"May you live in interesting times."
An old saying that can be taken as a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it. It certainly is hard to see the bright side of the interesting times, at this moment. Whether we are social distancing, quarantining, or sheltering in place, we are at home and mostly remaining there. We've all been stocking our pantries for weeks with kitchen basics and making sure our neighbors are doing the same. What was considered a vague danger that was oh-so-comfortingly far away, has became a reality at our doorsteps.
Still, food has an amazing power to bring people together. Pantries loaded with all the staples are waiting to be made into meals that are not only nourishing, but comforting. We may not be able to be as open and social as we were a few weeks ago, but don't despair! Make time for 'wine dates' with friends over FaceTime, have your kids Skype their friends over lunch, and prepare a meal over-the-wire with loved ones. Share and enjoy food & company!
We have to keep social distancing, but we don't have to be socially isolated.
I have gathered together a few of my favorite recipes that will be easy to prepare and also won't stress your pantry stock. Very quickly, a few things that should be waiting in reserve over the next few weeks....
Grains & Beans
Shelf stable items such as pasta, egg noodles, dried beans, breads, oatmeal, crackers, quinoa, rice/risotto, popcorn, cereals, Panko, and flour. These items can be turned into many meals and baked goods. Remember that breads and even tortillas, can also be frozen.
Cellar friendly onions, garlic, potatoes, shallots, sweet potatoes, squash, turnips, and rutabagas are perfect for storing in cool basements. Keep dry and out of the sunlight.
Canned or Bottled Foods
Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsas, chutneys, jarred sauces, applesauce, jams, canned fruits, beans, chicken & beef broth, tuna, peanut or almond butters, coconut milk, evaporated milk, dried milk, and canned pumpkin. These foods provide flavor and nutrients!
Sugar, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, cocoa powder, chocolate chips, vegetable oil, white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and basic spices (cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried herbs, etc). Baking can be a fun distraction and seasonings bring brightness to every dish.
Milk & Butter (can be frozen), greek yogurt, eggs, hard cheeses, cream cheese, cured meats, ground chicken/beef/turkey, chicken breasts & thighs, salmon filets, bacon, and sausage. Meats & fish can be frozen.
Frozen fruits like strawberries, blueberries, bananas, pineapple and peaches. Frozen vegetables like kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, corn, & carrots. Fresh fruit & vegetables like beets, celery, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, jalapeño peppers, ginger, limes, lemons, apples, and grapefruits also last quite a long time when refrigerated. Dried fruits like cranberries, apricots, and raisins are also stellar to have on hand.
Wine, beer, spirits, coffee, teas, flavored waters, and seltzers.
Pantry Friendly Recipes
Famous Blueberry Muffins (can be made & frozen)
Egg-free Strawberry Banana Muffins (can be made & frozen)
Sunday's Best Pancakes (can be made & frozen)
Egg Frittata (can be made & frozen)
Quinoa Salad with Dried Fruit
(replace the tomatoes & corn with any vegetable such sautéed in butter & herbs)
Cheddar Beer Macaroni & Cheese (can be made & frozen)
Roasted Tomato Soup (can be made & frozen)
Turkey Meatball Soup (can be made & frozen)
Cauliflower & Potato Soup (can be made & frozen)
Double Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies (can be made & frozen)