In about September, I begin to look ahead and think about nonperishable ingredients I need to start collecting for meals, dinner parties, festive get togethers and holiday cooking. With the weather turning colder, I like to stock up on an assortment of dried lentils (green, red and black), dried chickpeas, Rancho Gordo Beans, chestnuts, chestnut honey, and an assortment of rices( Jasmine, wild rice, brown rice, risotto rice and paella rice). I make a list of specialty items I need to collect for special meals, some of these items come from specialty shops, online, or the market down the road.
I like to have an assortment of raw nuts for baking, variety of dried mushrooms to add flavor to stocks and many French dishes/sauces or even gravy for Thanksgiving as well as many seasonal spices that I must order.
When cooking a stew or braising meat or making homemade stock I want to have everything in its place, mise en place. I am diligent and keep a file of what I need at the start of my busy season of cooking/baking, dinner parties, and want to be able to have a well stocked pantry and all I have to do is add beautifully sourced produce, meats and fish.
For example, red lentils make a wonderful and healthy soup for cold days. Add some tomato paste, coconut milk, a dash of cumin and some fresh grated ginger root and you have a healthy lunch. My kids love rice, all rice so it is always a great accompaniment with any meal. My husband makes amazing paella’s so that is always a wonderful dish and really he turns each creation into a masterpiece of flavor and color. Risotto is another wonderful dish that is great year round, but we love to get creative by adding different ingredients. What is wonderful about cooking with rice, these dishes can be vegetarian or vegan. Play around, enjoy and always eat a rainbow.