Cooking from pantry solves lack of grocery store access

When we can’t get out to the grocery store, there is always the pantry to fall back on.

Take a moment to consider what pantry staples you can have on hand. It really depends upon your family’s preferences in food.

Dried products such as pasta, barley, lentils, chickpeas, nuts and quinoa keep for a long time and are easy to incorporate into a variety of dishes.

Tinned and jarred goods such as tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, pesto, tuna, salmon and stocks come in handy.

Keep vegetables, fruit, meat and fish in the freezer and eggs, milk, cream, butter and cheese in the refrigerator.

When it comes to spices and seasonings, cumin, thyme, rosemary and onion and garlic powders are used in many recipes. Ginger, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg are pantry staples for sweet dishes.

I am in the habit of keeping powdered and evaporated milk on hand. Dried wild mushrooms, Dijon mustard, maple syrup and honey, a variety of vinegars and soy sauce are always in my kitchen.

Have a few different cooking oils on hand. Olive oil is good for salad dressings. Canola, grapeseed or peanut oil have a higher smoke point and are better for high temperature frying.

A well-stocked pantry need not be large. Remember that all of these products have a shelf life. There is no benefit to buying more than you can reasonably use before they reach their best before date. We are fortunate to live in a country where food is abundant.

Best fried rice

Sesame oil is essential. Cold rice is the key to good fried rice. Make it with leftover rice from the day before.

  • 3 tbsp. sesame oil, divided 45 mL
  • 3 large eggs
  • kosher salt
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. peeled and minced ginger, from a 1 inch/2.5 cm piece 15 mL
  • 4 c. cooked long grain rice 1 L
  • 3/4 c. frozen peas 175 mL
  • 3 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce 45 mL

Heat a large cast iron skillet or wok over high heat until very hot, about three minutes. Add one tablespoon (15 mL) oil.

Beat egg with two teaspoons (10 mL) water and a large pinch salt and add to a hot skillet. Cook, stirring to form large soft curds, for about 30 seconds. Transfer to a plate.

Return skillet to high heat and add two tablespoons (30 mL) oil, the carrots and the whites of the green onions. Cook until lightly golden, about two minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, for one minute.

Add rice, peas and cooked eggs to skillet. Pour in soy sauce and cook, stirring, until heated through, one minute. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining green onions. Serve immediately.

Best cocoa brownies

  • 1/2 c. plus
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter 185 mL
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar 290 mL
  • 3/4 c. plus
  • 2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder 235 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. salt 1 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract 2 mL
  • 2 large cold eggs
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour 125 mL
  • 2/3 c. walnut or pecan pieces, optional 150 mL

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F (160 F). Butter the pan and then line the baking pan with parchment paper or foil, leaving an overhang on two opposite sides.

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl in a skillet of barely simmering water. Do not have the pan touching the water. Stir from time to time until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth and almost hot enough to burn your finger. Remove bowl from the skillet and set aside until the mixture is only warm, not hot.

Stir in the vanilla with a wooden spoon. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring vigorously after each one. When the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended, add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer. Then beat vigorously for 40 strokes with the wooden spoon or a rubber spatula. Stir in the nuts, if using. Spread evenly in the lined pan.

Bake until a toothpick poked into the centre emerges slightly moist with batter. This should take 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack.

Lift up the ends of the parchment or foil liner and transfer the brownies to a cutting board. Cut into 16 or 25 squares.

Asian Salmon Burger

  • 2 cans salmon, drained, remove any bones 150 g
  • 1/2 c. fine bread crumbs 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. mayonnaise, divided 125 mL
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground onion 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground garlic 5 mL
  • 2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. sriracha 30 mL
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • 1/4 c. rice wine vinegar 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil 15 mL
  • 1/2 green apple, sliced in half moons
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. sesame seeds 10 mL

Make the salmon burgers by adding drained, flaked salmon to large bowl along with bread crumbs, spices, finely chopped green onions and 1/4 cup (60 mL) of mayonnaise. In a separate bowl, whisk one egg, add to the salmon bowl and mix to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Divide into four portions and form into patties.

Heat an oiled, non-stick fry pan over medium high heat. Fry salmon burger for four minutes or until browned on one side. Flip and brown on opposite side. Reduce heat and continue cooking until heated all the way through. Combine remaining mayonnaise and sriracha together and use as a condiment on top of your burger.

Make the Asian slaw in a large bowl, whisking together sesame oil and rice wine vinegar. Combine prepared green cabbage, green onion, red onion and green apple. Toss with dressing and serve on the side or on top of salmon burger. Add a pinch of salt, if desired.

Whisk egg with one teaspoon (5 mL) of water. Brush over top of burger bun and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Toast in oven for five minutes at 350 F (180 C).

Buttermilk pancakes

You can have pancakes for any meal of the day, not just breakfast. Top with fried chicken or ribs for a more substantial meal. Maple syrup makes everything right.

  • 1 c. all purpose flour 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. yellow cornmeal 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. golden brown sugar, packed 30 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 3 mL
  • 1 c. buttermilk 250 mL
  • 1 c. plain whole-milk yogurt 250 mL
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 22 mL

Combine first six ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Whisk buttermilk, yogurt and egg in medium bowl to blend. Add to dry ingredients and stir until just blended but still lumpy. Gently mix in melted butter.

Heat griddle or large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spread thin coating of butter over griddle and let melt. Working in batches, drop 1/3 cup of batter (75 mL) onto griddle, spacing apart. Cook pancakes until brown on bottom and bubbles form on top, about three minutes. Turn pancakes over and cook until bottoms are brown and pancakes are barely firm to touch. Transfer to plates. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more butter to griddle as needed.

Serve with fresh or gently sautéed fruit, maple syrup and Chantilly cream.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and farmers’ market vendor at Swift Current, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. She writes a blog at Contact:

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