Monday, January 10, 2011

The List

The List is an essential building block of this whole "Cook What You've Got" concept.

If your experience with cooking new foods has produced a pantry full of unused spices and a fridge full of condiments, The List will help you find a rhythm of cooking that will allow for a variety of cuisines without depending on buying specialty ingredients.

Once you've downloaded the List, feel free to add things that you regularly buy, but challenge yourself to whittle away the processed foods and prepared foods while buying more fresh ingredients.

The Essentials for a well-stocked and meal-ready kitchen?

  • You don't have to have everything on the List stocked all the time.
  • Keep the items in the first 5 sections stocked (Baking, Dry Goods, Flavoring Agents, Wine/Beer, Sweeteners) and buy everything else when on sale or in season. For the most part, these are inexpensive items and will help you make something without a trip to the store.
  • Buy only the dairy products that you use most regularly in quantity.  I always keep a well-aged cheddar, parmesan and either feta or blue for making interesting salads.  Other varieties pop up depending on season and when I find them on sale.  Aged Gouda or Gruyere for Fall and Winter dishes, Chevre to go with Spring veggies, Fresh mozzarella for juicy, fresh-from-the-garden (and PLEASE never refrigerated) tomatoes in the Summer.
  • Buy meat, poultry and seafood only when they are on sale or if they are priced smartly at a warehouse store.  Buy a little extra of each and then you'll slowly start a freezer cache.  I look for organic or (even more preferable) 100% grass-fed beef, hormone- and antiobiotic-free poultry, and wild and/or sustainable seafood.  
  • And finally, keep your frozen foods stocked as fillers.  When you've run out of fresh fruit, it's handy to have some frozen to make a quick breakfast smoothie or fruit crisp for dessert. Frozen peas brighten up an otherwise muted stew, frozen spinach and broccoli mixed in with the insides of baked potatoes are a quick option for dinner and frozen corn can lead to a Sunday supper of corn chowder with a few things from the pantry.  The other items are up to you and simply give you creative options if you choose to buy them. 
Menu planning takes on a whole new week with The List.  You don't have to stare at a blank page or wander aimlessly on recipe websites, or even worse, resort to the "If it's Tuesday it must be meatloaf" mindset.  Cooking is a lot more fun, and appetizing for your cooking beneficiaries, if you have variety.

Either look at my Recipe Index on the homepage or do what I do and make a game of it. Thursdays are when I get my box from Riverdog Farm so using the dry-erase board on my fridge, I write down the veggies I have in one column, the proteins in another (including vegetable protein sources like beans or lentils), and finally meal completers in another (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.)  I draw lines to connect together something from each column then write the menus on my calendar. 

Email me if you're stumped and let me know about your successes.  I'd be happy to hear about less-than-stellar results, too, and would gladly talk through it with you and help you for the next time around.

One of my dreams for this website is for it to be an extension of the community I enjoy here in Northern California.  I teach cooking classes based on this same concept and while I love it when people tell me what they've cooked after coming to class, I equally love problem solving when something doesn't quite work right. I'm your personal cooking connection and can't wait to hear from you.

There is a small fee for the List, but once you've downloaded it, it's yours to use and even edit to your family's preferences. 

I will be adding collections of recipes on a regular basis so watch for these as well.  

Thanks for supporting me and this new concept.

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Welcome. I value your comments. If you think you would like to use my site for your personal advertising purposes, I would appreciate you emailing and asking me first. I've had a recent outbreak of SPAM, so I'm a little cautious. But legit conversations are always welcome.

Thanks, Christi

Copyright 2012 TablaVie Personal Chef Service

All photos and recipes may not be used without express permission from Christi Flaherty, owner and creator of Cook What You've Got Concept and blog.
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