When I was growing up, my maternal grandmother, Constance, had a large dresser in the corridor near her kitchen, where she stored tin upon tin of food. I am not sure how long there had been in there or how often she replenished them (i.e. if they were still in date), but the cupboard was always full.
I never asked my grandmother about the cupboard, but my mother told me that my grandmother always kept a well stocked cupboard as she had lived through the second world war with three young daughters, as well as post war rationing, and never wanted to be in a situation again where she didn’t have enough food to feed her family.
Although I have never lived through a war or rationing and until recently never really considered the possibility that food may be difficult to come by, I have always had a well-stocked dry store cupboard. The fact that I am also a Pastry Chef and have a lot of baking ingredients, has also meant that I started the lockdown period is a relatively good state. Sorry, I should have also mentioned that I have a very well-stocked herb and spice cupboard (much to the annoyance of my husband, who is constantly trying to keep them in some order – he has been know to alphabetise them on more than one occasion) and a range of vinegar, oils etc.
On another subject, a while back, long before the lockdown, I bought a book called “The Art of the Larder” by Claire Thomson with the strap line “Good food from your store cupboard, every day”. While her book is very informative and has an array of wonderful recipes, the larder basics she suggests, go beyond what I will be suggesting here. i guess the main difference is that her book was written at a time when access to the supermarkets was easy and there was no constraint on the food stuffs that could be bought.
With the above in mind and without any further delay, the following is a suggested list of larder essentials. I am likely to add to this list as the lockdown continues.
- Dried pasta (my favourites are penne or rigatoni, spaghetti and macaroni)
- Noodles (wheat or rice)
- Tinned beans (my favourites are cannellini, red kidney, black beans and chickpeas)
- Ready cooked lentils (green lentils and puy lentils)
- Dried pulses (split peas and red lentils)
- Rice (of your choice)
- Porridge oats
- Flour (plain, self-raising, spelt, rye, 00, strong white bread, gram, corn, wholegrain/brown)
- Semolina and polenta
- UHT milk (cow’s, almond, oat, soya)
- Tinned milk (evaporated, condensed and coconut)
- Sugar (caster, white, dark brown, light brown, icing, jam)
- Honey, maple syrup, treacle, malt extract, syrup
- Peanut butter and/or other nut butter
- Chocolate (milk and dark)
- Cocoa powder
- Desiccated coconut
- Spices (salt (coarse and fine), peppercorns, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground cumin, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, garlic salt, celery salt, rose harissa, sumac, turmeric, paprika, curry powder, Garam Masala, chilli powder and chilli flakes)
- Herbs (dried oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, mixed herbs)
- Vanilla essence and vanilla paste
- Baking soda and baking powder
- Easy bake yeast
- Seeds (poppy, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin)
- Nuts (raw cashew nuts and peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecan, almonds (whole, ground and flaked), pistachio
- Dried fruit (raisins, sultanas, figs, dates. cranberries)
- Oil (olive, coconut, sunflower or vegetable oil)
- Vinegar (malt, white distilled, white wine, red wine, sherry, cider and balsamic)
- Other larder essentials (tomatoes, sweetcorn, passata, tomato puree, olives (black and green), tuna, anchovies, vegetable bouillon, mustard (English, Dijon, Wholegrain), capers, stem ginger)
In addition to ambient larder goods, there are also a few staple fridge and freezer ingredients that you will need:
- Cheese (cheddar, halloumi, feta, mozzarella, parmesan)
- Plain yoghurt
- Filo pastry
- Puff pastry
Okay, having written this list of ‘essentials’, I am a bit embarrassed to consider them essentials, so I may need to refer to the above as the things that I have accumulated over some time and which you will need should you wish to cook the recipes I will be posting.