Ever since the Christchurch earthquake the Boy Wonder has had a bee in his bonnet about getting an earthquake kit organised. You have to love a man who is so concerned for our safety (or, at least, I have to love him), but this kit is a bone of contention. I’m quite happy for him to stockpile toilet paper and rubbish bags and torches, but we’re having trouble deciding what ‘non-perishable’ food items to store.
In the meantime, I’ve pulled open the pantry door for Debby’s meme. Her pantry is a vision of ‘orderliness and harmony’ – I think mine is more of a work in progress…
|Wine, pasta, teabags – there’s no need for anything else!
1. Nigella Lawson keeps a secret stash of pigs ears in her freezer that she deep-fries for a crispy, solitary snack. Do you have anything similarly sordid in yours?
Crumbs, I can’t compete with that. At the moment our freezer is very wholesome, with loaves of bread, homemade chicken stock and assorted frozen slabs of meat, plus the all-important frozen peas. I think frozen peas are the greatest invention ever and feel uneasy when there are none in the house.
But I do have my Nigella moments. Back in June, after we had a decadent winter solstice dinner, our freezer held two large leftover pottles of very posh chocolate ice cream that had been augmented with Grand Marnier-soaked dried cherries. I used to sneakily eat it for lunch sometimes (and then wonder why I felt like a nap afterwards!)
Until about a month ago I regularly stocked the freezer with various baby-friendly purees and mashes, but the Small Girl is too grown up for them now. I do love having a freezer full of easily defrosted leftovers – casseroles and sauces and the like. Perhaps it’s hereditary – we used to joke that my great aunt Makiri’s freezer was full of individually wrapped roast potatoes – but I like to think of it as the culinary equivalent of money in the bank!
2. What foods would I always find in your fridge and why?
Milk, yoghurt, cheese (of various sorts), mustard and apples. The milk is largely for the Small Girl, but all three of us eat cheese and yoghurt like it’s going out of fashion. I am planning to start making my own yoghurt before the year is out, but in the meantime we buy the plainest, least tampered with kind. Oh, except Catherine and Terence bought a tub of Apple Crumble Yoghurt around on Saturday night and we are now hooked on it. When it comes to cheese, the Boy Wonder is strictly a cheddar man (it could be worse, he could eat the plastic sort he grew up on), but I like it as stinky and runny as possible. At the time of writing, the Small Girl favours cheddar but will happily eat room-temperature Brie (she turns her nose up at it straight out of the fridge). We always, always have a jar or two of French mustard, partly because it makes the BW nostalgic for the year we spent driving around France with a jar of Dijon’s finest in the glovebox, and partly because it’s an essential accompaniment to sandwiches, steaks and sauces. The apples are mostly for me – when we lived in the UK I always looked forward to New Zealand Braeburns appearing in the shops even though the airmile factor was horrific. They’re not very good at this time of year, having spent months in cool storage, but I can’t give them up.
3. Do you have a standby, never-fail recipe that you like to have the ingedients on hand for unexpected guests?
We eat a lot of pasta and Asian-ish noodle dishes, so we always have them in the house. My version of Nigella’s linguine with mushrooms and thyme is my current fallback dinner, but the BW’s idea of an easy dinner is a traditional roast chicken. I think he gets it from his mother, who claims a roast with masses of potatoes, pumpkin and parsnip, is the easiest thing to cook even in high summer. Anyway, we usually have a chicken in the freezer just in case.
4. What is your favourite comfort food?
If I’m cooking myself a special treat, then it’s chicken livers dredged in seasoned flour and gently sauteed in butter, then finished with a splash of wine. If the cupboard is bare or I’m feeling especially fragile, it’s bread and butter. Proper bread, cold butter, and maybe a dollop of honey. Usually eaten standing at the kitchen sink while I wait for the kettle to boil or wonder if I should have a glass of wine.
5. Do you have a chocolate drawer or secret hoard of sweet or savoury snacks?
The Boy Wonder used to eschew chocolate for crisps, but now he’s given them up and has taken to eating my 72% cacao Whittakers Dark Ghana chocolate, which is why there’s none to photograph! I treat myself to a square or two when the Small Girl has her afternoon nap. I also eat a lot of dried fruits, nuts and seeds (which go very well with chocolate!)
|Sublime to the ridiculous
6. What’s inside your store cupboard? I wonder if like me you too squirrel things away like a little mammal preparing for a hard winter? Or maybe you favour zen-like sparsity. Don’t you just love nosing inside someone else’s cupboards?
One of my sisters once said that you knew you were proper friends with someone when you could wander into their house and open their fridge in search of something to eat. I think cupboards are the same. Our old house had an enormous walk-in pantry and I felt very much the Domestic Goddess when I opened it and saw the shelves neatly stacked with packets and tins. I still don’t feel particularly well stocked here, despite spending great sums at various supermarkets and grocers. At the moment our pantry is a mix of the prosaic (pasta, rice, olive oil, useful things in tins like tomatoes and tuna) and the exotic (various Asian condiments and noodles, Spanish smoked paprika, French chestnut puree, a tiny tin of foie gras I got for my birthday). I always have a bag of flour and the wherewithal for some kind of baking (sugars, raising agents, cocoa, spices), both because it’s handy to be able to whip something up for visitors and I find baking very soothing. One of the things I miss most about living in London is that I don’t have the same access to all the things I became so used to having. All those lovely European and Middle Eastern foodstuffs I used to casually toss into my basket are either unavailable or prohibitively expensive, which is terribly annoying. But as long as I can get frozen peas and dark chocolate, I think I’ll cope.
|Now, how do I get into this packet?
What about you? What’s in your cupboards?