So, after last week’s list, some of the comments on my post (and further thought on my own part) reminded me that there were a ton of must-have foods that I missed. I think this completes the list, though. Combined with last week’s list, this makes up a list of foods that I literally stress over if I don’t have them, and in many cases will actually make a special trip to the grocery store to purchase them.
I am not sure how I could forget about popcorn, but thank to my friend Becki, who reminded me of it when she told me that popcorn was one of her “can’t live withouts”. Popcorn has been my favorite snack since I was a child. I remember my mom popping it in a pot when I was very young, and when we got a microwave we got a microwave popper (ha!) and then later my mom bought huge flats of Act II. I once burned the Dickens out of my arm on a metal popper that my grandparents had….you would pour oil in the bottom (my grandmother bought bottles of that awful yellow popcorn oil) and add the kernels to that, cover it with a yellow plastic cover that had a butter container in the top. I loved using that thing. Except when I burned myself. When we got married, I used some store credit I got on a returned wedding gift to buy an air popper….but now I have come full circle. All of my popcorn gets popped in a pot. No better way!
Parmigiano-Reggiano, cheddar, feta, cream, Swiss…I could go on and on. You will always find cheese in my….cheese drawer. Sometimes I splurge on the expensive stuff (I always buy real Parmigiano-Reggiano, which is always imported from Italy) but most of the time I buy whatever’s on sale in the dairy case. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Why? Because we eat so much cheese that I’d go broke if I always bought the expensive stuff. Cheese & crackers, a quick grilled cheese to go with soup or eat by itself for dinner, cheese on a bagel….we like cheese. A lot. The exception to that would be processed cheese singles. I haven’t bought those in probably six years….although I will admit that there are certain applications (like a grilled cheese on white bread) where a plastic-wrapped single is almost necessary. Neither one of us is a fan of goat cheese,either….I realize that’s another one of those “losing my foodie credibility” things, but I just think it’s an acquired taste….that I have yet to acquire.
3. Olive oil
I buy the gigantic can of organic olive oil at Earth Fare for about $22.00 (it used to be $19.95!). We use it for cooking, baking, popping popcorn (some “real food” and Paleo proponents contend that heating olive oil makes it an unhealthy fat…I have read research both ways and am not yet convinced-anyone got anything for me?). I also use it for making salad dressing. And I really want to make olive oil ice cream….although I’ll admit I’m a little frightened of it.
4. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is “in vogue” now, after many years of being villainized for its saturated fat. Of course, I think when most people think of coconut oil, they think of the hydrogenated coconut oil that is used to pop movie theater popcorn. Well, hydrogenated (trans) fat and saturated fat are two different animals. Coconut oil is now enjoying a new day in the sun as a healthy oil (although, like all oils should still be used in moderation). It tastes soooooo good. It’s my favorite popcorn popping oil.
Since we don’t eat a lot of meat at home, eggs are an important staple in our diet. We buy our eggs either from a guy that lives a few streets over or from a lady that my uncle sells them for….both of them raise the chickens in their backyards. They are less expensive than the eggs that are available at the farmers market. Let me tell you, the quality of a super-fresh egg cannot be argued. It’s aMAHzing. We used to buy “cage-free” (which essentially means….nothing) or organic (which more or less means that they were fed organic feed) eggs at the grocery store, which were (a) expensive; and (b) not nearly as high-quality as the eggs we buy from the people I mentioned above. The color of the yolks is pretty much unreal. By the way, I have to laugh every time I hear that a hen is “vegetarian-fed”. Did you know that chickens are not vegetarians? They like to eat bugs & worms too. I see what manufacturers are getting at….the hens aren’t fed the remains of other animals (bleh!) but I like to know that my chickens actually do get to walk around and peck the ground!
Philip takes crackers in his lunch every day. I take crackers on a lot of days as well. They’re great as a snack, and sometimes (like last night) we eat them alongside soup. While I still buy plain old white flour saltines sometimes (they’re definitely a comfort food), our favorites are Triscuits. I recently bought some Ak Mak crackers and thought they were great….they’ll probably become a regular now. Also, crackers made with nut flour (like Blue Diamond almond crackers) are super yummy, but an occasional purchase because of the price.
7. King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
Of course. I’ve been grinding my own flour lately, but I mix my (sifted) home-ground flour 50/50 with KA white whole wheat to help with the texture, although I’ve discovered that if I give the flour a few extra minutes to hydrate it turns out better…
No, we don’t drink it. However, buttermilk is great for baking, so I use it almost universally in baking recipes that call for milk (cornbread, biscuits, breads, etc.). The tang that it adds is irreplaceable.
9. Since I mentioned buttermilk, I better mention milk, too…
Of course we always have milk in our fridge. We go through it somewhat sporadically. I get a gallon every Wednesday at the farmers market. Some weeks I end up going to the grocery store to get more, and some weeks I have to find creative ways to use up all the milk before it goes bad. Philip eats a bowl of cereal almost every morning, and we love our Abuelita (although since it’s been super hot even at night lately we haven’t been drinking too much of it). Milk is definitely a staple.
10. Oh yeah….Cereal.
Not for me. I eat cereal very, very rarely. Like, maybe a couple of times a year, and then it’s generally as a snack, not breakfast. I hated cereal as a kid. Philip loves it, though, and happily eats it every single morning. It’s just a routine for him….a quick bowl of cereal for breakfast….the same breakfast he’s had since he was a child. We have to buy healthy, non-sugared cereals these days, but there is always a box of cereal in my pantry…and usually another box on top of my fridge.
So, if you didn’t comment last week, tell me: what are the foods that you can’t live without?