What I have here is a list of various ingredients that I absolutely could not live without! Okay, okay. I probably could live without some of them, but they do make my life a whole lot easier.
I recommend purchasing your spices whole, toasting and grinding them yourself – this allows you to control the amount of heat that goes into any blend. Whole spices last longer than the preground ones, and they look fabulous in small jelly jars! Where herbs are concerned I only really use fresh, I love the aroma when stripping thyme leaves from the stem or ripping basil just before tossing it into a steamy bowl. Fresh is ideal, obviously it’s not always available, but I do try. This year I had the pleasure of nursing a nice array of my own herbs in a wonderful backyard garden, I plan to snip and dry whatever I can before the first frost! If you have a garden, or any kind of potted fresh herbs, a wonderful and convenient way to keep them fresh is simply to freeze them. Pack your herbs in baggies with a little bit of water and break off corners as you need them (even an ice cube tray would work!).
As far as pulses go, there is a wonderful selection in the freezer section of Community Natural Foods & Planet Organic Market here in Calgary. I prefer to buy them frozen to avoid any BPA linings, but that is by no means the only way to go!
Keep in mind, I have been slowly accumulating ingredients for a long time – some things I found randomly searching out a local market, some I sought out specifically. It takes time! Do not feel like in order to make any of my recipes you need exactly this spice, or that type of rice! Use what you have, use what you are comfortable with and I promise the urge to venture on a new culinary adventure will follow.
Grains & Such
Rice: Red volcano, jade pearl, forbidden, Canadian wild, basmati & brown
Quinoa: Red, black and golden
Wild Rice Pastas
Spices (to name a few important ones!)
Coriander, Cumin, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Allspice, Ground Ginger, Tumeric, Chili Powder, Chili Flakes, Ground Cayenne, Chipotle, Smoked and Regular Paprika, Green Cardamom Pods, Black Mustard Seeds, Peppercorns (pink, green, black, white & Szechuan), Fenugreek Seeds, Garam Masala, Tikka Masala, Curry Leaves, Dried Lemongrass, Smoked Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt, Black Salt.
Nuts & Seeds – Most of which I keep in the fridge
Organic Cane & Brown Sugar
Maple Syrup & Maple Butter
Flour ( I hoard flour… at any given time I will have at least four bags on the go. Typically almond, coconut, kamut, quinoa, and spelt)
Cacao Powder & Nibs
Sprouted Flax Powder
Baking Soda, Baking Powder
Vanilla Extract & Powder
Lavender Flowers – Dried
Rosebuds & Hips – Dried
Condiments & More
Avocado Oil, Virgin Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Flax Oil
Ketchup, Dijon Mustard, Grainy Mustard
Balsamic Vinegar, Champagne Vinegar, Red Wine Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, Rice Vinegar
Homemade Curry Paste
Homemade Jellies, Jams, Pickled Vegetables, and Jarred Tomatoes
Carton of both Creamed Coconut and Coconut Cream