Sunday, November 21, 2010

Six On Sunday - Kitchen Staples

I've recently grown a bit self-conscious over my deep and abiding love for food. I think about food all of the time. My Facebook status updates are 90% food related. I'm starting to see that this isn't normal and that, perhaps, it's not even healthy.

My dad used to have a saying. (You know dads, always with their sayings.) He would say, "I don't live to eat, I eat to live!"

Well, it's high time I fessed up, Pops. Your girl lives to eat.

I'm not an over-eater. And I'm not really an emotional eater. I'm more of the "It's 10 PM, why isn't there cereal in my mouth?" eater.

I eat late, ya'lls. Don't tell Oprah.

I hold in my heart this truth: Cooking is cheaper than therapy.

And this one: To love someone is to cook for them.

And this one: To love me is to cook for me.

If I were a different kind of girl, I might stain my lips with beet juice and perfume my wrists alternately with garlic and ginger. I might carry a vial of salsa on a thin chain around my neck.

Alas, I'm not her.


But, in lieu of the above, I will share with you the six ingredients that find their way into my shopping cart almost every single week.

1. Lemons

I am a lemon aficionado. It took me years to understand and accept this. During those dark years, I would find myself, time and time again, in need of a lemon. Now that my zestiness is fully self-actualized, I buy them by the bag. I squeeze lemon into pasta, chicken salad, salad dressing, brown rice. I slice them up and put them under chicken skin or over fish. I zest the rind and bake it into pie crust and muffins. I brew them with slices of fresh ginger and honey for tea. I love everything about lemons. I can't quit the junk. (I am also quite fond of limes, but you didn't come to hear about limes.)

2. Fresh garlic

Lemon and garlic should totally win the "Best Couple" award. As it stands, there are very few savory dishes that are not improved upon with a clove or two or five of garlic. I am here to confess: I am an over-garlicker. If the recipe says one, I say two. Two minimum. I may actually be at risk for carrying the perpetual scent of garlic, but I won't apologize, because it is totally worth it. For years I bought the big jar of ready-minced garlic, but this is an entirely different beast. It is cheaper and to compare the taste really wouldn't even be fair. Fresh garlic has a hint of sweetness that deepens as it is cooked. It is utterly fresh and alive. If you have never bought a bulb of your own, take an extra quarter to the supermarket and change your life.

To use your new bulb, peel off an individual clove and rest the broad side of your knife on top of it. Now, use the heel of your hand to press down on the knife, thereby smashing the clove. Once smashed, the skin will slip off easily and you are ready to chop it up. You may find, two days later, probably in the shower, that your fingertips still smell faintly of garlic. But who said that was a bad thing?

3. Green onions

My love affair with green onions sort of snuck up on me. I find that they add a perfectly delicate hint of onion to loads of dishes. I'm also a big fan of attractive food, and they provide a nice hit of color. I use these in salads, stir-frys, chicken and tuna salad, soups and pasta dishes, although the options are endless.

4. Sour Cream

I love sour cream. Do not ever attempt to feed me a taco or a baked potato without it. I wouldn't hear of it. My kids have followed in my footsteps and would happily eat it as a side-dish, if I allowed it, and perhaps I have, but that information is simply not up for public release at this time. Aside from the obvious Mexican-genre foods, I use sour cream in mashed potatoes, some cream-based soups and several baking recipes. But mostly? We just eat a whole heck of a lot of quesadillas and tacos.

5. This exact kind of yogurt

My kiddos could eat yogurt like sour cream. They dig it. At times, I still spring for the individual cups, but this option is cheaper and eliminates the risk of "No, I wanted the lime!" It is especially good with fresh berries of any kind or a sprinkling of homemade granola, preferably with coconut. My small peeps are under the impression that this qualifies as full-on dessert, so I would be ever so grateful if you could keep any opposing opinions to yourselves.

6. Cereal

You know how some people are sports people? Or theater people? Well, we're cereal people. My romance with cold cereal dates back to my early youth. I used to eat a bowl for breakfast and another bowl as an after-school-snack, while watching Woody Woodpecker or Today's Special on PBS. (What was up with Today's Special, anyway? Why am I only now realizing the creepy factor?) As the years passed, I graduated to Geraldo Rivera and Guiding Light (shhh!), but the after-school-snack remained unchanged. Now, it is my breakfast of choice and my late-night snack of choice. And I'm just going to come right out with it - We eat sugar cereal. I try to limit the sugar to 10 mg. or less. That's reasonable, right? It used to wig me out a little when the kids wanted Cinnamon Toast Crunch all the time, but then I discovered this little gem:
Cinnamon Toast Crunch = 10 g.
Basic Four (my ex-beloved) = 14 g.
Post Raisin Bran = 19 g.

Sure, there's fiber to consider and such, but who really wants to consider fiber at crack of dawn? There's a whole day left for fiber.

Honorable Mentions:

1. Reduced Fat Cream Cheese
(I usually buy the store brand)

I am a sucker for anything made with cream cheese. I am also a self-proclaimed sucker for seersucker, but I'll save that story for another day.

2. Spaghetti Sauce

As you can see, spaghetti sauce has a very short shelf-life up in this hood. Even when spaghetti isn't on the menu, it comforts me to know that it's waiting in the wings. We all love spaghetti. We all love sauce from a jar. When I'm feeling extra special, I might throw in some extra veggies or some browned ground beef and onion. Or all of the above. But more often than not, we take it straight-up. I am very partial to Prego - Tomato, Onion and Garlic, but this new variety from Aldi is also quite delicious, in that canned-sauce sort of way.

3. Duh


  1. What a cute post! We share a love of green onions! :)

  2. Oh Shannan...I have a recipe for you. Do you like black beans? Tomatoes? Throw them together with some corn, your green onions, squeeze some lemon in, throw in some fresh cilantro and scoop it out with those tasty corn chips.

    If you're feeling frisky, add a dollop (or six) of sour cream. I eat this (on a small corn tortilla) at least three days a week for lunch.

    Favoritest ever.

  3. "I eat late, ya'lls. Don't tell Oprah."
    Ohmyword, I love you.
    Thanks for writing this post!
    Golly. I eat late all the time!
    On one occasion, I was in the long hall to finish reading a book and it was around 1:30am.....
    I went downstairs and had a pickle, slice of cheese, and a wonderful orchard apple.

  4. Only you can make food ingredients fun!

  5. LOL! I will never tire of that pic of you lovin' on your Santitas!
    Thanks for the ideas for lemons too. Can't wait to throw a few in my cart next time.

  6. Here's our favorite chicken recipe, almost naked!

  7. I'm sorry to correct you on your very own blog, but it is exactly impossible to talk about food too much. You have been cleared and are now free to talk about food ad nauseum.
    It is possible we were seperated at birth. I too cook for therapy, but more specifially, I bake for therapy. I know no one who finds homemade bread untherapeutic. My thighs don't much like it, but whatever.
    Keep up the food talk. I'm all ears and taste buds.

  8. Great post and all but what I REALLY wanted to say was that is one seriously sweet belt buckle. I am more than a tad bit envious.

  9. Those are staples over here too! I love lemons so much I bought myself a Meyers Lemon tree. No lemons yet...

  10. I'm 100% with you on all of the above. That exact yogurt is my absolute favorite. With fresh berries and almonds. Mmmmm, mmmm. Love it! I go out of my way to get it too. It's not carried at my regular grocery store.
    And my husband makes fun of me for my tendency to have like 4 tubs of sour cream in the fridge at any given time.
    I kind of get weird if there's not fresh garlic in the house.
    Cereal is my favorite and my kids eat sugar cereal too. :)

  11. I am with you girl! Those chips are the very best!! And, I am a late night eater too. My hubs is just making us a snack..though I'm realizing it's only 8:50pm - I must be a little more tired than usual! :)

    On the other hand, you are inspiring me about the fresh garlic...i admit, I have the minced garlic in a can in my fridge. Oh can we still be friends?!

    Oops, gotta go, I have a chocolate milkshake being handed to me....

  12. Our grocery carts look eerily similar! Yum. I think I need to go have a snack!

  13. and they say squeezing some lemon in water makes you less susceptible to cancer! So that kinda balances out the sugar cereal right???!!!

  14. I was almost getting nervous that you left out Santita's and then you tricked me. :) I was about read to blog call you out.

  15. HA HA! I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE that you have honorable mentions!

  16. I am pretty much adoring your Six on Sunday series! You are just so gosh darn cute!

  17. I'm like your dad~ I eat to live, LOL! I love your ideas for lemons. And I'm a total cereal girl, too. One of my faves? Lucky Charms! I just bought some today. Hard to believe I'm going on 40..... ;-)

  18. You are so cute!!! How can I not love a post about food this time of year? It's surrounding us on every side! :)

  19. I LOVE LEMONS TOO!!!!! I have always said that if someone made lemon pledge or mr. clean into a perfume I would wear it!!!! I put them in everything, love lemon verbena anything, lemon drop drink, a fun treat....yummmm!

  20. I'm such a cereal junkie myself..finished off some Life mixed with some Chocolate Cheerios. I'm a cereal mixer and look forward to my nightly snack! I can put down some Santitas and hot sauce too (don't get me started). Fun post!!

  21. One thing is very sure, we could happily eat together. We could even cook together. Your food list honorees are absolutely essential in my kitchen as well, with the exception of vanilla yogurt.

  22. 1. Grape nuts. Zero sugar- said with my nose in the air.
    2. Skim milk
    3. Apples
    4. Pepper jack cheese
    5. Eggs
    6. Whipping cream!!

  23. Had to laugh about the garlic. I grew up with the jar variety, and had been following in my mother's footsteps, until this summer! We grew garlic in our garden, and it's amazing. Love the flavor! I also recently learned that fresh garlic (when eaten in hummus, etc.) helps fight colds, etc. Woo-hoo!

    I think I've only ever bought 2 lemons, and it was to slice them and pretty up some lemonade. Will have to think on that some more. However, my husband is allergic to all citrus fruits (!), so I'm thinking bulk lemon buying is not in my future!

    Totally with you on the Prego, but I can't handle sour cream. Yuk!

  24. Love your truths to why you love food because I can relate to every one of them!!!

  25. I must confess it...I LIVE TO EAT TOO! I'm forever eating! And people hate me for it, saying I's skinny as a rail. (Well, it's true. My grandma's famous quote, "Eat, EAT! You ain't big as a cake a soap.")

    I love and live by your quote, "To love someone it to cook for them." FOOD IS LOVE - plain and simple! Happy eating!

  26. I wish I could say I eat to live. No, I just like food and if you knew me you would be able to tell when I'm able to reign in my desires by which direction my pant size is going. I eat very healthy but need to work on portion control. I like that you post about food and what your menu is or was and love the pictures you take of your dishes.

  27. I may have to try out that yogurt - my kids LOVE yogurt, but constantly fight over the flavors. Recently they love go-gurt - how nasty is that?

  28. HA! Today's Special! I loved that show and have also recently questioned the weirdness of it! :)

    Tortilla chips are always a staple on my list and I am constantly on the hunt for the perfect salsa.

  29. Cute post! I find it a little odd that my cart holds many of the same items. If bad-mom guilt didn't factor in, my daughter would have eaten Cinnamon Toast Crunch for breakfast lunch and dinner, and I would have joined her with my bowl of Honeycomb.

  30. I was wondering where the chips were? Since we all know how much you love chips and salsa! I love that brand to I have tried them all but I always come back to them! Traci

  31. Ohh Myy!!! Im your newest follower and LOOOOOOOOOOVIN it!!! I am NOT a cook so could you FedEX all this food to me IMMEDATELY!!! I have an interior design buss and doing 14 days of xmas trees and would BEYOND ADORE you to visit! I have a giveaway too!!

    *ENTER CUSTOM FLORAL Give-Away Here *


  32. I love garlic too, I add it to anything I can! It is also good for your immune system! I just feel good about being a mom when I use tons of garlic when I cook. wierd.

  33. You must have a great metabolism! I share many of your faves...esp. cream cheese and garlic...but not together!

  34. I totally double or triple the garlic in recipes too. One clove is like "what is the point?"

    Love your list!

  35. I'm just glad beets did not make your top 6 (or 9) list :)

  36. What's the "Today's special"?! Where was I? Oh, yes, watching Saved by the Bell. That's right. I love your favs. I share many of them. And I have 2 tubs of sour cream in my fridge right now... the weird thing? It's on my grocery list. I'm scared to run out!!

  37. You are such an amazing writer!!!!!!!!!!!! Every time I read you I'm blown away and usually have a perma-grin spread across my face or tears rolling down my cheeks. You have a gift girl. I absolutely can relate to the food obsession. I have one of my own. I absolutely love grocery shopping and cooking for the fam... when I see my little kiddies eating up what I' have prepared and knowing their little bodies are getting so nourished, it truly warms my heart!

  38. I would love to come eat with you! Great, fun post.


  39. I wish I had the knack for lemon usage. I want to be the kind of cook that squeezes and zests, but when I buy them, they shrivel in the fruit bowl and I feel deeply ashamed.
    Please still love me.

  40. We could be such good friends. Lemons and sour cream always come home with me. I wish I could figure out how to use the two together, but alas, I have not.

  41. I love this post! We have many of the same staples in our house. So, Aldi is a grocery store? We just moved to Nebraska and I've driven by Aldi often. I may have to try that sauce. Thanks for the tip! Have you ever revealed where you actually bought that shirt of yours? :)

  42. Two things.. my kids could also eat sour cream as a side dish. And I am so glad to read your cereal confession. I lurve me some cereal. And we buy the sugar stuff too and I have the same 10g rule!

  43. i was surprised not to see salsa. and question. would you ever dream of trying salsa and cream cheese together with your chips? i'm not sayin whether i would or not. but i'm just sayin that someone might have tried it before and it might be good. that is all. oh, and your list is my list. whew. this girl uses a lot of lemons and garlic.

  44. we also love santitas, salsa (herdez only, unless homemade), and cereal (the more cereal the merrier i say). and garlic- but i have yet to get courageous about the Real stuff. i still use a jar. i'm lazy.
    a very good food list, i say.

  45. I see your list and I raise you half and half and butter. (is that correct poker talk? I have no idea) No less than 3#'s of butter shows up in this house weekly (Don't tell Dr. Oz) and I wonder why I'm fat? Not fair -I'm just saying. Not fair that you were a negative size jeans. Really? Really. Law.

  46. we love santitas! they are a staple around these parts...

    can you please let me know where you found your "grey state" t-shirt? i'm dying for one (not sure why?) and can't find one anywhere!