Category Archives: Store Cupboard Basics

This week in my Kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 7…Vinegars, Sauces and Condiments…

This week in store cupboard basics I will be covering items which are perfect for serving with dishes at the table but also great for adding flavour and bite to our cooking…

It takes time (and) money to build up a store cupboard so I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients also it seems at the moment from the different news articles I have read and from your comments that there are and there may be more food shortages so it makes sense to be prepared either by batch cooking or cooking just and extra portion and freezing it or buying and extra jar or packet when you do your weekly shop…

I will be posting some recipes soon that you can make from virtually nothing but which are nutritious and filling…

Vinegar…

vinegars bottle-589_640

As a child, I only recall ever having malt vinegar with our fish and chips on our winkles and cockles and used for my mum’s homemade pickles... it was only as we started to travel and taste other cuisines that it opened up the world of vinegar and now I don’t just have malt vinegar but white vinegar, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, white or red wine vinegar even fruit vinegar…

On the subject of vinegar, it is worth buying a good quality vinegar as it has a longer shelf life. Here in Thailand, there are many kinds of vinegar and most of the labels are in Thai, however, the one word which stood out in my search for the kinds of vinegar I use was artificial…That sent me scuttling home for a chat with Mr Google…I mean those of you who know me expect no less…

What did I discover?…

Artificial vinegar” is acetic acid that is made by a chemical process.

Natural vinegar” is acetic acid that is made in a biological process using the Acetobacter aceti bacteria. If the “natural vinegar” is distilled, it is very difficult to tell the difference between it and the “artificial vinegar.”

No great shakes then it seems but suspicious Annie here believes…Not much…lol… So I will not be buying it…You get what you pay for…

Sauces…

Since living here the world of sauces has opened up for me…I always buy the best I can and read the labels…

Soy Sauce... Often used as a dipping sauce for sushi…

sushi soy-933550_640

It is made from fermented soybeans, soy sauce is salty and adds a rich rounded flavour to Asian style stir-fries, glazes and sauces. One of the best-known soy products it originated in China and has been used in cooking for over 1,000 years.

Traditional soy sauce is made by soaking soybeans in water and roasting and crushing the wheat. Then the soybeans and wheat are mixed with a culturing mould, most commonly Aspergillus, and left for two to three days to develop.

Next, water and salt are added, and the entire mixture is left in a fermenting tank for five to eight months, though some types may age longer.

High-quality soy sauce uses only natural fermentation. These varieties are often labelled “naturally brewed.” The ingredients list will usually only contain water, wheat, soy and salt.

Like the vinegar, we now get to the chemically produced soy sauces …Chemical production is a much faster and cheaper method of making soy sauce. This method is known as acid hydrolysis, and it can produce soy sauce in a few days instead of many months. The taste is also inferior and in Japan soy produced this way cannot be labelled as soy.

In my cooking here I use either soy, light soy, black soy or mushroom soy…I always spend more and buy naturally fermented soy sauces a little goes a long way particularly with the black soy as you use just a tiny dash not even half a tsp per dish.

Tomato Ketchup…

If you see and add for burger or fries it will invariably have ketchup in the picture and I know many people who have tomato ketchup with everything…

jacket potato and ketchup

I keep a small bottle in the fridge ...as it is not something even the grandkids eat now we live here…maligned for the amount of added sugars it contains all I will say is moderate your intake or make your own…Not something I do often as I only use it if I make a seafood sauce or sweet and sour sauce which isn’t often…

Ready-Made Pata Sauces…

Whether you’re serving Bolognese, lasagne, or macaroni cheese, our convenient readymade sauces mean it’s never been easier to create your favourite dish…as a quick fix, they come in handy, especially if you love food that’s full of flavour, you may find yourself adding condiments or sauces to give meals an extra kick. But ready-made sauces can contain a surprising amount of fat, sugar and salt. Over time, consuming too much of these can damage your health.

It’s always worth making your own as you control the sugar, salt and fat..it freezes well and can be cheaper especially if you grow your own tomatoes or you can get a bargain when they are at the end of their season…one batch cook can see you set up for a few months…

Worcestershire Sauce…

A thin brown some say very spicy sauce which brings a piquant flavour to casseroles, stews and soups…

Oyster Sauce…

Oyster sauce describes a number of sauces made by cooking oysters. The most common in modern use is a viscous dark brown condiment made from oyster extracts, sugar, salt and water thickened with corn starch. Some versions may be darkened with caramel, though the high-quality oyster sauce is naturally dark. It is commonly used in Cantonese, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese and Khmer cuisines.

On my daughter-in-law’s advice, I buy a premium Oyster sauce made here in Thailand…It has no added colours, or artificial flavours and is gluten-free.

Fish Sauce…

Is a liquid condiment made from fish or krill that has been coated in salt and fermented for up to two years…It is also a sauce I have come to love…Due to its ability to impart a savoury umami flavour to dishes, it has been embraced globally by chefs and home cooks. The umami flavour in fish sauce is due to its glutamate content. Soy sauce is regarded by some in the West as a vegetarian alternative to fish sauce though they are very different in flavour.

Fish sauce is not only added to dishes as a seasoning but also used as a base in dipping sauces. for both fish, meat, vegetables and fruit…Our little Lily puts it on her passionfruit…

Curry pastes …

As all the curry pastes I have come across where I live are made locally…For example, Massaman Curry paste is more of a Southern Thai dish so not so many available pastes here…Because I can buy fresh pastes I buy as I need them and also ship them around the world as my friends and family love them so much and are always requesting more…for anyone in the western world if you don’t make your own buy from the Asian stores or online as they are less inclined to use additives…I used to buy Mae Ploy which can be found in most major stores now…

Mustard…

I grew up eating Coleman’s English mustard  …in a ham sandwich, with cold meats, added to a cheese sauce or cheese scones now, of course, there are so many different varieties of mustard…

I generally except for Dijon mustard make my own as mustard if available here is very expensive and for the smallest of pots…

wholegrain mustard 1

I did not realise how easy it was to make and the difference in the taste…How does that look not bad for a beginner…It took a few goes until I got it just right for our tastes but it pretty good and so easy to do just 5 ingredients one of which is water…Homemade Mustard…

Tomato Puree…

Tomato purée is a thick liquid made by cooking and straining tomatoes. The difference between tomato paste, tomato purée, and tomato sauce is consistency; tomato puree has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavour than sauce.

I use it when I am making meat sauces, spag bol, chilli or pizza bases…although I always blitz my own tomatoes for sauces and never buy tinned I always keep a spare tin of puree to get that intensity of flavour to me it is not worth making due to the amount and frequency that I use…Once the can is opened it freezes well.

By now you should have a pretty well-stocked cupboard of store cupboard basics…

I hope you are finding these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Until next week when in my store cupboard basics it will be dried spices…

This Week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 6…Cooking Oils…

 

It takes time (and) money to build up a store cupboard so I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Staples range from flour, sugar, canned goods, oils, rice, pasta, dried herbs, stock cubes(bouillon)...Today I am looking at Cooking Oils…

Essential for both cooking and adding flavour to dishes, there are many different types of oil. When it comes to cooking oils some are more controversial than others for both health reasons and environmental concerns…Most cooking oils are pressed or extracted from the fruit, vegetable seeds or nuts. The ways in which various oils taste and perform in the kitchen have a great deal to do with the way they have been produced and refined (or not refined, as the case may be). Below are a couple of WORDS you might notice on cooking oil labels that are helpful to know.

Chemically Extracted… Most non-organic, commercial oils (like soybean, corn, and canola oils) use chemical extraction to remove the oil from the seeds. Generally, the seeds are washed, heated, pressed, flaked and then flooded with hexane, a petroleum product that is frightfully efficient at extracting oil from seeds. Unfortunately, hexane is dangerous to those who work with it and is difficult to dispose of safely. (The jury is still out as to whether consuming hexane-extracted oils is safe.) It should be noted that the FDA does not require that hexane extraction be listed on food labels, but it is not allowed in certified organic products.

Expeller-Pressed… The oil is extracted via pressure by using a screw-like press. Expeller pressing is much less efficient than chemical extraction — a significant portion of the oil is not removed — and thus expeller-pressed oils tend to be more expensive than chemically extracted oils…BUT in my mind “what price do we put on health“…

Cold-Pressed… Because pressing oil can cause the oil to heat up (due to pressure and friction), some oils are pressed in cold environments or by using a cooling apparatus. Cold pressing is supposed to preserve flavour and nutrients.

Refined… Some oils are further refined after the chemical extraction or pressing process. Refinement removes various compounds in the oil, including colour and other particles, fatty acids and other substances considered “impurities.” Refined oils are extremely neutral in taste, by design.

Hydrogenation… Very simply explained, oils are hydrogenated via a chemical process that adds hydrogen atoms to the oil. the more oil is hydrogenated, the higher the saturated fat. Fully hydrogenated oil (like shortening and margarine) is solid at room temperature.

Virgin/Extra-Virgin… These are terms used to describe the pressing and refining processes of the oil, as well as the chemical composition. Generally, “extra-virgin” oils are cold-pressed mechanically (i.e., without the use of chemical extraction). These terms are most frequently associated with olive oils, which are defined by the International Olive Council. They are also more recently being used to describe coconut oil…

Smoke Point… The temperature at which smoke appears when the oil is heated. In general, the more refined the oil, the higher the smoke point. High smoke point oils are useful in high-heat cooking.

I tend to use a variety of oils depending on what I am cooking or flavouring…I  also believe that oil is an essential cooking basic but as with everything moderation should be applied…as should the process of how oil is extracted…who said it was easy doing a weekly or monthly shop?…maybe it’s time for me to explore the benefits of an air fryer?

If all you eat are deep-fried foods then of course it will affect your health…

Corn Oil… Corn oil is an oil extracted from the germ of corn. Its main use is in cooking, where its high smoke point makes refined corn oil a valuable frying oil. It is also a key ingredient in some margarine. Corn oil is generally less expensive than most other types of vegetable oils…however, although Corn oil contains some healthy components like vitamin E and phytosterols, overall it’s not considered a healthy fat. That’s because it’s highly refined and high in inflammatory omega-6 fats that should be limited in a typical Western diet. There are many healthier alternatives to corn oil.

Palm Oil… One of the most controversial of the options…for both health and environmental reasons. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit grown on the African oil palm tree…The trees, which were previously found only in Africa, are now grown in Asia, North America and South America – coinciding with the increasing demand for this versatile oil…

However Palm oil can be produced more sustainably and there is a role for companies, governments, and consumers to play. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO was formed in 2004 in response to increasing concerns about the impacts palm oil was having on the environment and on society. The RSPO has a production standard that sets best practices for producing and sourcing palm oil, and it has the buy-in of most of the global industry.

Groundnut (peanut) oil…A virtually flavourless oil which is used for frying, baking and making dressing such as mayonnaise.

Canola… a Canadian-developed-and-marketed oil pressed from a type of rape seed (Brassica napus or Brassica rapa), a member of the mustard family. Most canola oil is refined, meaning that it has a high smoke point, and is useful for frying, sautéing and stir-frying. It is also widely used in baking, as a component of salad dressings and to make margarine. It is a light, neutral-tasting oil, meaning that it doesn’t add additional flavour to your dish or baked foods.

Avocado oil has a similar composition to olive oil. It’s mainly monounsaturated with some saturated and polyunsaturated fats mixed in…Refined avocado oil has a high smoke point of 520°F (270°C) and a slightly nutty taste.

Olive Oil… One of my preferred choices of oil …Olives are a fruit that I never liked as a child but acquired the taste for as I grew older…Olive oil is a beautiful thing and when I am not using coconut oil for cooking I use olive oil it is also most suited to Mediterranean-type recipes as well…

But be careful when you buy it as is the case with everything now some oils are a blend of many oils or so highly processed and are not classed as proper Olive oil….There are so many different dishes which are all better for the addition of olive oil. Health-wise it is classed as a superfood as it is so beneficial to our health.

Two of my favourite ways of using olive oil are with balsamic vinegar and beautiful home-baked bread or cooked with chorizo…a lovely tapas…

Chorizo cooked with garlic and dried chillies in olive oil make a lovely little snack or tapas with some lovely bread to mop up the juices. Just take some sliced chorizo and cook it in Olive oil until it is browned and the lovely orange colour from the chorizo leaks into the olive oil….Just beautiful and so easy to make at home.

Vegetable oil… a blend of oils which usually includes corn and other vegetables is cheap, flavourless and useful for most types of cooking.

Soybean Oil… for production, the soybean is allowed to mature on the plant, after which it is harvested and prepared for processing into oil. The Soy Info Center says that over 90 per cent of the world’s soybean oil is processed via chemical extraction, using hexane …Soybean oil is neutral tasting, highly refined and has a high smoke point, making it useful for deep and stir-frying and for baking. It is also used in commercial, processed food. Many oils marketed as “vegetable oil” are, in fact, soybean oil (but sometimes also safflower oil).

Coconut oil…There are varying views and there have been some controversial headlines over the last few years…Coconut oil is “pure poison,” says a Harvard professor… Good fats come mainly from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fish. Healthy fats are liquid at room temperature, not solid…..

The plot thickens my coconut oil is liquid? I know coconuts are high in saturated fats but…MODERATION… My health has improved since I have incorporated coconut oil etc in my diet although depending on what I am making I may use olive oil or another healthy oil again it is about balance and moderation…

Some research states that the saturated fat from the coconut may react differently to other saturated fats in our bodies…..Why? Because most of the saturated fats in coconut are medium-chain fatty acids whose properties and metabolism are different from those of animal origin. Medium-chain fatty acids do not undergo degradation and re-esterification processes and are directly used in the body to produce energy. They are not as ‘bad for health’ as other saturated fats.

Also if you would like to make a lovely gift for that special someone then this makes a beautiful gift …How to make your own coconut oil…The traditional Thai way…

Ghee… Is also one of my kitchen staples…

Ghee is a type of clarified butter that contains fewer dairy proteins than regular butter. This ingredient can be used in place of regular butter.

Ghee can be used as a substitute for butter, and many people think that ghee might be a more healthful alternative for using in cooking.

It has been used in Indian and Pakistani cultures for thousands of years. The term comes from the Sanskrit word meaning “sprinkled.” Ghee was created to prevent the butter from spoiling during warm weather.

Flavoured oils…

Herb-infused oils…There are many different herb-infused oils they are also so easy to make at home. Just half fill a clean sterilised jar with washed and dried herbs such as rosemary or basil. Pour over olive oil to cover and seal the jar. Place it in a cool, dark place for 3 days. Strain the oil into a clean sterilised bottle or jar and discard the herbs.

If you like you can add a piece of freshly washed and dried herb which looks pretty and makes a lovely gift.

Chilli oil…Add several dried chillies to a bottle of olive oil and leave to infuse for about two weeks before using. If the flavour is not to your taste then leave for another week…it all depends on taste and the chillies. The chillies can also be left in the bottle and again look very nice and make a lovely gift with a handwritten label.

Garlic oil…Add several whole garlic cloves to a bottle of olive oil and leave to infuse for about two weeks if preferred you can strain into a clean bottle and store in a cool, dark place.

I have only given you a brief overview of these oils and advise that you do your own research and don’t listen to scaremongering but also remember it is moderation and any foods or drinks which are consumed excessively will have an effect on your health and well being…

I hope you are finding these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Until next week when in-store cupboard basics will be vinegar, sauces and condiments…xxx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a relaxing week x

This Week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 5…Bottled/canned goods…

It takes time (and) money to build up a store cupboard so I am breaking it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who are not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Staples range from flour, sugar, canned goods, oils, rice, pasta, dried herbs, stock cubes(bouillon)...Today I am looking at Canned and bottled store cupboard staples.

I do think aesthetically food stored in jars looks so much more appealing…Don’t you?

pickles-700131_640

Many foods taste better when they are fresh however some canned/bottled goods are as good or better than the fresh variety. These include canned/bottled beans, peas and lentils which simply require rinsing before using. Some canned fish and shellfish such as tuna or crab are significantly cheaper than the fresh varieties and make excellent additions to baked pasta dishes and salads.

I would just advise moderation or finding a glass jar option…I will say I am seeing more and more goods in glass rather than cans.

Canned tomatoes are sometimes cheaper and more convenient to use than fresh tomatoes…However…

Tomatoes for me are imported here thus canned tomatoes are much more expensive…there is also the issue of the coating inside the cans…

Bisphenol A (BPA)  on the inside of food cans.

The chemical, used since the 1960s to make certain types of plastic, mimics the female sex hormone oestrogen and has been linked to low sperm counts and infertility in men, as well as breast and prostate cancer.

That is why my advice is if you can get a similar product in a glass bottle or jar then it is safer.

I used to have a large store of canned goods but now I have very few…they are Tomato puree, sardines, tuna, kidney beans and sweet corn kernels…plus fish… that’s it…

cherry tomatoes

 

Tomatoes are cheap here and available all year round…Once blitzed they freeze well and they are quick to prepare… when I first started doing them I used to remove the skins and now I just blitz the whole tomato and be done with it. Unless it is a dish where the skins are really obvious but in a chilli or spag bowl you don’t notice the skins they break down and it is a little more fibre in your diet…

Sardines and tuna I buy tinned because there is a lot of publicity about the farming of fish here so I am going to take my chances …I certainly don’t even use a tin a week or even a month it is just handy to have…Also canned fish is generally higher in vitamins and nutrients, the bones are soft so we can eat them…Which especially with small fish like sardines much better than picking out fiddly bones…it is also generally frozen on the boats so really fresh…

The downside is that there is more sodium but then if I am using them in a recipe I adjust the salt accordingly…

Sweetcorn, I keep 2 cans… A small can and a larger can…Ideal in a rice salad or on a jacket potato or in a pasta salad…However, now food shortages are here and it will probably get worse I am increasing the size of my store cupboard where I can…I am not stockpiling as it goes against everything I believe in…

Many of the other vegetables that I keep just as a standby…I can get them in glass jars…Or if you are into home canning then that’s the way to go you can eat foods out of season which is what my mother always used to do…it is also what I do if space and volume allow…

Pickles come in glass jars purely as the acid would react to the metal but from a safety point, glass jars are better than cans…

The bonus is glass jars can be sterilised and reused…Less to go into the waste…and free if you buy something in a glass jar then get rid of the label and viola you have a jar to reuse which makes me pickier when shopping as I know the size of glass jars which suit my needs when pickling…its all about planning…my guilty pleasure in my store cupboard is corned beef I love tinned corn beef lovely in corn beef hash or just a corn beef sandwich, of course, its not anything like proper corned beef but as I said it’s my guilty pleasure-smile-

Time for a store cupboard recipe…

We love pickled eggs…Do you love pickled eggs??

Jalapeno Pickled Eggs:

jalapeno pickled eggs

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 a cup of Cider Vinegar.
  • 3/4 a cup of water.
  • 1/2 cup of sugar plus 1 tbsp sugar.
  • 6 cloves.
  • 2 Jalapenos cut in half lengthwise and deseeded.
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds.
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 onion sliced.
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 9 Hard-boiled eggs, peeled.

Let’s Cook!

Boil eggs for 10-15 mins until hard. Remove from heat and put into cold water.

In a medium pan, put vinegar, water( or beet juice) if using, onion, jalapenos, sugar, and spices. Bring to the boil and cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Pour vinegar over eggs making sure they are completely covered.

If using beet juice also put some beet in the jar with the eggs. You will then have pickled beets as well.

Make sure the lid is tight and refrigerate. The eggs will be ready to eat in a few days and will keep for up to a month if you haven’t already eaten them.

Curried Pickled Eggs:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cider vinegar.
  • 3/4 a cup of water.
  • 1/4 of an onion.
  • 3/4 cup white sugar.
  • 3 cardamon pods
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds( yellow or brown)
  • I tbsp yellow curry paste.

Let’s Cook!

As above bring all the ingredients to a boil until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool a little and then pour the vinegar mix over the eggs making sure they are completely covered.

Allow to pickle for a few days in the fridge they are then ready to eat… Left with lots of pickle juice ????

Don’t want to waste that pickle juice???    Then have a …

Pickleback

What is a pickleback? You are about to find out!

It’s a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice and some even follow that with a beer chaser…

A popular drink in bars around the world and apparently very good….Have you tried a pickleback????

The real beauty about using jars is that they look pretty, can be reused so pluses all round…As I said I keep the odd canned goods but not many I use mainly jars which store equally as well…

Thank you for joining me today…As always I look forward to your comments xx

This week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Part 2…Pasta and Noodles…

 

Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…

We all need a well-stocked store cupboard…Of things we use and maybe just a few we don’t use so often but keep and store well…

It takes time (and) money to build up a store cupboard so I am breaking it down into easy stages…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Don’t they always though…haha

Staples range from flour, sugar, canned goods, oils, rice, pasta, dried herbs, stock cubes(bouillon)...Today I am looking at Pasta and Noodles…

Mixed pasta and noodles

Pasta and noodles keep well and are invaluable store cupboard staples as they can be used in many dishes either hot or cold…

Pasta…

Dried pasta keeps for months in an airtight container and can also look very pretty stored on your kitchen counter…Do however always check the pack for information on storage.

Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. Egg pasta is enriched with egg yolks and has a richer flavour than plain pasta it is also often more expensive than plain dried varieties however it is all in the sauce and bog-standard plain pasta can be elevated with a good sauce…It is all about personal taste or the occasion…

Pasta should be cooked in plenty of water heated to a rolling boil…Just be aware that fresh pasta cooks very quickly and is bought chilled or if you are clever and make your own …Well done…Something I have never attempted…If you buy fresh pasta it can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for several months.

I am lucky enough to have found a source here which sells lovely coloured fresh pasta which is coloured with natural colours i.e beetroot…

Pasta also comes in tiny shapes which are ideal for soups and kids like them…Thes lovely little alphabet shapes served with a homemade tomato sauce…Kids love it!

 

alphabet pasta shapes

You can freeze small portions of sauce and keep a supply of pasta in your store cupboard …20 mins and the kids are fed and happy…

Noodles…

Noodles are very very popular here and sold fresh, dried and ready-cooked everywhere…They are a staple in the Thai diet… and served at most meals…

Rice Noodles…

These translucent white noodles are a great alternative to wheat noodles especially for those on a gluten-free diet.  They are available as broad flat or thin noodles that can be added to stir-fries and soups as well as used cold as a base for salads. Easy to prepare as they need no cooking just soak in boiling water for about 5 mins depending on the size of the noodles then use as required.

prawns with glass noodles

This is a typical Thai glass noodle salad…normally quite spicy….Lovely…Quick and easy to use they are a good standby in your store cupboard.

Egg Noodles…

Made from wheat flour and eggs may be thick, medium or thin again very popular in both Chinese and Asian stir-fries or deep-fried as a garnish…who doesn’t love crispy noodles? Here they are used as a garnish for my favourite Khao Soi…A Thai Yellow noodle chicken curry…

Egg noodles can be brought dry or fresh, store accordingly to the type …dry for the store cupboard and fresh for the fridge or frozen…

Egg noodles have a lovely nutty taste and are a good value for money as well as being a versatile store cupboard ingredient…Like rice noodles they can be served in hot or cold dishes they lend themselves to both…

Couscous and Polenta…

Like pasta and noodles are cheap to buy and can be used as a base for many dishes…Mild in flavour they go very well with strongly flavoured food such as aromatics, herbs and spices.

Couscous is made from durum wheat and is often thought of as a type of pasta it is also a handy store cupboard staple. Traditionally couscous needed a long steaming before serving whereas there are now many supermarket instant brands or ones which only need a quick pre-soaking in water. Classically known as an accompaniment for Moroccan tagines it is now more popular and goes well with meat, fish or vegetable stews. Also, an excellent base for salads it is very economical.

My tried and tested recipe for tagine…This was one of my first attempts and using prunes which neither hubby or the grandkids would have tried if they had known…Sometimes we have to be sneaky then food is tried with an open mind…I have learnt that much over the years…haha

Chicken and Prune Tagine/Stew

Ingredients:

• 4 large chicken breasts, skinned and cut into cubes
• 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil I used coconut oil
• 1/2 tsp Ground Allspice
• 1/2 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
• 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
• 2 tsp Cumin Seeds
• 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg
• 1 tsp Ground Turmeric
• 200g/7oz pitted Prunes
• 2 large Onions, sliced
• 1 tbsp freshly grated Ginger
• 3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
• Salt to taste
• 14fl.oz fresh Chicken Stock

 

Let’s Cook!

  • Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan then add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides.
  • Add the spices, garlic, ginger, and onions and cook stirring over medium heat until the onions have softened.
  • Add the stock and season with salt then bring to a slow rolling boil and reduce the heat to very low, cover and cook for about one hour stirring occasionally.
  • At the end of the cooking remove the lid and increase the heat to reduce the sauce.
  • Serve with rice or couscous.

 

 

The verdict…It is lovely with couscous…

Everyone including little Lily loved it. After they had expressed their delight and hubby said he thought the black things were mushrooms(shitake) and grandson asked for more I confessed the dish contained prunes, a dish which is now a family favourite… I was pleasantly surprised at that given the lack of chilli and some of the spices used. The biggest plus is now the grandkids will try dishes with prunes…Result…

Polenta…

Is made from finely ground cornmeal…Cooked with water and either served soft rather like mashed potato or left to set then cut into pieces and grilled( broiled) or fried. Again a mild flavour and best served with flavourful ingredients…

It can also be used in baking…my preference is a polenta cake rather than as a savoury side…

Again another good store cupboard essential which is now sold both ready-made or a quick cook product…All I would say is check what has been added…Many quick quick and ready-made products contain additives.

That’s all for Pasta and noodles so now our store cupboard can be stocked up a little more…Next week it is rice…

TIP OF THE WEEK.

You are reading a recipe and come across something you have never heard of or know it is ridiculously expensive and doesn’t store well…It is well worth the time learning what you can substitute for an ingredient and often it doesn’t alter the taste at all …I will do a post on substitutes at a later date…But always do your research don’t let one ingredient put you off making a recipe…

Thank you for joining me in my kitchen I hope you have some fun and came away learning something or maybe you have some store cupboard tips? If so please share I love it when we have interaction and it benefits us all xx

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you are all having a lovely productive week  xx

CarolCooks2…Weekly roundup…Chocolate, Health, Recipes …Week ending 10th Nov 2019…

Welcome to this week’s roundup and do I have some goodies for you…Lots of things going on in the world first it was Halloween …I also have some Halloween pictures for you…Then Guy Fawkes, The election in the UK which I am following but will not be commenting on I will leave that to everyone else…Back to Haloween and let’s have a mop-up of the photos…

I don’t really know many people in the UK who are big on Halloween but Tori waves the flag for Halloween and her pumpkin pie looks very nice…This one is her very prettily decorated window and the rest you will find by clicking the link… there are photos of her fur babies and a recipe for the pie inc a vegan version of pumpkin pie…Enjoy!

Halloween window display with hanging bat, ghost, beware sign, maple leaf, frankenstein, candle, and pumpkins

I managed to find some Gingko nuts so I will be experimenting with some recipes…If anyone already has some tried and tested recipes with Gingko nuts please share…The rice was harvested last week down on the farm and it was a bumper crop this year…The taste of fresh new rice is very nice better than any that you buy…

So without any more ado let’s see what has been going on this week in my blogging world?

Monday… Recycling and environmental News…

I don’t think I will ever run out of anything to say on this topic for a long time…The chocolate industry is still having problems and using child labour now if that isn’t a reason to give chocolate I don’t know…

circular recycling the world and a green leaf

I talked about making your own recyclable and reusable Christmas decorations and also about the plastic waste of which there is lots of great news but also lots we can still do…Steve Tanham the man who is flying the flag for eco-bricks here has written a very good post with lots more information so don’t miss tomorrow’s post where all will be revealed…

https://carolcooks2.com/2019/11/04/recycling-and-environmental-news-4th-nov-2019homemade-advent-calendar/

Tuesday…Christmas Crafts…

This was the first post in my Christmas run-up…gently easing you in…haha…Some more ideas for Christmas crafts and my recipe for Sweet Mincemeat just in case you missed it…I have just found a yummy looking recipe for mince pies with cinnamon swirls… it looks like I will be busy in the kitchen for the next few weeks… well until after Christmas now I would say…

lady reading recipe book with wooden spoon in hand

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

I have had a little lull what with my laptop woes which just threw me a little and various other little hiccups but I am now back on track…I have my cooking head firmly in place again…

https://carolcooks2.com/2019/11/05/christmas-crafts-d-i-y-crackers-advent-calendars-sweet-mincemeat/

Wednesday…one of my favourite posts where I can indulge myself and anything goes…

This week was no different there was stone soup…Have you heard of that? I hadn’t, pantomime, Simon & Garfunkle…I mentioned the Spice Girls and Harry Potter…The Charade…A short story…It was also National Fig week with recipes…Pop over and have a read you may find something of interest or which will make you smile and remember…

figs-2662883_1920

 

https://carolcooks2.com/2019/11/06/whimsical-wednesday-with-carol-17/

Thursday…Frozen Shoulder…

Not something thankfully I have experienced but I know many who have and it is by all accounts extremely painful…Sally from Smorgasbord Health has herself suffered from a frozen shoulder…In this post, she explains …

Why do so many people in their 50s suffer from a frozen shoulder?

 

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/10/31/smorgasbord-health-column-why-do-so-many-people-in-their-50s-suffer-from-a-frozen-shoulder-by-sally-cronin/

Friday…The final part of Store Cupboard Basics…Dried herbs and stock ( Bouillon) cubes…

Although I use mainly fresh herbs and make my own stock…There is always a time when dried is best especially in baking and sometimes we need some stock quickly and maybe we haven’t time to defrost some or have run out hence it is always a good idea to have a small stock.

https://carolcooks2.com/2019/11/08/this-week-in-my-kitchen-store-cupboard-basics-dried-herbs-and-stock-bouilloncubes/

Saturday…Loy( Loi) Krathong…

A Thai Festival which dates back 6,000 years…It is a beautiful festival I mean water, candles, flowers and beautiful girls however as ancient as it is I am pleased that certain things as in the making of the Krathong are being changed.

This is our little grandaughter with her Krathong made from banana leaves and fresh flowers…Isn’t it pretty?

 

I am certain all those years ago natural products were used and then with the invention of styrofoam things changed and now it is changing again as styrofoam does not decompose and neither do the steel nails used. The bases are being made now from either bread or banana tree stems and if wooden nails or little stakes were used to fix them together that would be a real step in the right direction but the signs are positive…

https://carolcooks2.com/2019/11/09/thailand-loyloi-krathong/

Thank you for reading have a great weekend xx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and well being.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all having a relaxing weekend xx

 

This week in my kitchen…Store Cupboard Basics…Dried herbs and stock (Bouillon)cubes…

Welcome to the final week of Store Cupboard Basics where this week I will explore dried herbs and stock cubes…

I hope you have found these posts on store cupboard basics helpful…It does take time (and) money to build up a store cupboard which is why I broke it down into easy stages…Just for those of you who were not sure just where to start…

Whether you call it a cupboard or a pantry a savvy cook knows it helps them create delicious, economical dishes without using expensive ingredients or having to pop out and hope no one sees us without our slap…Picture the scene… we are halfway through making a new recipe…We can taste it…Then up pops the ingredient we thought we had in the cupboard or we missed that bit of the recipe…The shop is shut…It is raining…We are in our house clothes…Don’t they always though…haha

Dried herbs and stock cubes…

Both cheap and very useful dried herbs and stock(bouillon) cubes are convenient standbys when you don’t have fresh stock or herbs to hand.

Some recipes, of course, you will be only able to use the fresh type.

Dried herbs are much more concentrated in flavour than fresh herbs so bear that in mind as you will overpower your dish. You can always add more but once added sometimes the dish is just spoilt as too much can be overpowering.

Salt…

I am very lucky and this is where I get my salt from as these salt flats are quite close to my home in Northern Thailand.

A key ingredient salt adds flavour and brings out the flavour in other foods. It also acts as a preservative when it is used in pickling and chutney making or when curing meats and fish where it draws out moisture and prevents decomposition. It is worth paying a little extra for rock or sea salt since these do not contain any added chemicals which are often found in cheap table salt.  Sea salt has a stronger taste than table salt so use in moderation and add a little at a time and taste to prevent oversalting.

There have been a lot of scare stories regarding the use of salt and of course, we should watch our intake BUT much of the salt people consume is hidden and in highly processed foods which if you exclude THESE from your diet it will reduce your consumption of salt. If I am using stock or bouillon then I am careful and sometimes I don’t add additional salt to a dish this is where tasting frequently during cooking becomes important…

Bay…

dried bay leaves and jar

A fragrant leaf from a laurel tree that is used as a herb. Bay leaves can be used fresh or dried; dried bay leaves tend to have a slightly stronger flavour.

Bay leaves are not generally eaten but are rather simmered in a sauce or included in a braising liquid like a stew or casserole, and then removed before serving. A bay leaf is sometimes ground into a powder and used almost like a spice I dry roast them an grind them when I make my Indian curry powders.

In addition to simmering them in soups and stews, bay leaves are great for stuffing into the cavity of a chicken before roasting it, and they can be added to the liquid for cooking rice.

 

Basil…

Although my preference is for fresh basil I do always have a small pot of dried basil in my store cupboard. The sweet and pungent basil is an essential herb in the kitchen because it can do wonders for a whole bunch of dishes. While cooking with dried basil, ensure that you use it, in the beginning, to allow it to develop its flavour.

Fenugreek…

Another kitchen essential in my cupboard…Kasoori methi or fenugreek leaves have an incredible ability to instantly elevate the flavours in a dish. It is a common ingredient in Indian cooking, being credited for popular dishes like butter chicken and methi aloo. Even adding a spoonful of it to dal can make the humble dish taste divine. Sprinkle some while making and kneading your dough for rotis and parathas for a flavour boost.

Oregano…

oregano-2119598_640

Again a much-used herb in my cooking I mean can you imagine biting into your favourite slice of pizza without sprinkling some oregano on it? This is possibly the one herb you should have, and the one that you must, especially if you love Italian food.

The bitter and lemony flavour of the herb makes it blend well in pasta sauces, salads and pizzas. It is extensively used in Mediterranean cuisine, and the good part is that it doesn’t overpower the other flavours in a dish. You can use it in your everyday cooking by adding it to toasts, sandwiches and even quick stir-fries.
Sage…

Sage is a herb which is commonly used in Italian cuisine it is one I always use when I am cooking pork although I prefer fresh sage dried it has its uses when making tomato-based sauces and again one I use quite a lot we love sage. I also make my own stuffings so again dried sage is a wonderful addition.

But fresh sage as above is wonderful cooked in butter or crispy as a garnish.

Tarragon…

The summer French herb can be used in everyday cooking by getting your hands on the dried version. The sweet and almost vanilla flavoured herb pairs best with eggs, cheese, seafood, chicken and fruits, and is an important ingredient in French cooking. Use it while making baked dishes, pasta, vegetable au gratin, soups and grilled meats.

Thyme…

A relative of oregano, thyme is used extensively in cooking while preparing soups and meat-based dishes. Its pungent minty flavour works wonders in stir-fries and baked pies as well. It is a key ingredient in the popular Middle East condiment called za’atar.

Of course, these are dried herbs which I use a lot in my cooking you may use dried parsley, rosemary, mint… I don’t find I have any use for those dried I always use fresh…What are your favourite and most used dried herbs? Do you dry your own?

Stock(bouillon) cubes…

These come in handy little cubes and are an excellent way to add flavour to your cooked meat and vegetable dishes, although if you are making soup the taste will be far superior if you make your own stock if you can.

It is also worth paying that little bit extra for good quality stock/bouillon cubes because cheaper ones tend to contain a lot of salt.

I always carry a small stock of different flavours just in case I run out of fresh stock or am in a hurry just always ensure if using the cubes that you taste before you add extra salt to your dish.

This is the last of my store cupboard basics I do hope you have found it useful…xx

About Carol Taylor:

Enjoying life in The Land Of Smiles I am having so much fun researching, finding new, authentic recipes both Thai and International to share with you. New recipes gleaned from those who I have met on my travels or are just passing through and stopped for a while. I hope you enjoy them.

I love shopping at the local markets, finding fresh, natural ingredients, new strange fruits and vegetable ones I have never seen or cooked with. I am generally the only European person and attract much attention and I love to try what I am offered and when I smile and say Aroy or Saab as it is here in the north I am met with much smiling.

Some of my recipes may not be in line with traditional ingredients and methods of cooking but are recipes I know and have become to love and maybe if you dare to try you will too. You will always get more than just a recipe from me as I love to research and find out what other properties the ingredients I use contain to improve our health and well being.

The environment is also something I am passionate about and there are now regular columns on my blog this year. It is important that we are mindful of the world we live in…

Exciting for me hence the title of my blog, Retired No One Told Me! I am having a wonderful ride and don’t want to get off, so if you wish to follow me on my adventures, then welcome! I hope you enjoy the ride also and if it encourages you to take a step into the unknown or untried, you know you want to…….Then, I will be happy!

Thank you once again for reading this post I hope you all have a relaxing weekend xx