Fall is my favorite time of year, colors, crisp breezes, and warm food. As a young person, I was always fascinated how my mother managed to accomplish so much in a single day. She worked full time, had a part time job, and we always had fresh food. If she was going away, meals would be prepared in advance and placed in individual containers in the freezer for my Dad to heat up at his will. Surely watching my mother in the kitchen for years has played a role both in my love for cooking, and my commitment being able to provide fresh, tasty, nutritious meals for any season in a snap.
Recently a friend asked me what my kitchen cupboard staples, the things I always have in the cupboard. It took me a moment, as I had not previously thought consciously of this list, and I knew I had one. Voila!
Capers in salt
Spaghetti + pulse pasta (1-2 boxes)
Jar of oats
2 kinds of dried lentils, dried chick peas, & borlotti beans
Jar of chick peas & a can of red beans
Whole red onions (in a dark dry place they keep 2-3 months)
Pickles & pickled onions
Olives (pitted and non)
A bottle of pure lemon juice
Anchovies in a jar & sardines in a can
Parmesan cheese, whole slab for grating
1-2 bars of dark chocolate
Ginger (fresh root can stay up to 2 months)
Dried oregano, cumin & thyme
Ground cinnamon, cardamom, & chili
Salt, sugar, pepper (Claudio’s special blend for us – soon to be on sale)
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar
In the freezer a cut of salmon, homemade bread sliced, a slab of Claudio’s favorite bread, whole chicken (usually a small Cornish game hen), 1-2 turkey leg(s), and freshly frozen (by me) berries & basil paste (from our plant).
And the real secret of success from my mothers workshop, especially in fall, re-entered my life about two years ago; the crock pot.
Ever suspicious of anything electric that is left unattended Claudio was not immediately convinced of this gadget. Now, he is a devout convert.
We started with a small pot, which came with instructions and recipes in Spanish and it was Claudio who perfected them, by the time we had graduated to the larger pot we have now (pictured) he was a master ratatouille and roast maker in the crockpot.
One of the magical parts of having a crockpot is that you can pretty much chuck anything in it and have a meal the next morning or the same night (if you put it on in the morning). For example, looking at my list of kitchen staples there are several hidden meals. Two of them are attached here; Crock pot staples 1 & 2. A third recipe, one of my favorites, Turkey leg stew is also included in the recipes.
This post is mostly void of photos as while what we make in the crock pot tastes delicious, the results are not exactly picturesque. Experiment with the recipes and see the results for yourself.