I love cooking more and more each day
My love affair with cooking began back in 2010 when I lost 70 pounds. I cooked all kinds of things from stir-fry, to soups. I learned most of my skills from watching online tutorials and discovering cooking channels on YouTube – as you can read in my recent post on my favorite YouTube cooking channels.
Over the years, I got lazy and it showed. I gained all that weight back when I went back to eating processed foods and pizza. The pizza delivery guy was at my door so often he knew me by first name and we would exchange awkward glances when I handed him his tip.
I rediscovered my passion for cooking back in May when I started blogging about my fitness challenge. To my dismay, most of the spices and items I had stocked up on in 2017, had expired. So, I am slowly stocking my kitchen up with the basics that everyone should have in their kitchen.
Here’s a picture of a veggie and cheese casserole I made last year. It was amazing.
Key ingredients every chef should have at home
If you’re interested in learning to cook, here are some basic ingredients every beginner chef should have in their kitchen. By no means is this list complete. These are just some helpful hints and tips I’ve learned on my cooking journey.
Garlic – minced, whole or peeled
Garlic is the staple behind many recipes for flavour. Most chefs prefer garlic fresh. But since I’m not a fan of smelling like garlic all the time, I opt for minced garlic or a nice mixed garlic spice like this one from Club House.
Helpful hint: when making casseroles or dishes that contain mushrooms and onions – fry your onions first with a bit of garlic and seasoning. Add in the mushrooms and your choice of spices. Trust me. This will help bring out the flavour in your dish.
Onions come in many colours and sizes. The most popular are green onions (scallions), yellow onions, sweet onions and red onions. At least, these are the onions that I enjoy cooking with.
The best season to buy onions is in winter months, but onions are available year round in most grocery stores and markets. Onions are fairly inexpensive and can be used in most dishes. It is best to buy fresh onions. You can pre-cut onions but it is best to cut into them as you prep your meal.
Helpful hint: to make your onions last longer, store them in a dry, dark and cool room. A wine cellar or pantry is ideal. I keep mine in the bottom drawer of the fridge because I just don’t have anywhere else to store them.
I love cooking oils. It was Jamie Oliver who got me hooked on cooking with Olive Oil. I made the switch from generic Vegetable Oil like my mum used to use to Olive Oil a few years ago. And it’s something I don’t regret. Here are a few of my favorite cooking oils that help bring out the flavour in home cooking.
You can’t go wrong with Bertolli oils. These are good quality oils that can be used in most recipes. I tend to go for Olive Oil, but Virgin Olive Oil is good too.
I’m still new to cooking with vinegar. But I’ve come across a lot of recipes like soup bases or cooking with red meat that calls for red and white vinegar. Vinegar in combination with oils, can also be used to create your own dressings for salads. I love the Balsamic vinegar – it’s super tasty.
Remember – you don’t have to spend a lot of money on vinegar. I just like having fancy bottles like in the picture below. So I can pretend I’m rich and stuff.
Helpful hint: if you have a lot of vinegar left over – keep in mind that you can also use vinegar in combination with baking soda to clean your home!
When I realized how many calories I was eating up in creamy sauces, I looked for alternative ways to spice up my cooking. I happily discovered that fresh spices and herbs were the way to go. Here are some fresh herbs that you definitely want to keep handy.
- Bay leaves (stock, soup bases)
Helpful hint: the best thing about fresh herbs – is that if you have a green thumb, you can regrow herbs easily and keep them on hand at all times.
Spices are another great way to add flavour to your dishes. I learned this month as I cleaned out my cupboards that spices do have a shelf life. If stored properly, spices can last 2-3 years. I use mason jars for my spices and buy spices when they go on sale. McCormick and ClubHouse are my go-to brands. But I often go for Suraj Spices – these spices tend to be less expensive.
Some of the more popular spices to keep on hand are:
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Celery salt
- Nutmeg and cinnamon (mostly for baking)
- Mustard seeds
- Chili flakes
- Black pepper
I don’t want to go too in depth about spices in this post. I’ll write a more in depth post on the spices I used in my dishes. Chili flakes (crushed red pepper) is a new discovery for me and I’m addicted. Its adds so much punch to rice and Quinoa dishes. And as a bonus, it also really clears up my sinuses!
I also have several spice blends on hand like Mrs. Dash, a Parmesan mix, a garlic mix, and others that fit nicely with fresh salads. I have all of these in my cupboard – and yes, they get used often. Spice blends are great for those who don’t cook often and don’t know much about mixing spices.
Helpful hint: if you are just starting out with buying spices, go for a spice rack that contains some of the spices listed above. You can’t go wrong with McCormick or Club House.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Just writing about cooking makes me hungry. I think tomorrow will be spent in the kitchen. I love creating soup recipes and I have a whole fridge worth of new ingredients to play with.
What are your favorite brands for spices and herbs? Let me know in the comments below!
Don’t forget to hit that follow button the top right corner of this page. And don’t forget to check out some of my latest posts: