In my presses

I’m a messy cook. I rarely follow a recipe. I often just look at a food picture, a program or will work from memory from what I’ve eaten somewhere. I like to just play with ingredients and see what happens. This means that the basics in my kitchen are quite important to how I cook so I’ll share them with you now.


I buy them from the Asian markets around town, the helpings are generous and so much cheaper than in the regular supermarkets.

I always try and have the following in stock:

– chilli (whichever type you like but the hotter the better for me)

– ginger

– turmeric

– celery salt (one of my favourites)

– cumin

– nutmeg

– cinnamon


I tried growing my own in the garden this year and some did quite well. I froze everything that was still growing by the end of October. I prefer frozen to dried herbs given a choice. They can be cheaper too if you buy the fresh herb pots on special offer. 

There are always few of these knocking around be it fresh in the summer or frozen or dried the rest of the year:

– mint

– parsley

– dill (possibly my favourite)

– tarragon

– rosemary

– thyme

– sage

Pulses and dry goods

I buy those dried in the Asian markets. The price per kilo is much cheaper when bought dried than if you bought a tin of chick peas. 

– rice (buy in bulk  if you can. It lasts forever and it’s good to have a couple of types in the press: basmati/ brown/ wild/ long grain

– chick peas

– lentils (brown and read)

– couscous

– waxy potatoes (can’t manage the floury ones at all)

– varied beans


Everything else I try to keep topped up.

– tinned tomatoes

– tomato purée

– anchovies

– salt and pepper

– vanilla

– garlic, shallots, onions (not mad about the red ones)

– lemons

– oil and vinegars (I tend to stock a wide variety of vinegar but really you can always just use lemon juice)

– seeds (mixed – I buy them when they’re on offer in the health shop)

– soy sauce (I always keep some peeled garlic cloves in a soy sauce jar in the fridge. It gives a smoked taste to the soy sauce and the grated garlic is lovely on seafood. I’m sure it would work just as well with tofu.)

Looking back up I’m not sure that’s just basics or staples any more, but those are what you will always find in my kitchen.

What are yours? What can’t you do without?

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