Top 10 Ingredients

You know they say to organize your kitchen by making those things you use most the most accessible?

As I’m constantly on the lookout for the better/easier/more organized way, it was a fun experiment to ignore my usual organizational habits of storing like things with like things and, instead, move things around so that what I use more often is closer at hand.

(Sounds silly to have done it another way, now that I write it…)

What I was left with was a really seemingly random list of the top ten items of my kitchen and cooking

Nutritional yeast

Looks like fish food and smells worse and, probably, my most favorite thing to add to anything in need of a savory, cheesy taste. Classic example of the sum and its parts. See also: miso.


I buy all flavors of miso now; I don’t even check the label for what kind! I love them all!

Miso makes pasta and sauces very, very happy and adds a layer of depth to food, with its unexpected nutty taste.


Cashew cheese, Caesar salad dressing, dessert bases, whole handfuls when I come home starving.


I have this recurring awake-dream in which the adult me tells the 19-year-old me that she will eventually buy three heads of cauliflower per week and the young me spits on the ground or something one is wont to do before one knows anything about anything.

Whether I’m making cauliflower rice, cauliflower gnocchi, cauliflower mashed potatoes or buffalo cauliflower bites, I’m learning to give this vegetable another go.


Seriously, toothpick everything. A frilly toothpick changes a boring sandwich into a gourmet pickle and radish speared treat!


Aside from the obvious reasons, wine makes food taste . . . expensive, as if it has been prepared in a gigantic stainless steel kitchen by someone wearing a stupid hat, someone with an accent perhaps. Seriously, in between helpings for yourself, THE CHEF, use wine generously in pans after cooking onions and garlic and allow it to cook down before moving to the next step of your ingredients.

Frozen fruit

Desserts intimidate me. I feel like you have to be some kind of witch to get them to comply. I hate measuring. I hate waiting and I hate the finickiness of baking, with its intentness on checking the temperature of milk and allowing things to rise and fall and rise again… It’s not for me, but I have been asked to prepare desserts and have realized that sometimes simply heating fruit in a little water, tiny dab of salt and some citrus can create delightful things, like blackberry pears or baked apples with cinnamon.

Nature > a milk thermometer

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A small army of hot sauces

I make up weird rules for which go with what.

Cholula – everything

Tabasco – Soups and stews (not ethnic)

Sriracha – Ethnic food. And regular food. I have no sense, though, and frequently run into trouble when handed a bottle of Sriracha.

Texas Pete – I love Texas Pete on pastas and sandwiches.

Pepperocinis – Sandwiches, salads, pizza and wraps. BAM!

There are more, but I am beginning to get embarrassed.

(Sadly, jalapeno burns my fingers, so, while I love eating them, I can’t chop them.)

Dried cherries

I love them in cookies and baked things!

Who would choose a raisin over a cherry?!

So, that’s my top nine. Coming in at an even 10 are the rest of my kitchen that I love and alternately loathe, my cracked cutting board with the lip that is perfect for kneading dough, the ugly countertops I don’t have to worry over “hurting,” all the ragtag knives that I obsessively organize because it’s the peerrrfffeeecccttt knife for ________ and the big windows that mess up my food pics, but let in the sunshine.

It’s perfect.



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