It’s been a while since our last Friday Freak-Out. That doesn’t mean The Frugal Hostess hasn’t been freaking out; she’s just been keeping quiet about it. There are plenty of things to freak out about: wrinkled napkins and no time to iron (napkin rings to the rescue, darlings); house guests and nothing to serve for breakfast (uh, eat out, or just ignore the problem); or a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear out (white shirt with jeans and very, very high heels).
Today, The Frugal Hostess offers a short list of things you should keep in your kitchen so that you are never caught by surprise by a food occasion. These are all long-lasting supplies that should stand you in good stead for quite some time. By themselves, they’ll combine to make something decent to eat, and, with the addition of one or two fresh ingredients, you’ll have a feast. (You could make a checklist of these staples to review as you make your grocery list, so you’re sure to always have them.)
Here they are:
Salt and pepper
Balsamic or red wine vinegar
Canned or frozen corn kernels
Jar of roasted peppers
Cans of beans (black, navy, and garbanzo)
Pantry food equations:
1. Capers + olive oil + parmesan cheese + S&P = good, if boring, flavors for pasta
Add anchovies or olives or tomatoes or spinach or roasted peppers (or any combination thereof) for something a little more exciting.
Add fresh shrimp or chicken or tofu and onions or garlic when you have it.
Voila – at least ten options for a pasta dinner.
2. Beans + rice + roasted peppers + Tabasco = perfect meatless Monday meal.
Add canned corn, tomatoes, and olives for a bit more flavor.
Add chopped fresh onions and tomatoes on top; or put into a tortilla; or shred in some leftover chicken; or add some stock to make soup.
Presto – at least eight versions of beans and rice.
Hors d’ Oeuvres
Olives + bowl = item 1
Parmesan cheese + slicer = item 2 (add bread, crackers, or ham/prosciutto slices if you have them)
Toothpick + anchovy + roasted pepper + caper = item 3
Canned corn + can of black beans + half can tomatoes (all drained) + Tabasco + roasted red peppers = item 4, salsa (add chips).
Olive oil + vinegar + Dijon mustard + salt & pepper
Add finely minced garlic or shallot; or fresh or dried herbs; or egg yolk to replace mustard; or honey and Tabasco
Spinach + roasted red peppers
Canned corn + parmesan cheese
Canned tomatoes + capers
And behold – a minimum of seven more things to eat, plus several ways to dress a salad. The Frugal Hostess does not ever want to hear you freak out again.