Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Blogging a cathartic experience, who knew???..

What I thought I'd write about today is the importance of a well stocked pantry but something funny happened on the way to the forum...
written by Linda Gauthier

Cowichan Shipyard
Cowichan Bay. I used to ride my bike here when I was a kid. Ah Memories, hasn't changed much. Love it!
It seems I have always cooked and cooking has always played an important role in how I see myself.  I grew up in, by today's standards, a large family: 4 sisters, 1 brother, 2 parents and my grandfather and umpteen dozens of cats, dogs, chickens and pigs. It was wonderful, loud, busy and happy.  We didn't have much, but we didn't know it. It is funny but we never realized we were relatively poor.  We always had full stomachs, clean clothes and we always had each other. 

Where we grew up was considered in the country, in an area outside of a small town on Vancouver Island.  We were a typical family for that time, my dad worked as a mechanic, my mom stayed home to look after the family and the home.  She was a wonderful mom, she was always teaching us how to express ourselves, how to be creative, how to find our talents and our strengths.  She was also sneaky. Why would I say that? Well, with me, she saw I loved to be in the kitchen and I loved cooking and she also noted how when someone complimented me on my cooking, I stood a little taller and smiled a lot more.  What better way to pass off the chore of cooking dinners than to compliment "miss eager beaver" on making the best meat loaf, or stew, or chowder, so by the time I was twelve, I was making a lot of the dinners.  Baking breads and cakes on weekends and doing canning and preserves in the summer and fall.  Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a chore, it was love.  My first love, love of food, and you never quite get over your first love.  Not that it is a bad thing, but I have in the past used food as a crutch to help me through the bad times.  To wrap the feelings associated with it, the warmth of the emotions I associated with it, around me to drown out the issues I was dealing with during those particular times.  Whoa, whoa, whoa!  Where did that come from?  Who knew blogging was cathartic?  Sheesh!  Back on track Linda.

My Mom also taught me to keep a well supplied pantry, and that is what I started to write about before the little trip down memory lane and onto the psychiatrist's couch, so back to business. 

The importance of a well stocked pantry:

When you are trying to be more mindful of the types of foods you are eating, what they contain and how they are made, it becomes even more critical.  If you have the basics on hand, you can always create a meal.  It may take a little thinking, but you can do it.  I can remember my kids always saying "Mom, you have all this stuff, but NO food."  What they were saying is I didn't have the quick foods they wanted or it wasn't in the form they were used to seeing.

So here we go.

My Pantry:

Items from my pantry

This is a list of items I always try to have on hand:

  • all purpose flour, white and whole wheat, chickpea flour, rice flour                  
  • sugar, brown and white
  • honey
  • baking powder, yeast, baking soda, cream of tartar
  • corn starch
  • Cocoa powder for baking, drinks, sauces, etc
  • shortening
  • oils, olive, sesame and canola
  • corn meal, quick cook oats
  • rice, white and brown
  • quinoa, couscous, assorted pastas
  • chicken, beef and vegetable broth.  All low sodium
  • vinegars: apple cider, white, balsamic
  • sauces: soy sauce, fish sauce, Worcestershire, Kikkoman Ponzu (citrus seasoned soy sauce), prepared mustard, horseradish
  • peanut butter, smooth  (you can use this in baking, on toast or making peanut sauce)
  • beans, lentils, peas, dried and tinned 
  • potatoes, sweet and white, yams, onions, garlic
  • canned cream corn for soups, fritters, corn bread, etc. 
  • tinned salmon and tuna
  • tinned tomatoes, stewed and whole.  Great for quick sauces, soups, etc.
  • bottle of soda water.  This is ideal when making light batters, for instance, tempura, or for fritters or in case of a kitchen emergency a Vodka soda with lime, of course!

Extras I like to have on hand:

Wasabi, pickled ginger and anchovy paste.  A lot of my cooking is influenced by Asian cuisines.

My top 10 gotta have herbs and spices are as follows:

These are all Epicure Selection of course!
  1. 3 Onion Dip Mix, you can use this in eggs, soups, meatloaf. Anywhere you'd like a little punch of onion
  2. Bruschetta, dips, spaghetti, salads, a little bit of Italy in a jar
  3. Guacamole, dip of course, but oh so much more.  Use your imagination, it's great.
  4. Madras Curry, great in egg salad, curries of course, this is nice full flavored curry but not overpowering
  5. Seafood & Fish, barbecue salmon, steamed fish, when cooking mussels, on and on
  6. Herb & Garlic Dip, just the best, great in a dip on pizzas, in sauces, the list goes on and on I love it
  7. Tzaziki Dip, great in salads, on chicken, pasta and of course in the dip  Tzaziki  Dip in yogurt and a little lemon makes a great marinade for chicken.
  8. Tomato & Parmesan Cheese Ball, in macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, sauces. No Sodium, really good. I mean really, really good!
  9. Mango Curry Dip, just the best ever. I use it in soups, curries, dips, marinades, etc.  If you like Thai or Vietnamese cooking, you need this, its wonderful; add lime leaves (Epicure Selections of course ) and coconut milk, and you have an easy Thai curry for chicken, vegetables, etc. Serve over noodles, rice and Voila! pure magic.
  10. BLT Bacon Leeks and Tomatoes, mild onion flavour of the leeks with soy, bacon and tomatoes.  Sooo good, sprinkle in tomato soup, in sauces, in egg dishes, really good 
I also have salt, pepper and all the Epicure Sansel products (low sodium salt replacements) and cinnamon.

So there it is.  I've laid my cupboards bare and, so it seems, my soul.

I'd also like to let you know that if you're interested in any of the products I mention in my recipes, or you have any questions just email me.  If you are living in Canada and you do not have an Epicure Selections Consultant and you'd like to buy any of the Epicure Selection products please follow these steps:

  • Go to my website, look through the online catalog, and if you decide to place an order 
  • Follow the links to the order form, place your order
  • Epicure Selections will ship it directly to your home, usually within 72 hours from time of placing your order. Orders over $50 shipping is free.  We do get extremely busy during the month of December however, so place your order early if you decide to buy any as gifts.  Gift items could be delivered within Canada to your intended recipients
  • If you and a few of your friends want to place an order together, contact me and we can set your order up as a catalog party, with the designated Hostess receiving the order and the Hostess' gifts.  If you are in my area and you don't have an Epicure Selections Consultant, and you would like to host a party; or talk to me about becoming a Consultant please contact me, I'd be happy to help you. Have fun, explore and enjoy the recipes on the site.
Here's one of my favorite Epicure Soups, great for fall lunches or quick dinners.  Enjoy!

Epicure's Cream of Vegetable Soup

Epicure's Cream of Vegetable Soup

A delicious purée the whole family will love

Makes 4 servings
Cost Per Serving: $0.85


2 tbsp (30 ml) butter
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp (30 ml) all-purpose flour
4 cups (1 L) milk, heated
1 lb (450 g) cooked vegetables, your choice
1 tsp (5 ml) Epicure's Seasoning for Cheese, Chives & Bacon Dip
Epicure's Sea Salt, to taste
Epicure's Black Pepper, to taste


1. Make a white sauce by sauteing diced onions in melted butter over medium-high heat in Epicure’s 12-cup Multi-Purpose pot. Sprinkle flour over onions, stirring for 1 minute. 
2. Slowly add heated milk, whisking continuously. 
3. Bring to a slow boil until sauce has thickened. 
4. Puree cooked vegetable and Seasoning for Cheese, Chives & Bacon Dip. 
5. Add to white sauce, season to taste with Sea Salt and Black Pepper and heat until steaming.

Per serving: Calories 250, Fat 11 g (saturated 7 g, trans 0.4 g), cholesterol 35 mg, sodium 350 mg, carbohydrate 29 g (fibre 4 g, sugars 6 g), protein 11 g.


1. Broccoli with 2 - 3 tsp (10-15 ml) Epicure's Lemon Dilly Dip Mix. 
2. Wilted spinach with 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) Epicure's Nutmeg. 
3. Cauliflower with 2 - 3 tsp (10-15 ml) Epicure's Seasoning for Cheese Chive and Bacon Dip . 
4. Green peas with 2 tsp (10 ml) Epicure's Mint. 
5. Tomato: add 1 x 19 oz can (540 ml) diced tomatoes with juice and 1 tbsp (15 ml) Epicure's Pesto Herbs.


Talk to you soon,

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