What is a basic ingredient?
I like cooking with basic ingredients: ingredients that are often found as-is in nature, that have not been shaped for cosmetic appearances, have additives or preservatives, be “fortified” with anything for any reason, or with as little processing as possible.
Let’s take spices, for example. I make my own spice blends, and lean towards buying spices as a basic ingredient that cannot be broken down any further – garlic powder instead of garlic salt or garlic seasoning, buying paprika, oregano and cayenne powder instead of “chili powder”, etc. The one exception for me, with spices, is “italian seasoning”. Most recipes tend to call for all of the basic ingredients in Italian seasoning so instead of measuring each one individually, I buy a good, organic, bulk version and save myself a wee bit of time. Or Thyme. Well, you get the idea.
Later, I promise I will blog with my spice blend recipes for anyone willing to give them a try.
For now, I want to focus a little more on basic ingredients. I want to create a menagerie of recipes that use 5 or fewer basic ingredients (whenever possible) and also, whenever possible, create a one-dish meal.
I’d hoped for that tonight, but I have two dishes that might qualify, and I’m working on simplifying at least one of those into an even better recipe with more basic ingredients and less processed foods.
The meat dish: Pork Roast, Onions, Whole Organic Cranberry Sauce (without High Fructose Corn Syrup). The salad: Organic Kale, Grapefruit, mayonnaise. Aaah, the mayo! You caught me. NOT a basic ingredient. But, it is homemade and I know exactly what is in it. (Homemade mayo will be a future blog as well. I never succeeded in making it with consistently awesome results until I used a stick blender.)
For spices, I definitely prefer basic ingredients. No hidden fillers, preservatives, sugars, calories, chemicals……the label and the ingredients are one in the same.
Fruits and Vegetables: Definitely, basics are best. We love fresh first, frozen second. Our family likes to grow our own whenever possible, buy what we can’t produces ourselves, but always check the “overripe” bins for bargains to freeze, dry, or use quickly.
Meats (for those who eat meat, like we do): Basic, basic, basic…..you can make your own breaded filets, nuggets, strips, sauces, marinades, “convenience frozen dinners” and more.
Desserts: Homemade and basic. Here’s a quick recipe: Use 1 fresh or frozen banana per serving, lay it in a baking tray. Add a dollop of (basic ingredient) peanut butter, homemade jam, jelly or preserves, and your favorite chocolate/nut spread (or another nut butter, or marshmallows if you prefer). Bake at 350 until the smell is amazing and you can no longer stand to wait, let cool while you go and walk the dog. (That way, you don’t feel guilty about the dessert.)
What is a basic ingredient?