About the Ingredients

There are some ingredients to which I am loyal, either by brand or variety. I will go out of my way to purchase them. Other ingredients are unique and hard to find in a store, whether it is a rare item or just not easily classified by aisle. Find more information about ingredients on this page, and check back often for updates.

 

Chocolate Chips: Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (but I don’t like their “Chunks” as much). {found at Trader Joe’s in the baking aisle}

Cocoa Powder: Valrhona. {my Whole Foods packages it in bulk and sells it by the chocolate and packaged fancy cookies}

Cooking Spray: I usually use olive oil cooking spray unless canola is way on sale.

Cucumber: I find cucumber seeds so off-putting! So I use seedless cucumbers, and slice them very thin (when the recipe calls for it). I will even use Kirby cucumbers (the smaller ones that are pickle-size) to avoid the seeds. But if all else fails and I have no other option but a regular cucumber, I peel it with a vegetable peeler, split it down the middle length-wise, and run the edge of a spoon through the seeds, to scoop them out.

Eggs: Eggs can be the source of much consternation! Just ask anyone standing in front of the eggs at Whole Foods for more than 30 seconds. They have no idea what to buy, I guarantee it. Cage-free, free-range, Omega-3 added, Organic, Brown, White, Ugh!. I deliberated quite a bit and even discussed it with a farmer, over his chickens’ eggs. Balancing health benefits, cost, and convenience, my general guiding principles are:

  • I keep two dozen eggs in my refrigerator, one for “just whites,” and one for when I will use the yolks.
  • So I can tell quickly by looking at them, even when I combine them into the same carton to save space, the eggs I purchase to just be used for the whites will have white shells; the eggs I purchase for the whole egg including the yolk will have brown shells. You can also sketch on the shell with a pencil (Y or W) if you are not into color coding, or if you have a more limited variety available.
  • For the eggs to be used just for their whites, I have come to the conclusion that the cheapest eggs will do. Nothing fancy needed. Cage-free or free-range if you’re in to thinking about the chickens hanging out on the farm. An egg white has 10-15 calories, and about 4g protein. They are a great way to boost protein in the morning, or in dishes like fried rice, without thinking about it and without adding calories.
  • For the yolk crew, I am much more particular. I grew up thinking of egg yolks as the chalky yellow/grey substance I had to avoid when eating hard boiled egg whites. I also knew they were where all the fat in the egg was. Of course, this was the 90’s when the health movement focused only on fat, not other nutrients. As I have gotten more comfortable with cooking and, er, grown-up food, and become more interested in health, I love an occasional egg yolk, prepared well. For these eggs, I will purchase those with added Omega-3’s, and cage-free, free-range and/or organic, depending on my mood and the pricing. Just something that makes it seem a little nicer {I think I am still compensating for the hard-boiled yolk from my childhood!}. An egg yolk has about 5g of fat, some protein, and 50 calories – and a ton of nutrients, especially when you add the Omegas.

Kale: Organic Lacinato (“Dinosaur”) Kale {my Whole Foods stocks it regularly}. I like lacinato kale better than curly kale because of the texture – I feel the same way about parsley, actually – flat is preferable to curly!

Milk: Organic Skim Milk {I am not particular on brand, but find that some work better than others in my Mr. Coffee Latte machine!}

Onions: I stock sweet onions in bulk. I will only pick up white/yellow/spanish/regular when I can’t find sweet, or if I’m at a farmer’s market, or need particularly small or large onions for a given recipe and sweet isn’t cutting it.

Parsley: I prefer flat Italian parsley to the curly kind. I think it’s a texture thing. Flat parsley also seems to me to have a milder flavor.

Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper (purchased in a small plastic grinder); I also have a grinder for white peppercorns for recipes that may be a bit lighter in color. {black peppercorns in grinders are widely available; I purchased the white peppercorns and a refillable grinder at a local spice store}

Salt: Kosher salt. I used a big box of Morton’s for a while, but am working my way through a carton of David’s brand, which is easier to hold, and for what it’s worth, the flakes are bigger. {Morton’s is widely available; David’s brand found at Whole Foods}

Vanilla: I have a small glass bottle that I purchased with 2 vanilla beans inside. It was sealed with yellow wax. The instructions said to split the beans and fill the bottle with vodka or rum, and not to shake it. It further instructed to just keep refilling the bottle with alcohol and you would have ever-lasting vanilla. I have had that bottle for about 13 years – I just keep topping it off with good-quality vodka, and I sneak another vanilla bean in every few years. {Bottle purchased at the gift shop of the Shenandoah Valley, but you can find them online or make your own}

Water: Smart Water. Can’t get enough of it. {for drinking, not cooking, silly}

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