Thursday, January 21, 2010

What Makes a Great Cook?

So often I hear TV chefs and cooks go on about making a great meal using the "freshest ingredients", or, "the best you can afford". To me, a great cook should be able to produce a tasty meal with nothing more than limp celery, old cabbage, some freezer-burned mince and some spices.

I'd love to be able to nip down to the Fresh Produce Market, pick up a few fresh scallops, some coriander,fresh beans sprouts and a couple of limes for a light quick entrée. But, realistically, I have to make do with vegetables and meat that comes in to our local store once a week.

I have a wonderful freezer that I make good use of. It's full of marinated chicken, lamb and steak as well as frozen mango cheeks, strawberry puree, raspberry coulis and diced watermelon. I freeze a lot of fruit to use in pies or for sorbets. My freezer also has a good supply of fish and prawns that I've purchased already frozen. I always have frozen veges on hand too, as the store may run out of green veges and they rarely get beans in unless I order them.

So, I reckon I can prepare a great meal without having the "freshest ingredients", direct from the grower or straight off the boat. It's all about planning ahead. Whenever I'm in Perth, I always bring home fresh fish and seasonal vegetables and fruit.

My pantry... man, I could live off my pantry for several months and never have to shop!

Pantry Left

Pantry Centre

Pantry Right

If I want to cook bread, biscuits, cakes, a curry, a tagine, a risotto, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Greek or Malaysian I have everything I need. All the spices, oils, beans, nuts, grains, flours, dried fruits and specialty ingredients I need.

My worst nightmare is deciding that I'm going to make something delicious for tea and find that I don't have the right ingredients. I know that necessity is the mother of invention, and I've certainly had to substitute from time to time, but I love to have all ingredients at hand.


  1. LOL - just looking at the mess in my pantry this morning and thought -it desperately needs sorting. MrsT just puts the containers back without regard for my scheme of where things go. But can't discourage her - so a day cleaning every now and then.

    It did look as clean as yours once ( or a few times - but only for a couple of days).

    Bought some larger containers last week to put larger bags in too - so a chore for the weekend.

  2. i know exactly what you mean!!!!!!!! i'm with you 100%, i don't understand people who only have in their pantry what's on their menu plan for that week!

  3. My pantry isn't quite as tidy as when that photo was taken!!