Wednesday, April 14, 2010


When I was 13, I had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland for three weeks with my aunt and uncle and four cousins (all under the age of 7 at the time). This trip really sparked my interest in traveling, and while I did help out with my cousins, my aunt and uncle made sure I had lots of opportunities to see the region where we stayed.

Anyway, my uncle is from Holland, and the trip was a vacation and an opportunity to see his family. For most of the time we were there, we stayed in a mountain house near his brother’s family.

Before we left, my mom spent a lot of time talking to my aunt and getting as many details as possible. After one conversation, my mom started talking about how my aunt was worried about the first day and not having staples at the house. My mom continued talking, and I sat there, completely confused about why staples were so important to have. This was before Sept. 11, so surely my aunt could carry on this box of staples she needed.

Well, I finally asked my mom to explain this to me, and she informed me that staples in this sense meant the basic food essentials — bread, milk, cereal, etc. (At 13, I should have known this term, but this tells you how much I distanced myself from the kitchen as a kid.)

Of course, my uncle’s family was well prepared, and staples were provided.

But years later, I remembered my confusion over staples when I was in my new kitchen and kept going to the cabinet looking for things that should be in every kitchen that weren’t in mine. I realized that you really do have to buy things like flour, sugar, salt, pepper and all those spices that just exist in my mom’s kitchen. I dragged my feet on spending my grocery money on many of these kitchen essentials, only buying them when I needed them for a recipe. I even managed to go months without ketchup, and I was the kid that doused everything in ketchup.

I got a spice rack for Christmas one year, and at some point I had cooked enough that I usually found what I needed in my kitchen cabinets but it took a while to reach that point.

And then I moved and it was like starting over. I had the spice rack, and I was no longer afraid of buying the big container of vegetable oil or flour but it is still starting with an empty kitchen, in need of some staples.

Now as I get closer to getting my first share (next week!), I am trying to think about what I need to have in my kitchen to turn my share into a meal without a lot of trips to the grocery store. 

What are the staples you always have on hand?

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