In the Pantry

The secret to a well-stocked pantry is to keep small quantities of a large number of basic ingredients. Discover pantry essentials at TwiceasTasty.com.At 500 square feet, my house has a smaller kitchen and less food-storage space than most. Yet at any given moment, I can conjure a dozen of meals for a dozen people—I just need to find places for them to sit.

The secret to a well-stocked pantry is to keep small quantities of a large number of basic ingredients. Instead of buying prepackaged meals, sauces, and mixes, you can store fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, proteins, and flavorings individually and mix them in endless variations. I dedicate at least half my pantry and most of my freezer and fridge space to such items. I fill the rest with homemade items that let me shortcut regularly used recipes, from stocks to pestos to condiments.

The advantages go beyond versatility. Stocking your pantry in this manner means your ingredients stay fresh, you can spend your money on quality items instead of large quantities that go stale before you finish them, and you’ll always open the fridge or cupboard and find something you want to eat.
Read more about improving your pantry

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Fermented Cucumbers

I’ve loved cucumber pickles since I was a kid. Fermentation takes them to a new level. Get fermented vegetable recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I’ve loved pickles since I was a kid. My mom put dozens of jars of dill and “sweet” (bread-and-butter) pickles through a water bath every year, and I’d sneak them like they were potato chips. But the longer the pickles sat, the less chip-like crunch they gave. Over the years, I’ve played with ingredients and canning techniques that have helped. Then I discovered fermentation.

Think about it: Cucumbers are best fresh and raw. Putting them in hot water is bound to affect their texture. Fermentation replaces heat with time and vinegar with salt. No wonder the result is crisper and fresher. And the flavoring possibilities—from dill to tea—are endless.

If you’ve never run a fermentation, I suggest you check out my introductory post from earlier this month. But here are the basics: Start with everything clean and fresh. Monitor the batch daily so that you can see the process. If you have doubts, give it the toss and start again.
Learn to make Fermented Dill Pickles and Fermented Tea Pickles

Quick Ferments

When vegetables are sliced or pureed before fermentation, it’s easy to use them straight from the jar. Get veggie ferment recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
If you’re new to vegetable fermentation, you likely look at recipes and think, “Can it be that easy?” This instantly leads to the terrifying thought, “It can’t; surely I’ll get it wrong.” So to kick off this month’s recipes for vegetable ferments, I offer my most foolproof recipe for your first foray into fermentation. Here, the carrots actually aren’t fully fermented; they sit barely long enough to kick off the process. Still, they use a lot of the techniques that apply to full fermentation of other vegetables: salting, weighting to encourage the carrots to release even liquid, and a rest period to pull even more water and sugars from the produce. Because these carrots are prepared as thin ribbons, it’s easy to open the jar and slide a few onto a sandwich, into a sourdough pita, or straight into your mouth. The recipe is so simple that while you’re at it, you might as well prepare your own horseradish to go in the jar—especially if you’re growing it.
Learn to make Barely Fermented Carrots and Horseradish Paste

Grilled Tomatoes

I grill a lot of vegetables, from asparagus to tomatillos, but I probably spend the most time grilling tomatoes. Not only are they delicious on a skewer with other vegetables for dinner, but they’re also fabulous when pulled off the canning shelf or from the freezer. And the process for grilling large tomatoes is easy: slice them in half, sear them cut side down on a hot grill for a couple of minutes, and then flip and cook a few more minutes until soft.

Those of us with large gardens quickly come up with enough grilled tomato batches for canner loads of salsa, Bloody Mary mix, and pasta sauce. But in recent years, I’ve been running a small batch to freeze in cubes—the perfect size to drop into a soup, spread on a pizza crust, or simply dip into with mozzarella-stuffed breadsticks.
Learn to make Grilled Tomato Pizza Sauce and Stuffed and Grilled Breadsticks