One of the things that I love most is opening my spice cupboard and seeing an array of wonderful spices that mean I can throw together some Sri Lankan, Chinese or Thai food easily from scratch. I struggle with pre made sauces for Asian food as they are never quite right and invariably I end up disappointed. And of course those sudden baking urges which grab you in the middle of a perfectly good afternoon or early evening when you simply have to make scones or cupcakes. Without flour, eggs, sugar and butter it would all end in tears and my poor husband having to cope with the fall out (it’s not pretty I can assure you).
About once every couple of months I will schedule a trip to the Korean or Chinese supermarkets and stock up on essentials like good soy sauce, rice wine, shrimp paste, chilli bean paste, fermented black beans etc. I find that I can get just wander round these places for hours examining all the wonderful and unusual ingredients even though I used to find these supermarkets very daunting until my husband bought me The Food of China cookbook which I had become obsessed with after visiting a foodie friend who recommended this book to me as she had it also.
I now cannot bear to be without a well stocked store cupboard of essential spices, oils, baking ingredients on top of the usual perishables onions, garlic, ginger, veg, eggs and cold stuff – which always includes butter and lashing of cheese! To anyone that scoffs at me for mentioning butter can I just say that it’s not like you sit and eat a pack of butter every day (although if I had my way I would), all things in moderation. But there really is nothing like the flavour that butter imparts to a dish, and whilst you can replace many things with healthy alternatives I would never replace butter. I have low-fat spreads for spreading – at the moment in fact I think I have the Yum olive oil spread which actually tastes of nothing and is a bit pointless, but for cooking it has to be butter, unsalted or salted but always butter. I watched that film Julia and Julie (or is it Julie and Julia?), what a great film you should watch it if only to fall in love with butter 🙂