For me, if I had to choose between sweet and savory, I'd always go with savory. But every pantry needs a stash of sweet stuff for baking and so forth--especially at this time of year.
- Maple Syrup: Coombs Farm--Well, French toast is a family favorite, and this syrup really tastes full of maple. It's also yummy on plain yogurt, ice cream (it's the essential ingredient in a maple creamie), and--let's not forget--pancakes, which are the required sleepover morning-after breakfast.
- Chocolate Chips: Sunspire--For chocolate chip cookies, mainly. But also for emergency chocolate cravings.
- Sugars and Honey--I like Woodstock Farms sugars (regular, brown, powdered, turbinado). And honey is good for coughs, as well.
- Nuts--Nuts are good for so many things, sweet and savory. Walnuts, almonds, and pine nuts, especially. I love walnuts on my yogurt in the morning, toasted almonds on cooked veggies, and toasted pine nuts in salads. Pine nuts are essential for pesto, too. But of course, nuts are good for sweets. Pecans...yum!
- Molasses--A wholesome sweetener, organic molasses is darker and stronger than other molasses, but it's so good in cakes and cookies, on bread, and, especially, on plain donuts.
- Flour: Rodale Institute White and Whole Wheat, or King Arthur's White Whole Wheat--White flour is still essential for things like gravy and fried chicken and cakes. But I use whole wheat for everything else, including pancakes, cookies, and muffins.
- Ice Cream Cones: Let"s Do Organic- OK, they're not necessary, but they are yummy, and they make a small snack of ice cream easy, without any dishes to do!
- Dried Fruits: Whether it's raisins, cranberries, or dried pineapple (I love any dried fruit by Kopali), dried fruits are good for baking, cooking, snacking, or putting on top of cereal.
- Baking chocolate: Green and Black--For chocolate cake, of course!
- Jams and Marmalades: Cascadian Farms and Frog Hollow--Once, a very long time ago, when I was sailing on a wooden boat in the Caribbean, after a long great day in the sun, I was served "tea," and it was good English tea with warm pancakes and jam. I will NEVER FORGET that moment and that taste. And I also will never forget tasting Frog Hollow Meyer Lemon Marmalade after visiting the San Francisco Farmers Market. Marmalade is essential for my ham glaze also, but it's also just good on hot buttered whole wheat toast.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.