Ahoy, mateys! Welcome to One Baroque Girl, a blog solely devoted to helping you to prosper in the kitchen while spending as little money as possible. That said, it is my intention to provide you with recipes that are at once simple and altogether mouthwatering, helping you to add a healthy dose of fancy to your everyday cooking. It is my belief that just because one can’t afford to purchase all of one’s cookware from Williams-Sonoma (though I sincerely wish I could) and all of one’s ingredients from the hippest, upscale grocers, that doesn’t mean that one’s can’t still prepare dishes and meals that have prominent hints of refinement and outstanding taste. Please, won’t you join me on this culinary adventure?
In preparation for our aforementioned adventure, let’s make sure that we’ve got some essentials. For most everything we’ll be making here, you won’t need anything other than what you already have in your cupboards, assuming you have a few pots and pans, some flour, sugar, and a few cans of assorted vegetables, beans, and fruits in your cupboards. In the event that you don’t yet have a few pots and pans, not to worry, they can be easily acquired. A lot of retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Shopko, and Target (to up the fancy-factor, I enjoy pronouncing it “Tar-zjay” so that it rhymes with “ballet”), carry pretty complete sets of bakeware and cookware for $40-$60. Should you find yourself in need of additional chow-bearing vessels, by all means, purchase them on an as-needed basis. Why purchase a four-set of miniature spring-form pans if you have no intention of ever creating tiny cheesecakes to share with your ladyfriends at high tea? Totally unnecessary. For the sake of saving both money and space, don’t purchase what you don’t and won’t need.
This purchase-on-an-as-needed-basis philosophy often applies to ingredients, as well, though you’re more likely to have exceptions here. A few things I constantly find myself in need of: flour, sugar, eggs, frozen meat, frozen veggies, and butter, always butter. In particular, unsalted butter. I used to always think butter was soooo overrated. I was wrong. I realize the egregious error in my ways. For realsies, if you desire truly outstanding results in your baking, particularly when it comes to pie crusts, croissants, and a whole slew of pastries and French dishes, use good old-fashioned, unsalted butter. At another date and time, I am confident that we shall have a whole conversation on why butter is the most magical of all secret and not-so-secret ingredients, but until then, I implore you to trust me that butter is where it’s at. Occasionally, you can sneak in margarine or another butter substitute and obtain similar results, and I shall do my best to make a point of alerting you to these occasions, but unless otherwise noted, let’s stick with the real thing. In regards to the frozen meats and veggies, frozen is often times less expensive than fresh, so I like to keep some of these frozen foodstuffs on hand for dinner in a pinch. Same goes for frozen fruit: I frequently thaw out small cupfuls of frozen blueberries and toss them in with my yogurt and granola for filling and healthful breakfasts. More often and not, though, I’ll purchase fresh produce. It’s fresh, full of nutrients, and makes for some darned good cooking and baking.
As we sail farther and farther across the ocean to separating us from Le Cordon Bleu-quality cuisine (I’m trying to keep up the nautical theme I started with), it’s inevitable that we’ll encounter a few storms and sea monsters along the way. These oceanic foes may take many forms: failed recipes, botched adaptations, shortages on necessary ingredients, etc. Regardless of the challenges we may encounter or the qualms we may face, we shall persevere together. So, please, come sail away, come sail away, come sail away with me! Let’s get cookin’!