Only 15 ingredients week-in, week-out
Okay, here's the question: Imagine that as a cook (and eater) you are limited to 15 ingredients, week-in and week-out, year after year, and for the rest of your life. What 15 ingredient would you choose? (By the way, forgive me if this has been the topic of a previous discussion board, but I couldn't find it.) By the way, this is not 15 ingredients plus fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry and fish! This is 15 ingredients TOTAL - so obviously a limited diet is implied. Water is free...
For me: brown rice, eggs, flour, sugar, pepper, salt, navy beans, garlic, almonds, milk, parmesan, chicken, kale, broccoli, red onion (I guess...)
In college I once lived for several months on
2, white bread (5 loaves for a buck at the bakery outlet shop)
4 winter squash (from the farm stand, also 5 for a buck)
8 Italian seasoning
Not a diet I would recommend to anyone, however I think the squash (baked with butter and sugar) kept me from complete nutritional collapse.
Given my allergies to gluten, dairy, casein, yeast/mold/fermented foods, it's probably easier for me... and this is assuming I'm not worried about getting my FDA recommended levels, and based purely on taste...
8. Bragg's Amino Acids
9. Lemon Juice
10. Green Beans
I use veggie broth on so many things, and I can make it from my other ingredients! Yay!
Lemons, Rice, flour, tomatoes, butter, chicken, okra, lettuce, mushrooms, milk, garlic, salt, eggs, yellow lentils, olive oil.
I love pasta but I figured with eggs and flour I could make my own.
Butter and flour is good for pastry, along wtih milk or water.
Butter, flour and milk is good for cream sauces
I could use the lemons and milk to make a farmers type cheese. Lemons too for salad and I don't think I could live without them anyway!
Mushrooms are very versatile as a side dish, or made into a soup with the milk and flour or for stock with the chicken.
Rice is my staple. Eggs are just good to have on hand for a number of reasons.
Tomatoes are extremely important to me, for stews which is a staple to go with the rice.
Could do without the oil really if I made clarified butter from the butter. If so I'd probably replace that with another veggie like spinach. If I could take whole milk and learn how to make butter, yogurt and other stuff out of it and have live chickens and animals then that helps a lot too in giving me more ingredients to choose.
Answering spontaneously, I would say...
1. Lemons, 2. Apples, 3. Bacon, 4. Chicken, 5. Eggs, 6. Milk, 7. Butter, 8. Flour, 9. Potatoes, 10. Onions, 11. Garlic, 12. Brussel Sprouts, 13. Beets, 14. Corn, 15. Cheese
But on second thought...(without overthinking it)
1. Fish, 2. Whole Chicken, 3. Potatoes, 4. Cheese, 5. Bacon, 6. Onions, 7. Lemon, 8. Eggs, 9. Corn, 10. Flour, 11. Brussel Sprouts, 12. Milk, 13. Peanuts, 14. Honey, 15. Rice
Sorry, I'm extra cantankerous since I find out that even avoiding greens we've had to increase my blood thinner med again (been on it two months and still haven't gotten it stable enough to reduce the need for blood draws, which I continue to find traumatic, to every two weeks) and can't figure out why. The longer my levels are unstable the more likely I'll have to be on it for 6 months instead of 3. :-(
That would make choosing ingredients easier if things like salsa counted as one ingredient...
6. whole (laying) fowl-- i actually think duck would edge out chicken. egg bonus!
8. whole raw milk, or i'd take a dairy cow, if this is permitted.
11. wild rice
15. snap peas--so if salt counts as an ingredient i have to give up the snap peas. bugger.
re: c oliver
I think it would be very challenging and I might give it a try for a week or two this winter. I don't think I could make the sacrifice right now with all the fresh local produce available. I think after Thanksgiving would be a good time to give it a try. I really need to think about putting together a list though.
I'm not much of a baker either and I would be lost without my bread making machine or local bakery.
It's also about time, isn't it? I mean, clearly if you were going to try it for two weeks, the live cow/raw milk, make my own cheese and butter route just isn't going to be practical. If you have a bread making or pasta making machines, that makes those jobs easier, but I have neither.
It's not hard to make fresh peanut butter from peanuts (pain to clean the food processor, though!), but pressing my own peanut oil? Making my own apple cider/juice/butter? Lots of time and equipment that I doubt most of us have, and all of them take time that most of us don't have either.
But I like the idea. Maybe we should start a new thread - "15 days, 15 ingredients - Go!". I know my list for sure would change.
Like you, I don't stray very far from my regular routine. 5 days a week, it's cream of wheat or oatmeal for breakfast. Lunch is usually a salad or slice of pizza, and dinner is usually chicken, rice, and veggie of some sort.
It's when my kid comes over or I'm traveling when I eat out most of the time.
This is sooo hard. I think my brain hurts now, but here it is. I don't think I could really do it though...
1. Black Beans
3. Chicken, and everything that comes with it (I need my eggs)
5. hot peppers
7.Tomatoes (will make my own paste, fresh marinara sauce and salsa)
8. Yeast (for bread and beer)
9. Wheat (would make my own bread, tortilla shells, and beer)
10. Avocados (gonna learn to make my own oil form it)
And if I was to pick 6 more:
1. The whole cow (would make use of the milk for making my own yogurt, sour cream, cheese, and butter, and it would be my coffee creamer)
6.Onions (sweet maui I guess)
That's an interesting concept - I wonder if livestock fits in with the rules of the game? And, you'd need a rooster with your hen, a bull with your cow, and a boar with your sow. Or, is artificial insemination allowed? If it is, I would change my list:
1 - Cow - milk, cheese, butter, etc., plus all cuts of beef - steaks, roasts, etc.
2 - Sow - As the Chinese say "Everything but the tail"
3 - Hen - As you note, eggs, and all the chicken parts
4 - Salt
5 - Pepper
6 - Apples (to eat alone, juice, cider, cider vinegar, apple sauce, apple butter, and with entrees)
7 - Onions
8 - Flour
9 - Yeast
10 - Tomatoes
11 - Brown sugar
12 - Peanuts (PB, peanut oil, snacks)
13 - Spinach
14 - A spice - after twenty minutes, couldn't choose between cinnamon, basil, or garlic
15 - A fruit - again, after long deliberation, couldn't choose between a citrus (lemon? orange? lime?) or grapes (to eat alone, jam/jelly, and maybe even wine?)
What's amazed me about this exercise is how much more variety you can get in your diet from a few ingredients the closer you get to the food source. Of course, this list would require you have a small farm, and an enormous refrigerator and pantry.
""how much more variety you can get in your diet from a few ingredients the closer you get to the food source"'
frank, i've been thinking the same thing since this thread came up. your idea of going to grapes instead of just listing wine is a stroke of brilliance -- even though we've all been taking *other* products back to their "source."
btw, i'm working on my list, and it has peanuts, too! and spinach. and i, too, was deliberating about *which* citrus fruit to choose. with an orange i can get juice, desserts, and a "tart" flavoring for soups, marinades, etc. but nothing really takes the place of lime. i guess i could add vinegar (made from my wine) to the orange....
yes, this thread is very thought-provoking. job well done, lifespan!
re: c oliver
Reminds me of the old joke:
Traveling salesman passes a farm house. He sees a pig with a wooden leg. He says to the farmer, "What's with the wooden leg?" Farmer says, "Well, that's a very special pig." A few months back our house caught fire, the pig came and woke us up and saved my whole family.
So, the salesman says, "But why the wooden leg?" "Well, hold on," the farmer says. "My little girl was playing in the road and one of those logging trucks lost his breaks and the pig ran up and dragged her to safety." "Well, that's amazing," says the salesman. "But why the wooden leg?"
"Well, says the farmer, you don't eat a pig like that all at once."
re: c oliver
Yep, that's why I mentioned the "insemination" part; if the cows aren't pregnant, no milk. But if they are, you get a calf which you can use for veal, or let it grow for a couple of years for full-fledged beef. And that repeats every year (and you have to eat a *lot* of beef to eat an entire steer in a year!). Same thing with the pig - you keep the sow, and when it litters, you get to enjoy roast suckling pig, and raise the others for lots of pork choices.
OK, you got me. =) I am going to have to talk my hubby into including the mates to my animals so they can keep breeding. ;) I also had to choose between if I wanted wine or beer and went with beer since I could also make bread with those ingredients. I do so love wine though, so maybe I will move next to your farm and we can trade, I'll trade you something for your wine. ;)
This was really tough, and no matter how hard I try, I cannot get down to 15. No way.
This is as close as I got (with the benefit of other CH's lists to guide me):
Pork Loins (Yields chops, ground pork, sausage, bacon)
Beef Chuck Roasts (yields braised beef and burger meat)
And I don't have room for: Apples, Oranges, Bananas, Vinegar(!), Fresh Corn(!), Beans, Cucumbers, Canned Tomatoes (for Pizza -- HOW would I live without Pizza? Oregano and Basil didn't make the cut, either), Thyme, Rosemary, Paprika, GINGER, Rice, Maple Syrup, Blueberries, Almonds, Cashews, Lamb, Shrimp, Lemons, Cinnamon, CHOCOLATE?
I have a feeling I'd be engaged in Seasonal and/or incessant mourning for the Missing...
O.K I'll play....
2. olive oil
12.white cannelli bean
Now my Husband wants to know if he can play....pick another 15 items and we'll be all set !!!
Here's hoping a Divorce would not ensue...and the battle over ingredients in the split...Now that could get ugly.
This was a fun discussion for us over dinner prep last night...(The ingredients.....not a Divorce)
I'm too lazy to go back and count but there seem to be a lot of vegetarians participating here. Do you think the demographic here represents the overall CH demo? It seems to me that there are loads of carnivores on CH. Do they not consider this thread interesting?
3. arugula (I can live without other greens!)
5. olive oil
12. pepper (is salt a rock not a food?)
I really need a few more but will obey the rules :)
re: c oliver
I see only 3 with vegetarian lists (whipppet, anakalia, enbell) and one vegan (me) out of about 24, which is indeed a higher percentage than the general population. Soypower didn't say whether the kimchee includes fish (most/many do) so wasn't included in the veg count. Some here may be flexatarians. Several pescatarian lists. I wonder what percentage of chowhounds are vegetarian/vegan...
re: c oliver
re: c oliver
The versatility of pork is without question....
It's difficult for me, more-or-less a native North Carolinian, to separate the culinary necessity of pork from my personal love affair with pork. Growing up, we consumed pork, in one form or another, five or six times each week. (Ours would not have been an unusual eating pattern in our neck of the woods.) By comparison, beef - even steak - seemed second-best.
Having said that, still, I am not convinced of the indespensability of pork...
I can't do 15 without excluding salt and pepper!
7. Melon (can't choose one!)
Oh no! I left out grits and turnip greens. And pork. Pasta!! --help
1. Olive oil
11. Plain Greek yogurt
12. Chicken (whole, so I can make stock, too)
13. Brown rice
15. Soy sauce
This was really hard. I was willing to give up butter for apples. That was surprising. Since this was about eating, I didn't put in my alcohol choices. I could limit that to two: gin and wine. If I had to sacrifice something on the 15 list for them, I'd probably give up milk and potato.
On the salt topic, I need it. I have freakishly low blood pressure. Medication could solve that problem but my doctor doesn't like the idea. I'm (happily) under strict doctor's orders to have as much salt as I like and then some. Several people in my family have the same requirement.
I'm not counting salt & pepper. Gotta draw the line somewhere.
1 - eggs
2 - goat cheese
3 - cornmeal
4 - bread
5 - tomatoes
6 - butter
7 - spinach (figuring it works as salad or a veggie)
8 - I'm tempted to cheat and say aliums, but I think I'll go with shallots.
9 - chicken
10 - pasta (not sure what shape, though)
11 - flour
12 - sugar
13 - peanut butter
14 - apples
15 - baking soda (because then you can have cookies)
I can see some nice potential in this list - from souffles to chicken noodle soup.
Why would you have pasta on this list when you already have eggs and flour? Lifespan said nothing about the MACHINES you can have, so you can (if you put salt back on your list) make any shape you like, and with the spinach and tomatoes, you can even make flavoured, coloured pastas.
Similarly, if you change the baking soda to yeast, then you can drop bread from your list, as you can make it yourself. This allows you to add pork loins, which you can prepare all kinds of ways, depending on how you cut it, from a cured and smoked "bacon" to pork tenderloins stuffed with apples to pork chops. I mean, I LOVE chicken but only eating that for protein every day?
And, as someone else pointed out, if you change out the goat cheese to raw milk, you can make cheese, butter, and have milk to drink. Finally, if you change out the peanut butter to plain peanuts, you can make your PB and have roasted or boiled peanuts for a snack. So that makes my list:
2 Raw Milk
6 Onions (I actually like Bermudas best)
8 Pork Loins
9 Brown sugar
15 Balsamic vinegar
Just for fun, I started thinking what a couple days worth of menus would like (assume you have a choice of milk, apple juice, apple cider, tomato juice and water at all meals) :
Breakfast, day 1:
Some of my quasi-bacon with eggs
Toast from my freshly made bread with my homemade butter
Croque Monsieur - fried sandwich of pork and homemade cheese dipped in egg
Homemade ketchup (tomato, salt, vinegar, diced onion - blander than I'm used to, but still..)
Salad of chopped spinach, cheese, onion, and tomato
Roast chicken stuffed with apples, and served with an apple glaze
Onions roasted with balsamic vinegar
Bread and butter
Dutch apple pancake (you can make these without baking powder - they don't puff up as much)
Caramel sauce from heavy cream, sugar, butter
Pork rillettes if you're hungry
Peanut butter with apple butter sandwich
Caprese style salad of tomato, cheese, and spinach leaves with balsamic vinegar
Country style ribs from the pork loin, marinated in juice, and glazed with brown sugar
Onion rings fried in peanut oil pressed from our peanuts
Peanut butter ice cream with caramel sauce
That's only two days, of course, and I think I would end up not eating very much after a month or so. If Lifespan would relent, and allow us five extra spices in addition to salt and pepper, the possibilities become very much interesting. I'd add ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, basil, and oregano. Ginger glazed chicken, a nice tomato sauce with pasta, cinnamon apple sauce to go with pork chops - it's amazing how having a few teaspoons of these little powders give you so much more variety.
I'll concede the peanuts vs. peanut butter, but I'd much rather have baking soda for cookies & cake and buy my bread (at least in the summer - it's too hot to bake bread in my house in the summer). And yes, if I have to count salt, then I'd give up the prepared pasta (but I do generally prefer dried pasta than fresh, personally).
Why would you need yeast? Sourdough is very easy to start, at least it has been for me with organic wheat berries? I did this for over a year until I finally found one type of Red Star yeast that doesn't have corn fillers added to it. Also consider if you have wheat berries, they can be sprouted to increase their sweetness & protein, or even grown into wheatgrass. I have a recipe in one of my cookbooks for making rice syrup out of rice, water & wheat sprouts.
I'd also recommend almonds instead of peanuts- much more versatile, including making almond flour for baking. Your apples could give you Apple Cider Vinegar. I'd say the whole pig/pork, not just the loin- you need a source of fat to cook with & what it better then lard? And if we can change 'chicken', to live chickens, they you have your eggs & chicken in one.
I haven't sat down & listed out my 15 ingredients, but I think I'd do pretty well. Being allergic to corn and all its derivatives & living in the US, I pretty much have to make everything I eat from scratch- from the most whole, raw forms possible. Something has more then 3-4 ingredients, it goes back on the shelf.
Sourdough is OK for many types of bread, BUT is more variable with highly variable climates (like we have in New England) and the measurability and reliability of cultivated yeast has utility over a wider array of uses. That's why it's on my list. I use sourdoughs, but there's a very good reason they went into decline with the advent of cultivated yeasts; anyone who's had to depend on sourdoughs with no alternative eventually understands why.
re: Karl S
I understand the highly variable climates, living in Michigan- and always on the western side of the lower peninsula, anywhere from 15 miles inland from Lake Michigan to 60 miles. Sourdough can be easier to work with then most people think, if that is truly all they have to rely. Sure its easier to grab a package of commercial yeast, if you can, but if that is not an option, you learn really fast to work with your sourdough culture and how to cultivate it. Even now that I found I can use Red Star, in the 3 strip pack that is labeled 'cereal free', I still use my sourdough most of the time. Some of it comes down to cost- buying yeast in those 3 strip packs is not the most cost effective way, but its the only safe version I can get. The other is taste preference- sourdough just taste better.
The taste of your sourdough will vary. It's not always pleasant in all uses. I like it in sourdough pancakes, but not in yeast-raised waffles.
Btw, if you buy SAF yeast in the large package and keep it in the freezer, you can use it indefinitely. Very cost effective, probably more cost effective over time than having a starter and sponge fail, as they invariably do from time to time.
re: Karl S
Buying yeast in a larger size is not an option for me, with my severe corn allergy. The problem is that as soon as Red Star puts their regular yeast in any larger package, they add sorbitan monostearate, ascorbic acid & other ingredients to help keep the yeast dry & flowing- all corn derived ingredients. Other yeast companies do the same, but even worse, their yeast can be grown on corn sugar, or corn maltodextrin can be used in the yeast drying process. Check the label on yeast the next time you're at the grocery store.
For a long time, there wasn't a readily available, safe yeast for those of us with severe corn allergies in the US. When you don't have an option of making regular yeast bread, let alone buying a safe bread, you get very good at developing your sourdough skills. Or you go hungry. Or make a lot of soda bread. I only recently let my starter go, with the plan to start up a new one as soon as I get fresh wheat berries from a local organic farm. In the mean time, I'm doing a lot of minimal yeast+sourdough-light type techniques, primarily because I now prefer sourdough flavor over a too yeasty bread.
2. Ginger Haagen Daz Five
3. Ginger Haagen Daz Five
4. Ginger Haagen Daz Five
5. Ginger Haagen Daz Five
6. Ginger Haagen Daz Five
9. Corn on the cob
1. All-purpose hard wheat flour (assuming I have to be specific about one type): for making bread and pastes (pasta and noodles) and other things
2. Active Dry or Instant Yeast (I am not relying entirely on wild yeasts in a continental climate)
3. Sea salt [to me, this is not an ingredient as such because like water it is not derived from a carbon life-form, so I will give myself the choice of 15 other ingredients]
4. Whole unhomogenized goat’s or cow’s milk (from which other dairy products would be derived), slow-pasteurized or raw
5. Chicken eggs
6. Yukon-Gold type potatoes (again, assuming I have to be specific about a type)
7. Grey French shallots (ditto)
8. German or Alsatian Riesling wine (the most versatile wine in my book)
9. Extra virgin olive oil
10. Savoy cabbage
11. Black pepper
12. A Phaseolus vulgaris species TBD that is good both fresh and dried
13. SunCrisp Apples (a newish hybrid, better than HoneyCrisps, keeps so well I had a good one in the fridge in early June that was picked in October) (also for making cider and vinegar)
14. Minneola tangelos
15. Superfine cane sugar
16. San Marzano tomatoes
This omits important things like greens (other than the outer leaves of cabbage), herbs and non-pepper spices, flesh (no bacon!) and baking soda (which is very very useful) before even getting into nice things.
Btw, in terms of vegetable kingdom crops, these are the 40 most important crops by weight in terms of megatons of production (at least as of a few years ago, including the primary form of use of the crop):
1215 sugar cane sweetener
586 corn cereal/sweetener
580 wheat cereal
564 rice cereal
297 potatoes tuber
264 sugar beet sweetener
165 cassava tuber
152 barley cereal/beer
139 sweet potato tuber
135 soybean legume/oil
90 citrus fruits fruit
88 tomato fruit
85 banana/plantain fruit
58 grape fruit/wine
57 cottonseed oil
54 sorghum cereal
54 apple fruit
49 cabbage vegetable
48 coconut nut/oil
38 onion vegetable
34 rapeseed oil
32 yam tuber
30 peanut legume/nut/oil
30 oats cereal
28 millet cereal
26 cucumbers fruit
25 sunflower seed oil
23 rye cereal
23 beans & peas legume
19 mango fruit
18 carrots vegetable
17 melons fruit
17 palm kernel oil
16 eggplant fruit
16 chillies fruit
14 pumpkins fruit
13 olive oil
13 pears fruit
13 cauliflower vegetable
11 garlic vegetable
ok this is gonna be tough.... I'm one of those 20 different ingredients in a meal people.....
3. baby spinach
4. vidalia onions
5. garbonzo beans
8. neon chard
12. greek yogurt
and yes i know 15 is cheating a bit.... but would a fishing pole and a worm have been a better answer??
damn this was hard
3. crushed red pepper
7. ground turkey
8. string beans
9. pasta (angel hair if we're being specific)
12. soy sauce
14. fish or shrimp
15. balsamic vinegar
Wow that was hard...I'm giving myself five more :)
16. mixed salad greens
- adobo (spice mix... this isn't cheating, is it? Parmesan also contains component ingredients)
- garlic (with scapes)
- whole milk (from which I, Swiss Family Robinson-like, would make my own butter, yogurt, cheese -- esp. raw milk tarentaise and cow's milk mozzarella)
- yellowfin tuna
- masa harina
- rice wine vinegar, pre-seasoned for sushi
- coffee or nori -- it's a tossup... or both if yellowfin and trout get to count as "fish"
What a depressing thought! I normally use about 15 ingredients per meal! But, since it's all hypothetical and in the name of carrying out an experiment, here's my go:
1. Natural Yogurt
5. Brown rice
11. Olive oil
14. Spices (does it have to be one???)
when your making curry and the recipe calls for garam masala the say garam masala not list each spice
2. chicken breast
4. olive oil
5. spepper (its a now product you can look it up)
14. romaine lettuce
as you can tell with this i can make breads beer salads lasanga pizza and alot of other stuff including a peppered bacon made out of beef
We're vegan and I'm gluten-free and currently low vitamin K (so no greens, broccoli, asparagus, etc :-( so not interested in further restriction, even as a mental exercise. I did, however, about a year of very (self-)limited diet years ago. I ate millet or brown rice, green peas and an avocado or two nearly every night for supper. Breakfast was usually a smoothie of banana and one other fruit (blackberries or strawberries usually) and lunch was usually a red bell pepper and some nuts (often pistachios), or dried papaya or dried pineapple. I think this was also the phase when I was eating lots of dates and probably using kelp. That's 13 but I've probably forgotten a couple. I still like all these ingredients but currently have a lot more variety even as a GF vegan who is temporarily (I hope!) green-free. We probably use 15 or more ingredients in homemade GF vegan pizza...
Of your 15 we couldn't go long without the brown rice, garlic, (kale, broccoli except under medical necessity, and that's not easy), onion, and almond (mylk). We use lots more black beans and garbanzos then navy beans and already do or easily could do without the others.
i'm with lgss. while my dietary restrictions aren't as severe as hers, i've already had to give up enough to abhor the idea of having to consider further limitations! as others have stated, i easily use at least 15 ingredients for most dinners. heck, my breakfast typically has at least 6 or 7!