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The California Cook: The well-stocked pantry

The California Cook: The well-stocked pantry
Los Angeles Times Food Editor Russ Parsons (left), in his garden with Carter Calhoun (right) and his fiancee Meghan Garvey (middle) at Parsons' Long Beach home picking ingredients. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

While most experienced cooks can agree — more or less — on basic equipment, the pantry is much more a matter of individual choice. How you cook will determine what you cook, in this case. If you prefer Italian, you're going to want a greater variety of dried pastas and at least a couple of olive oils. If you cook Japanese, you'll be choosier about rice and different kinds of soy sauce. This is my highly personal list of the things I need in my basic pantry.

Baking

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All-purpose flour

Granulated sugar

Light brown sugar

Powdered sugar

Baking soda

Baking powder

Cornmeal

Spice cabinet

Dried thyme

Dried oregano

Black peppercorns

Vanilla extract

Ground cinnamon

Cloves

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Bay leaves

Dried red pepper flakes

Cumin

Fennel seeds

Kosher salt

Almonds

Walnuts

Pantry staples

Olive oil

Vegetable oil

Soy sauce

Vinegars, at least red wine and sherry

Canned beans (white, pinto, garbanzo)

Dried beans (lentils, split peas)

Canned chicken stock

Cornstarch

Raisins

Dried pasta (spaghetti and penne, at least)

Long-grain rice

Canned tomatoes

Produce pantry

Garlic

Brown onions

Lemons

In the fridge

Dijon mustard

Butter

Parmesan

Yeast

Eggs

Mayonnaise (Best Foods)

Yogurt

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