Up until last week, I was living in a tiny studio apartment with virtually no kitchen: two electric burners, a toaster oven, a dorm-size refrigerator and no pantry space. So to say I was limited in my cooking would be an understatement, though I did find an odd sense of joy when I figured out how far I could stretch the limits of that kitchen (baby-back ribs was probably my best). Now that I am living in an apartment with a real kitchen, I can finally stock up my pantry so that I can always whip something up. It might be strange just how excited that makes me, but I've been dreaming of a pantry (and an oven) for so long! Here are the basics I like to keep on hand at all times:

- anchovies packed in oil
- capers
- vinegars (red wine, sherry, apple cider, rice)
- oils (extra-virgin olive, canola, sesame)
- soy sauce
- fish sauce
- canned beans (Cento-brand chickpeas are my favorite)
- tomato paste, puree and whole tomatoes
- Italian tuna packed in olive oil
- pasta (a few different shapes, but gemelli is my favorite)
- nuts (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts-I actually keep these in the freezer but still consider them a pantry staple)
- dried fruit (cherries and golden raisins)
- all-purpose flour
- sugar (granulated, powdered, light and dark brown)
- rice (arborio, basmati)
- red pepper flakes
- low-sodium organic chicken broth (Pacific brand)
- semisweet and bittersweet chocolate (a few bars for baking)