Ode to My Pantry: Oil

Learning to feed yourself can be one of the most terrifying things. Am I about to give myself food poisoning? If I eat this too often will I end up with scurvy? How can I get the most nutritional bang for my buck? Why does this still taste like ass?

With Ode to My Pantry, learn to navigate a grocery store without having a meltdown in aisle three. Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a queer to cook and stave off malnutrition for another semester.

OdetoOil

When it comes to Liquids that Cook Your Food, oil manages to beat out water, milk and dishwater quite easily. It carries flavour, facilitates browning and manages to make your food crispier and crunchier than you ever imagined. Could you imagine a world without potato chips? I don’t think so! But when it comes to navigating the oil aisle, which one should you be looking for? They’re all just kind of yellow and greasy right? Shouldn’t they all work the same? But if you’ve ever engulfed your kitchen with a smoke, you know that something has to be going on.

Olive

Darker green oils tend to be fruity

And their pushers tend to be snooty

The best virgin’s cold pressed

But some sellers confessed 

Cheap oils were doing olive’s duty

PEANUT

Its high smoke point makes it a beast

So it’s common in Asia’s southeast

Refined’s “allergen-free”

But do your guests agree?

So EpiPens aren’t served at your feast

Sesame

It gives your stirfry That Touch

In Asian cooking, it’s almost a crutch

It’s smoky nut flavour

Is something to savour

But it’s strong, so don’t use too much

Canola Oil

Crafted in Canadian fields

From rapeseed with low toxin yields

It’s pressed and refined

With high heat in mind

The de facto fat your deep fryer wields

Coconut

This tropical fat will replace

All the trans fats in your pantry space

Saturated oil

Takes time to spoil

You can also smear this on your face

PalmOil

It’s common in your processed food

Think of all the Samoas you chewed

But then some Girl Scouts

Raised environment doubts

New cookies mean the apes aren’t as screwed

 

Crisco aka Cottonseed Oil

Crisco aka Cottonseed Oil

It’s easy to cut a shortening shard

Since hydrogenation makes oils hard

It melts as it bakes

Forming pastry flakes

But sadly, it’s reign killed off lard

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Hailing from Vancouver, Kristen's still trying to figure out how to survive Montreal's Real Legitimate Canadian Winter. So far she's discovered that warm socks, giant toques and Tabby kittens all play a role in her survival. Her ultimate goal is to rank higher than KStew in the "Kristen + Autostraddle" Google Search competition.

Kristen has written 140 articles for us.

14 Comments

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      Depends! You can get cold-pressed coconut oil, which does taste of coconut, or refined coconut oil, which doesn’t. Refined coconut oil is IMO better for frying (though the internet jury is out on this) provided you get one that has not been refined using hexanes. KTC is an example of a good and cheap brand of refined coconut oil that you might be able to find at world food stores.

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      Corn oil’s extracted with solvents and highly refined meaning it has a really high smoke point. It’s great for deep frying and relatively neutral tasting! It completely slipped my mind! I should have written a poem about biodiesel.

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    Im all about olive oil or grape seed oil for cooking.

    I would use it for frying foods but they only come in little bottles (and those aren’t cheap).

    What kind of foods would you use peanut oil in? And does almond oil make your food taste almond-y?

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      I find peanut oil is used a lot in Chinese stirfrys. It has a high smoke point so it won’t start to smoke too badly in the wok. Alton Brown has advocated using peanut oil for deep frying turkeys.. soo I wouldn’t be surprised if your Thanksgiving bird took a walk on the legume side.

      As for almond oil, it tastes slightly almondy, but it doesn’t scream ALMOND. If you were looking for the almond flavour, try to find roasted almond oil instead. It’ll be tasty as fuck, but it won’t hold up to heat as well.

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    Wow was not expecting poetry when I clicked on this. Am very happy that my expectations were so dramatically surpassed.

    Pay attention to smoking points, friends; I used the wrong kind of oil and fucking RUINED some nice pieces of sea bass last night.

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    Another AWESOME use for coconut oil: sexpot hair!
    I like the cold pressed coconut oil at Trader Joe’s, the kind you find in the cooking oil section. You can take a bit of it, rub it between your hands to warm it up, and then run a bit through your hair. It’s SO good for your hair, and it makes it gorgeous, no matter the texture of your hair. I have wild hair, only kind of thick but there is A LOT of it, and it does wonders.

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    Sunflower oil was always my pick because it was the most neutrally (or, most importantly, NON) flavoured.

    However, I’m also a weird freak supertasting food weirdo who finds even the most virgin of olive oils too fragrant and potent a flavour most of the time. I also can’t eat pepper because it burns. So…if there’s one weirdo out there like me…sunflower oil!

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