START YOUR KITCHENS To bolster your resolution to cook more in 2009, consider these tips for stocking a kitchen.

On the pantry shelf

• All-purpose flour

• Granulated sugar

• Salt and pepper

• Cooking spray

• Olive oil

• Vegetable oil

• Hot sauce

• Soy sauce

• Dried bouillon or canned stock

• Vinegar (white wine, red wine, apple cider)

• Dried pasta

• Spaghetti sauce

• Rice

• Canned tomatoes

• Canned beans

• Dried Italian seasoning

IN THE PRODUCE CRISPER OR CORNER

• Onions

• Baking potatoes (russets)

• Lemons or lemon juice

• Fresh garlic

IN THE REFRIGERATOR

• Butter or margarine

• Eggs

• Prepared horseradish

• Olives

• Capers

• Ketchup

• Mustard

READY FOR BAKING

• Baking soda and baking powder. (They are not interchangeable. Both are leavening agents, but they function differently.)

• Powdered sugar

• Vanilla extract

• Ground cinnamon

• Chocolate chips

ON THE COOKBOOK SHELF

There are hundreds on the market, but these three basic books keep cooking simple and doable.

The red plaid cover of "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book" (12th edition, $19.95) is a recognizable sight in many American kitchens. It's a turn-to book for everything from baked potatoes to vegetable soup to measurement conversions and cuts of meat. Lots of photos and basic recipes.

For a more sophisticated sensibility, pick up "The New Basics Cookbook," by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (Workman, $19.95). "New Basics" is not as basic as "Better Homes and Gardens" but it includes a useful glossary and clever menu ideas.

The 13th edition of the "Fannie Farmer Cookbook" by Marion Cunningham (Knopf, $30) is the kind of cookbook you just might want to curl up with. Seriously. It opens with page after page of everything you'd want or need to know about ingredients and equipment. No photos, but graceful, instructive drawings. This cookbook will see you from beginning cooking (scrambled eggs) to advanced (making your own stock).

Next week: Cooking resources on the Web and on the shelf.

Janet K. Keeler

St. Petersburg Times