I use Argorio Rice exclusively for preparing risotto. This rice is quite plump in shape and absorbs liquid, read "flavor," wonderfully and deliciously well. Perhaps I'll find other uses for this particular grain.
Barley is a grain that had a lovely nutty taste, can be used in soups, salads, breads. It softens quite quickly as it is simmered in some sort of stock.
Different preparations call for different varieties of the seemingly unlimited kinds of bread available.
Brown rice is not really a substitute for white rice, at least not in my kitchen. It has its own taste and works very well in certain recipes. I have a real preference for Basmati brown rice.
Mostly, I use cornmeal for baking breads. However, once in a while we do have cornbread, a wonderful accompaniment to some of our hearty soups.
We most often use flour tortillas as wraps for a variety of fillings, either tending toward Middleastern or Southwestern influences.
One of the most basic ingredients used to produce such a variety wonderful foods from breakfast right through dessert in the evening... I can't imagine a kitchen without it.
Although I don't use oatmeal in many recipes, when called for, there is no substitute. Particularly, oatmeal cookies are a favorite in our home. A wonderful dessert, somehow we also feel like we're having something delicious with some good food value as well. Though, truly, I believe all good food has "good food value." I like the "old fashioned" because it gives more texture to the finished dish. If for some reason, a recipe needs a finer texture grain, I just use the food processor with a steel blade and pulse the oats two or three times. This works very well
M-m-m-m ... sesame seeds, especially toasted to a light brown. We use these most often in Asian preparations as a late addition that contributes excellent flavor and subtle texture.
There are just a few ways in which I use these, and for me, there's no substitute.
Wheat Germ is one of my infrequently used ingredients but a very necessary one in a wonderful recipe for Meatless Loaf. Perhaps you have many other uses as well. Thankfully, Wheat Germ keeps very well, stored in the refrigerator.
We are particular about our white rice. We;ve learned that we prefer a medium grain variety to the "extra fancy long grain" normally featured. We find River Rice to be a very dependable choice. Over the years, with my mother's expert input, I've learned that the proportion of liquid to rice specified in most recipes makes for an unsatisfactory result, usually very sticky rice. Rather than the two parts liquid (usually water) to one part rice, I've learned a different way to figure the proportion. Measure into a pan the amount of rice desired. Fill the pan with water up to a level just about one inch above the rice (or the space between the tip of your index finger and the first joint). That's usually just about right. I've also learned somethingelse important about rice. Depending on what season it's harvested, it retains more or less moisture. When I open a new bag of rice, the first time I use it, I start with the measurement just described. Then depending how the rice comes out, I adjust the proportion of water to rice, a little less water if the rice seems a little sticky, or a little more water if the rice seems undercooked. The difference is usually only a few tablespoons or so. While this may seem a little fussy, the process becomes "second nature" pretty quickly and makes for an excellent "batch" of rice every time.