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January 14, 2014

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2007, this updated ingredient post includes new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Pasta e fagiole (called "pasta fazool" in some parts of New England) falls happily into the meal-in-a-bowl category. Make it ahead, and freeze it for easy worknight dinners; just add some crusty bread, a light green salad, and a glass of wine.

Pasta e fagiole (bean soup with pasta), from The Perfect Pantry.

In 1988, Richard Wilbur was asked in an interview whether, in his role as the United States' second poet laureate, he had to wear a laurel wreath. ''I wouldn't wear it outdoors because it would fall off when I played tennis,'' he answered, but he said that he might get a wreath made of bay leaves, which is a species of laurel. That way, he added, ''When I bowed my head to say grace, I could also season the soup.''

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January 12, 2014

Recipe for old-fashioned slow cooker pot roast with gravy

Slow cooker pot roast with gravy (The Perfect Pantry).

A couple of weeks ago, I dreamt about a good old-fashioned pot roast with brown gravy, roast potatoes and carrots, the kind of dish we got in the school cafeteria when I was a kid. To satisfy my adult craving, the taste had to be rich, meaty, and traditional. No hot sauce, no random Asian ingredients thrown in for fun: I wanted the pot roast I remembered from childhood. I can't explain why; as cravings go, this one was quite specific. Of course, nothing prevented me from using really good ingredients, and improving on my taste memory with a terrific rendition of pot roast. I loved it all the more because I made it in the slow cooker, which perfumed the house with lovely aromas while I went about the other work I'd planned for the day. Except for a nice piece of beef chuck, everything for this recipe came directly from my well-stocked pantry.

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January 11, 2014

The Pantry Quiz #69

Dried mushrooms

Multiple Choice

I always have dried mushrooms in a jar in my pantry. I love to use them, and the soaking liquid in which they're reconstituted, to enrich soups and stews. Which one of the following is not a real variety of edible dried mushroom?

1. Paddy straw
2. Chilean bolete
3. Rusty red
4. Black trumpet

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January 9, 2014

Recipe for Thai green curry turkey with spinach, green pepper and cilantro

Thai green curry turkey rice bowl (The Perfect Pantry).

Every year should begin on a spicy note. To me, hot and spicy food in January portends a zesty, adventurous year ahead. In creating this Thai curry turkey with spinach, green pepper and cilantro, which I served over a bowl of steaming brown rice, I knew I wanted to keep everything green and herby by using the Thai green curry paste I always have in my refrigerator. When it comes to Asian condiments, I like what I like. I prefer the Maesri brand of Thai curry paste, which is all-natural and full of fresh cilantro and other herbs, and for fish sauce, it's always Three Crabs, in a bottle with, yes, three crabs on a pink label. Authentic condiments make all the difference, so why not start the year with an adventure: a trip to your local Asian grocery store. Fill your pantry with great condiments, and cook along with me all year!

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my log house kitchen in rural northwest Rhode Island, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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