In an imperfect world, can there really be a perfect pantry?
Of course not.
So what's this blog all about, and who am I to be writing about "perfection"?
My name is Lydia Walshin. Before I became a food blogger, I was a contributing editor and food writer for Rhode Island Monthly, a big glossy magazine in the smallest state in the US, for four years, and I've written about food for newspapers and magazines since 1991. I learned how to cook by watching Julia Child on television; by hanging out in my grandmother's kitchen, I learned why we cook — to feed our families, to give joy to our friends, to strengthen our communities, to share with those in need.
My husband and I live in a log house in the woods, where we have a kitchen large enough for groups of friends and family to come and cook together. In fact, as I write this, I should be setting up the kitchen for the arrival later this morning of the Wednesday Lunch Group, one of four cooking groups of adults and kids that have been meeting in my kitchen every 5-6 weeks for many years, to try new recipes, improve their skills, and giggle.
Every group starts with Pantry Raid, a menu featuring four recipes that each rely on one great item from a well-stocked pantry: balsamic vinegar, frozen raw shrimp, puff pastry shells, instant couscous. And I start that first cooking session by handing out a list of The Perfect Pantry, including dry, wet, frozen, preserved, and concocted basics that I use over and over again.
A bit subjective, you say? Yes, indeed. What's perfect for me will not be perfect for you, and each group proves that by adding its own bits of perfection (instant coffee, yes, though whipped cream in a can will never be part of my personal perfect pantry). We're not talking about semi-homemade anything, by the way. Pantry items are the staples that enhance the best fresh ingredients, and make great cooking possible.
When I first set about creating The Perfect Pantry checklist for Ninecooks' cooking groups, I realized I had to justify every item on the list, which made me think about why it's in my pantry, and how I use it.
And that's what this blog will share with you, one condiment, one spice, and one package of rice noodles at a time.
Please share your own favorite recipes as we explore each pantry item, and let me know what's in your perfect pantry.