What's better than wandering the aisles of a small local market, finding new foods and imagining new possibilities, filling your shopping cart with herbs and spices, pickles and produce, discovering that something you brought home from the market is so good that you want to give it a permanent home in your pantry?
What's better than that?
Having those wonderful pantry items come right to your door. With recipes!
Twice in the past week, glorious spices -- spicy spices -- with recipes included arrived via US Mail.
When Katie from Thyme for Cooking and Lindsay of Country girl city living came up with the idea of Seasoned Eatings, I, pantry junkie that I am, had to join in. The idea was simple: send a spice that represents where you live or how you cook (mine went here), and receive a spice from someone else.
Carmen, who grew up in New Mexico but now lives in Mississippi, where she writes Articles dans la poucan, sent me New Mexico chili powder, which happens to be one of the spices I always keep in my pantry. Unlike the blended chili powder that's a mix of chile pepper, cumin, salt and pepper, this chili powder (which should be called chile powder -- remember the whole "chile with an e" discussion here?) is pure ground long New Mexico green and red chile peppers, varieties with names like Big Jim, Eclipse, Rio Grande, Anaheim, Chimayo, Sunrise, Sunset, Sandia and Española.
In addition to adding zing to your cooking, New Mexico chile peppers are among the world's healthiest foods; the capcaisin in chile peppers helps reduce inflammation, boost immunity, prevent ulcers, and lower blood sugar.
You can find New Mexico chili powder in Latin markets, in regular (moderately mild) or hot varieties. Use either one in recipes for pork picadillo, turkey chili or vegetarian chili, egg curry and salmon with fruit salsa.
Thank you, Carmen!
(Next post: the other wonderful spice that arrived by mail last week.)
Carmen's black bean soup
In the package with the chili powder, Carmen included several recipes for chili, enchiladas, and this soup. Everyone has his or her own way of making black bean soup, but the texture of Carmen's version intrigued me. I've added onions, because I can't seem to make soup without them. Serves 2.
2 15-oz cans black beans
1 tsp canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-1/2 Tbsp New Mexico chili powder
Salt and black pepper, to taste
In a food processor, grind one can of black beans (with the liquid in the can). In a sauce pan, add oil and onion, and sauté until the onion is translucent. Add the black bean puree from the processor, the second can of black beans (with the liquid in the can), and all remaining ingredients. Simmer on lowest heat until thickened, stirring often to keep the soup from burning, 2-3 hours.
Treat yourself to a weekend in Providence, which has become one hot foodie destination. Visit the Johnson & Wales Culinary Archives, eat at the famous Al Forno or New Rivers or the hip new Local 121. Start with our Menu for Hope prize, generously offered by Rhode Island Market Tours:
Item #UE12. Two tickets to SHOPPING FEDERAL HILL: AN INSIDER'S FOOD TOUR, a three-hour culinary tour of Providence, Rhode Island's, most famous Italian food neighborhood. Taste your way through "The Hill" as Cindy Salvato, an executive pastry chef and cooking instructor, takes you behind the scenes and into market and bakery kitchens, sampling bread, cheese, antipasto and vino along the way. Good for any scheduled tour before December 31, 2008 (tours run on Saturdays and some weekdays, throughout the year); tickets are transferable but not refundable. This $90 value can be yours for $10 (hint, hint: the more tickets you buy, the more chances you have to win).
Bake. Decorate. Donate. It's a simple idea. Bake some cookies. Invite friends, family, co-workers, or neighbors to help decorate. Donate your cookies to a local agency serving people in need, and "give back" while having fun.
Planning a Drop In & Decorate event? Please let me know (lydia AT ninecooks DOT com) so we can share the fun.
To learn more about Drop In & Decorate Cookies for Donation, including how to host your own party, visit www.ninecooks.com; then stop in at A Veggie Venture, 37 Days, Culinary Types, Nikas Culinaria, Homesick Texan, Food Blogga, The Inadvertent Gardener, Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, La Mia Cucina, One Hot Stove, The Cooking Adventures of Chef Paz, French Kitchen in America, Veronica's Test Kitchen, Kelly the Culinarian, shawnkenney.com, Thyme for Cooking: The Blog, Chew on That, Nook & Pantry, Cookthink, Tea & Cookies, Mele Cotte, Cream Puffs in Venice, startcooking.com, Shazam in the Kitchen, The Family Quilt, The Daily Tiffin, Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, The Budget Bambino, Baking and Books, What's for Lunch, Honey?, The Pink Hobart and Fun and Food.
"I love Drop In & Decorate for the gathering of the community. To see old and new friends gathered around a table of cookies with icing in hand brings a smile to my face every year!" Jennifer, volunteer
Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.