That was then, this is now, and we are four.
Yesterday, without a lot of hullaballoo, without one single speck of hullaballoo as a matter of fact, The Perfect Pantry turned four.
Four years of ingredients, new tastes and old favorites. Four years of recipes. A fresh, new design. An improved recipe index. A master list of the more than 250 pantry items that are always on my spice rack and in the cupboards, refrigerator and freezer.
I didn't want to celebrate without you, so now that you're here (thank you for being here), I have a few birthday presents to share. Presents for you, because you are here today and because you have been here, many of you, for four years.
A lot changes in four years, and one of the big changes on this blog is that, because you asked for it, I now photograph the food I cook, instead of only the ingredient that is the subject of the post.
The early posts from 2006 to mid-2008, the ones packed with lots of the information that forms the backbone of The Perfect Pantry, always show you what the ingredient looks like, so you can find it in the market. But what are ingredients without recipes for how to use them? And what are recipes without photos?
I don't know if I'll ever get to all of them, but I promise to update a few of those photo-free posts each month. And while I'm at it, I'm checking for links that no longer go anywhere, and fixing other blogging bloopers to make it easier for you to find information and enjoy the recipes.
For my birthday present to you, I've updated four of my favorite posts. I'm not going in any particular order, except that I started at the beginning, the very first post, which features the recipe that launched my food writing career nearly twenty years ago. Garlic chicken on skewers (shish taouk) -- in the photo at the top of this post -- started it all for me, and it seemed like the place to start updating, too.
While I was poking around in the summer of 2006, I also photographed spicy skirt steak cooked on the grill, and two additional chicken recipes: rice noodle salad with chicken, a perfect light and healthy main course, and chicken marbella. I hadn't made chicken marbella in four years, and after nibbling on the cold leftovers the morning after, I'm putting this dish right back into the rotation for summer entertaining.
These four posts -- focusing on allspice, chipotle peppers in adobo, capers and rice vermicelli -- are all from the first few months of The Perfect Pantry, and certainly not everything was perfect back then. It's still not perfect, so please stick around as I learn enough about photography to show you images of food that looks good enough to eat, and easy to cook, with ingredients you already have on hand.
As always, and I say this often because I really mean it, you are the most important ingredient in The Perfect Pantry.
For your encouragement, humor, loyalty, and generous spirit, for sharing your pantry photos, for correcting my typos and double-checking the recipes and adding to our collective knowledge about the ingredients we each collect to form our own perfect pantries, I am deeply grateful.