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February 6, 2014

Instant couscous (Recipe: sweet couscous for a crowd) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. The recipe -- so simple, I feel funny calling it a recipe -- is something I've been making for decades. It's a perfect accompaniment to spicy chicken or vegetable stews.

Sweet couscous with raisins and pine nuts (The Perfect Pantry).

Last winter, I treated my kitchen to a couscoussier, a double-decker pot used to create traditional Moroccan stews and couscous. The stew goes in the bottom, and rising steam infuses and plumps the couscous resting in the perforated top compartment.

It's a beautiful thing, but I have yet to use it.

I tried. I really did. My cooking group made a menu called Preserving the Lemon, which included three dishes inspired by Moroccan cuisine. We used our tagines, but when it came time to set up the couscoussier — and start the slow process of rinsing, drying, steaming and steaming again — we looked at each other and, in unison, said, "Instant couscous!"

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February 2, 2014

Hot sauce (Recipe: smoky brown rice and lentils) {vegan, gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. To me, lentils plus brown rice equals comfort food. Use your favorite store-bought or homemade smoky barbecue sauce; I love Rhode Island's own Cowboy Ketchup, gluten-free and not too spicy. Serve this vegan combination as a side dish, or a Meatless Monday main dish with a side salad.

Smoky brown rice and lentils for Meatless Mondays (The Perfect Pantry).

For as long as I can remember, I've had a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce in my pantry.

For many years, it was the same bottle. I used to buy the little two-ounce supermarket standard, and those two ounces would sit on the shelf for a few years, until the sauce turned brown and gunky. I'd throw it out, and buy another little bottle, and start the cycle all over again. No matter what a recipe called for, I never used more than a drop at a time. Sometimes I just left out the hot sauce altogether. I was afraid of the heat.

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January 26, 2014

Worcestershire sauce (Recipe: curry dip)

Originally published in May 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. Sometimes we forget about the simple appetizers, and how well they can set the stage for a meal. This dip takes just seconds to make, and it's always a hit. Serve it with chilled crudites, or with crusty roasted vegetables.

Curry dip, best if made ahead. Serve with roasted veggies or crudites. (The Perfect Pantry)

In July, 1981, the US Department of the Army was "honored" by Taxpayers for Common Sense with their Golden Fleece Award, for spending $6,000 to prepare a 17-page manual on how to buy Worcestershire sauce.

Seriously.

Never fear, my friends; you don't need to read the report. I'm going to tell you how to buy Worcestershire sauce (I'll even tell you how to use it), and my advice won't cost you a penny.

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August 27, 2013

Canned black beans (Recipe: vegan black bean cakes with guacamole)

First published in July 2008, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe, which I learned from the chef at a restaurant in my Boston neighborhood many years ago. My taste buds have matured a bit since I first tried this recipe in the mid 1990s, so it's possible I now add a wee bit more cayenne pepper than the recipe specifies.

Vegan black bean cakes with guacamole.

A condensed history of canned black beans and me...

Ages 0-14. No black beans. No beans at all. Seriously. My mother never cooked them.

Ages 15-16. Campbell's Vegetarian Baked Beans (not black). During my brief affair with vegetarianism in my high school days, I'd come home from tennis practice, open a can, grab a spoon, and eat those beans cold, right from the can. Loved, loved, loved them. I don't think Campbell's makes them anymore.

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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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