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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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August 4, 2013

Dried black beans (Recipe: moros y cristianos/Cuban black beans and rice) {vegan, gluten-free}

First published in August 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Though it's been many years since I enjoyed moros y cristianos in Cuba, this version of black beans and rice, from one of Havana's most famous restaurants, remains my favorite, and it's perfect for Meatless Monday.

Moros y cristianos (Cuban black beans and rice, with garlic and lime).

Way back when -- we're talking decades ago -- my best friend Joyce had a boyfriend named Tom, who had a series of uninspired jobs to support his dream of hosting a public-radio show about military history.

The jobs, all odd and of fairly short duration, were entirely forgettable. All but one, which involved the packaging of glass stopper-topped jars, presumably for storing chemicals, as the tops were quite tight-fitting. The jars came in a whole range of heights, from just a couple of inches to, well, spaghetti length.

Now you see where this is going.

Of course Joyce and I began to stockpile the jars Tom would bring home (Were they seconds or damaged? We never knew.), and we would fill them with pasta, nuts, peppers, M&Ms, and beans and pulses of every imaginable size and color. No matter that we could spend a lifetime soaking and cooking all of the beans we collected. We were "evolving" (i.e., decorating) our kitchens with beautifully filled glass jars.

Of all the beans, my favorite, then and now, are dried black beans.

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July 14, 2013

How to use honey (and five favorite recipes)

Five favorite recipes with honey.

Right this minute in The Perfect Pantry, I can show you six jars of honey. Really. Six. One is from Costa Rica, a gift from Cousin Martin. Another my husband Ted and I snagged at a monthly Boston event called Mass Innovation Nights, an entrepreneurs' showcase. The others are local. Very local. From my friend Christine's farm in the next town from mine, from Aquidneck Honey in Rhode Island, from farms near Boston. Each honey tastes unique, reflecting the characteristics of the area where those bees have grazed.

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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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