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April 27, 2010

Ground beef (Recipe: Chinese "spaghetti and meat sauce")

Chinese spaghetti and meat sauce

Remember Henry David Thoreau, that 19th Century philosopher-writer-transcendentalist guy who lived in a cabin at Walden Pond?

He believed in living simply, with the seasons.

Even though he was right here in New England, he probably wasn't thinking about the seasons in quite the same way we do: pear tree pruning season (February), mud season (March), mowing season (April), burger-on-the-grill season (May).

I'm ready for May all year round; ground beef is a staple in my pantry freezer. I use it for more than burgers, of course, and I buy the "happiest" and leanest ground beef I can find.

Grilling season started a few weeks early this year. I wish Thoreau were still around. I'd invite him over for a burger.

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March 16, 2010

Spaghetti (Recipe: spaghetti with basil pesto, tomato and olives) {vegetarian}

Spaghetti with basil pesto 

I don't know why, but I almost never cook spaghetti anymore.

Some time in the 1970s, I switched from spaghetti to linguine because it was a favorite of The Frugal Gourmet, who was a favorite of mine. And then, in the 1990s, when I started eating more of my everyday meals with chopsticks, I switched from linguine to fusilli (little corkscrews), which are easier to grab.

A few years ago, I switched from fusilli to rotini, because Dreamfields makes its delicious low-carb pasta in that twisty shape.

Dreamfields also makes spaghetti, so this year I've put spaghetti back in our pasta rotation.

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February 18, 2010

Beef hot links (Recipe: yellow split pea and sausage soup)

Yellow split pea soup

Some ingredients earn permanent resident status in my pantry because I use them in more ways than I can count.

Sometimes, I can count on one hand the number of dishes I make with an ingredient.

Beef hot links are one of those one-hand ingredients, but the handful of dishes I make with them are some of our all-time favorites.

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January 21, 2010

Smoked turkey or chicken sausage, a Pantry Special (Recipe: "chicks in blankets" with mustard dip)

Pantry Specials are great ingredients that find their way into my pantry from time to time, but not all the time. Easy Apps Week, Day Three. 

Chicks in blankets

A sausage is highly seasoned minced meat, stuffed into a casing, cooked or cured. A smoked turkey or chicken sausage, in addition to being all of the above, has the advantage of being lower in fat and calories than a traditional pork sausage, and because of that it's an occasional visitor in my pantry. Though sausages aren't exactly health food because they often have a high sodium and fat content, a single sausage can add a huge flavor punch to beans, pasta, stuffing or soup. When shopping for turkey or chicken sausages, read labels carefully or know your source, if pork-free is your goal; many non-pork sausages are stuffed into pork casings. Turkey or chicken sausages, cooked or uncooked, can be stored in the freezer for months. This is one Pantry Special that's available in your local supermarket.

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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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