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October 7, 2010

Lemons (Recipe: lemon lavender cookies)

Lemon lavender cookies: unusual and delicious!

One curious thing to know about lemons:

In the Middle Ages, cooks first got the idea to serve lemon with fish. Not because it tastes so good (which it does) or because the tartness of the lemon balances the oiliness of fish (which it does), but because they believed that if a fish bone accidentally got caught in the throat, the acidic juice of the lemon would dissolve it. I'm not making this up. Though we know today that lemon juice isn't powerful enough to melt bones, we also know it's a powerful flavoring that makes any time of year seem like summer. And while I'm all in favor of eating locally grown food, I'm grateful to the infrastructure that brings me lemons from warmer climates all year round.

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August 29, 2010

Onions (Recipe: clam, bacon and caramelized onion pita pizza)

Clam, bacon and caramelized onion pita pizza

Years ago, I met a woman who was allergic to onions.

Perhaps she thought me terribly rude, but I never invited her for a meal, because I couldn't imagine what I might be able to cook for her.

Back then I wasn't much of a cook, but even today, I'd have to work hard to put together a meal that tastes just as good without onions as with them. Every soup base and every stew begins with onions. Cajun recipes start with "the trinity" (onions, celery and bell pepper); French dishes open with a mirepoix (onions, celery and carrots).

I don't eat raw onions, but roast, grill, sauté or -- be still my heart -- caramelize an onion, and I'm there.

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June 10, 2010

Ginger root (Recipe: pomegranate-orange-ginger shrimp) {gluten-free}

Pomegranate orange ginger shrimp

I haven't planted ginger root in the herb garden this year.

I meant to do it, and forgot, until just this minute. 

Do you remember that my friend Julia of Grow. Cook. Eat. taught me last summer that you can plant a piece of ginger root, and it will send out new shoots and roots, and pretty soon you have your own little ginger farm?

I'm off to the market tomorrow for the freshest piece of ginger I can find. You, too?

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March 18, 2010

Limes (Recipe: salmon croquettes with sesame-lime sauce)

Salmon croquettes with sesame-lime mayonnaise make a perfect appetizer.

In the house where I grew up, lemons were for cooking.

Limes were for cocktails.

My parents, like many suburbanites in the 1950s, hosted more after-dinner parties than dinner parties. Out came the card tables, the mixed nuts, and the mixed drinks. The game of choice was bridge, and the bar stood ready to provide any type of liquid refreshment. A bowl of lime wedges sat next to the ever-present ice bucket.

Apart from those occasions, I never saw limes in my mother's kitchen. (Lime Jell-o doesn't count.)

In my own, however, limes play an essential role in the Asian and Mexican cooking I love to do.

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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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