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October 9, 2008

How to preserve the harvest, even if it comes from the grocery store (Recipe: pear chutney)


Every year in May, Candy and Dave drive down from Boston to help me prepare and plant the herb garden.

Every Monday morning in summer, before sunrise and before my first cup of coffee, I toddle out into the garden in my pajamas and cut handfuls of herbs. After I wrap the cuttings in damp paper towels, Ted delivers them to Boston in what we've come to call our very own "herb CSA."

Every September, Candy and Dave return to harvest, cook, dry and freeze the fruits (and herbs) of our summer garden into pantry items we use all winter.

This year, on harvest day, we put up two types of pesto, mint jalapeño syrup -- and the hottest chutney this side of anywhere.

Continue reading "How to preserve the harvest, even if it comes from the grocery store (Recipe: pear chutney)" »

November 6, 2007

Garlic (Recipe: pear and parsnip soup)

Updated March 2011.


Here in Rhode Island, people don't always know what to do with the letter R.

It pops up where it shouldn't: Coventry becomes "Carventry," Lydia becomes "Lydier."

And it's missing from at least one fundamental pantry ingredient: garlic, which the locals call gah-lick.

Fortunately, it's only the R that's missing, and not the garlic itself. Rhode Island is justly famous for Italian-American cuisine, with no skimping on the garlic. Two farms within a few miles of my house offer unusual and heirloom varieties, including both softneck (the most common type) and hardneck. In the supermarket, garlic is garlic, anonymous and uniform, but at the farm stands, garlic answers to many names: Rocambole, Spanish Roja, Chesnok Red, Mexican Red Silver.

Continue reading "Garlic (Recipe: pear and parsnip soup)" »

October 14, 2007

Parsley (Recipe: tzatziki) {vegetarian}


Simon and Garfunkel would feel right at home in my herb garden.

I have it all: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Can you see them in this photo?


I have lemon thyme and lemongrass, Thai basil and purple basil, chives and garlic chives too, but for some reason, I've never been able to grow dill.

Fresh herbs are an important part of The Perfect Pantry, even though they are only available from the garden for five months of the year. Of the four herbs of song, parsley will be first to go, as night temperatures begin their descent into winter. (Most of the tender basil has bid farewell for the year, though there is a fresh batch of pesto in the freezer.) It's a shame, too, because this year my parsley field produced the most glorious plants, rich in color and flavor, and, for the first time, I began to use my flat-leaf parsley not only as a garnish, but also as a valued ingredient in my cooking.

Continue reading "Parsley (Recipe: tzatziki) {vegetarian}" »

July 22, 2007

Fresh herbs, three bricks, one cookbook (Recipe: brick-grilled chicken thighs) {gluten-free}


When Sunday morning starts with the ring of the telephone, you know someone, somewhere, is calling to tell you something you don't want to hear.

"I'm sick," my friend Cindy sniffled into the phone.

A summer cold, the kind that works its way through your entire body and makes you feel like jello, had taken hold, so we had to let go of our plan to spend last Sunday evening cooking together.

A few weeks ago, when Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice and Cath of A Blithe Palate invited me to join other bloggers and cook from Faith Heller Willinger's new book, Adventures of an Italian Food Lover: with recipes from 254 of my very best friends, I knew instantly which Italian food lover I'd invite to dinner. I called Cindy, not because she is my most Italian friend (she is), or because she is a professional food stylist (she is), or because she is a certified executive pastry chef (she is). And not because we have gone on several food adventures together, to an Asian supermarket in Boston and to farm stands closer to home (we have), and not even because she runs highly entertaining "insider" walking tours of Providence's Federal Hill, the most Italian neighborhood in Rhode Island (she does).

I wanted to cook for Cindy, and her husband Ken, because she makes friends wherever she goes. She knows the man who sells her pasta and proscuitto, the woman who grows giant zucchini blossoms, the ladies who bake the best pastries, and the neighbor who grows grapes in his backyard vineyard and makes wine in the garage. Food shopping, to her, is a person-to-person experience, and that is the premise of Ms. Willinger's book, too.

Choosing a menu was easy.

Continue reading "Fresh herbs, three bricks, one cookbook (Recipe: brick-grilled chicken thighs) {gluten-free}" »

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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