March 28, 2015

Rubber spatulas: like or dislike?

Rubber spatulas

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Here's what I love about rubber spatulas: you can slip their heads off, pop them into the dishwasher or soak them in a bowl of hot hot hot water, and they get clean. Really clean, in a way that wooden spoons never do (and you know how much I love my wooden spoons). You can use rubber spatulas in high heat cooking, for mixing and folding, to get at sticky things like rice or molasses... so many uses, and rubber spatulas come in all sizes to accommodate. I have a small one, a very large one, a bunch of medium-sized ones, and my favorite, leopard spots with a silicone handle. (My husband Ted and I can tell you a true story about a dinner party hostess who once lost a corner of a rubber spatula in a batch of chocolate mousse -- and went ahead and served that mousse after warning us that someone might bite into a piece of rubber. I'm not kidding.) I use my rubber spatulas every day.

Rubber spatulas: like or dislike?

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March 21, 2015

Cashews: like or dislike?

Cashews

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Of all the nuts in all the world, my favorite -- the cashew -- isn't a nut at all. Native to Brazil, cashews are actually seeds of the cashew apple fruit, though in cooking and for snacking, cashews behave just like nuts. As a teenager, I always picked the cashews out of the mixed-nut canister, and today, when I'm lucky enough to get on a flight that offers some hot mixed nuts with my free drink (okay, that's not very often), I still pick out the cashews and pass the rest off to my travel companion. Maybe it's the crescent shape that attracts me, or maybe it's just the creamy mild flavor of cashews that I love. Nuts or not nuts, they've always been top of the bowl for me.

Cashews: like or dislike?

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March 14, 2015

Cumin: like or dislike?

Cumin seed.

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

I absolutely cannot imagine cooking without cumin, a spice that has traveled all around the world from its origins in the eastern Mediterranean and India. Think of it: without cumin, we'd have no Mexican food, no Mid-Eastern food, no Indian food, no food from the American Southwest or South America or most of North or West Africa. Cumin has a distinctive, musky flavor and and seductive, smoky aroma. Although it tastes best if you grind the seeds as you need them, I confess that I use good quality ground cumin more often. If you love cumin, you can't live without it. I'm a big-time cumin lover. How about you?

Cumin: like or dislike?

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March 7, 2015

Silicone baking mats: like or dislike?

Silicone baking mats; photo from Amazon.com.

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

In the beginning, there were Silpats -- miraculous silicone baking mats that guaranteed no cookie, pastry, or meatloaf would stick to a baking sheet. Now there are many brands, at many price points. Good at temperatures up to 450°F and even higher, the mats last for 1,000 bakings or more, and they're easy to wash. Sound too good to be true? It's true. I have Silpats (and other brands, too) that have baked hundreds of batches of cookies for donation, and are still going strong. Don't use them under the broiler (I did that one time and yes, it caught on fire), but for baking or roasting, I can't say enough good things about them. I have them in several different sizes, to fit all of my sheet pans, and the super-large size mats are great for rolling out dough. Are you a fan of silicone baking mats?

Silicone baking mats: like or dislike?

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February 28, 2015

Cloth napkins: like or dislike?

Cloth-napkins

Welcome to Like or Dislike, where you get to share how you really feel about ingredients from the pantry, ingredients I'm thinking about adding to my pantry, other seasonal foods, and favorite cooking gear. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

When, twenty years ago, our daughter returned from a year of study and eco-travel around the world, the first thing she did was banish paper napkins (serviettes, for those of you who live where "napkins" means diapers) from our house. She was right, of course, that we'd never paid attention to the huge amount of paper waste we were generating. These days, we have a huge stash of mismatched cloth napkins that we use for everyday as well as for special occasions. It's possible that, at some point, we actually had matching napkins, but now we have a hodge-podge of colors and patterns. Sometimes our table settings look a bit like a Mardi Gras parade, but the crazy collection of cloth napkins has become who we are. How about you? Do you use paper napkins, cloth napkins, or both? And if you use cloth napkins, do they match? [Thanks to my husband Ted for suggesting this week's Like or Dislike question.]

Cloth napkins: like or dislike?

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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.

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