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August 29, 2015

Slow cookers (crock pots): like or dislike?

Slow cooker.

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.

Though I came late to slow cooker cooking, I absolutely love it. In The Downsizing, I kept two slow cookers (of the four I had): a $20 oval four-quart Crock-Pot®, a popular size I use for recipe testing; and a six-quart Ninja Cooking System with a few more bells and whistles, that's become my everyday slow cooker. In the summer, when I do not want to turn on the oven, slow cookers keep the kitchen cool. And this summer, when I didn't have a lot of stamina for cooking after a couple of hip surgeries, I could still manage to throw a meal together in the slow cooker and let it do its thing with minimal effort on my part. Do you use a slow cooker? Do you have more than one? More than two?

Slow cookers: like or dislike?

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August 22, 2015

Fresh ginger: like or dislike?

Ginger root

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.

Ah, fresh ginger. On the plus side, there's incomparable taste, and health benefits (settles your stomach, great for air travel). On the minus side, too much can overwhelm a dish and numb your taste buds. You can stick a knob of ginger in the ground, and it will produce many little gingers for a season's worth of cooking (thanks to my friend Julia for teaching me that). In Chinese and Indian cuisine, nothing replaces fresh ginger, which brings balance to the seasonings in stir-fries and curries. Dried ginger, which I use in baking, is no substitute for fresh. Do you agree?

Fresh ginger: like or dislike?

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August 15, 2015

Curry powder: like or dislike?

Curry powder

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 I moved into my first apartment, I stocked my meager spice rack with a few basics I remembered from my mother's kitchen: table salt and black pepper, of course, but also tins of paprika and hot mustard (for dipping sauces for Chinese take-out), oregano and cinnamon and Madras curry powder. Even back then, you could buy Madras curry powder in the supermarket spice aisle. I didn't know there was more than one type of curry powder, or even that it was, in fact, a blend of spices. Now I know, and I keep half a dozen curry powders on my spice rack. I've also stocked most of the components to blend my own curry powder, though I confess that I never do it, because I'm just not knowledgeable or confident enough to get it right. I use sweet curry more than any other, and sometimes I mix it 50-50 with hot curry. How about you? Do you use curry powder, or do you mix your own?

Curry powder: like or dislike?

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August 8, 2015

Sweet corn: like or dislike?

Sweet+Corn

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 in New England, we wait and wait and wait for corn season, which, like tomato season, really doesn't begin until late July. We consume endless quantities of corn on the cob, checking each week at the farm stand for our favorite butter-and-sugar and Silver Queen, and by Labor Day weekend, our short season comes to a screeching halt. Thank goodness for good quality frozen sweet corn, on which we rely for the rest of the year. (I'm partial to Cascadian Farms frozen organic corn, which I can buy in my local supermarkets.) Sweet corn has a high sugar content, making it a special treat on our table, but I can't imagine summer without it. Is corn on (or off) the cob one of your summer pleasures?

Sweet corn: like or dislike?

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August 1, 2015

Garlic press: like or dislike?

Garlic press; image from http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/rosle-garlic-press/

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 Downsizing, many kitchen gadgets that had been relegated to the back of the pantry drawers didn't make the trip from country to city. I found an old garlic press, like the one pictured above, and realized it had been years since I used it. Garlic presses are great for mincing garlic quickly, but I find that a bit of practice with a very sharp knife accomplishes the same goal. Other ways to mince garlic include a Microplane grater, or even a Chinese ginger grater. As I continue to purge my kitchen of single-purpose utensils and tools, the garlic press had to go. Do you use and love your garlic press?

Garlic press: 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. Thanks so much for visiting.

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