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January 14, 2014

Bay leaves (Recipe: pasta e fagiole) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2007, this updated ingredient post includes new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. Pasta e fagiole (called "pasta fazool" in some parts of New England) falls happily into the meal-in-a-bowl category. Make it ahead, and freeze it for easy worknight dinners; just add some crusty bread, a light green salad, and a glass of wine.

Pasta e fagiole (bean soup with pasta), from The Perfect Pantry.

In 1988, Richard Wilbur was asked in an interview whether, in his role as the United States' second poet laureate, he had to wear a laurel wreath. ''I wouldn't wear it outdoors because it would fall off when I played tennis,'' he answered, but he said that he might get a wreath made of bay leaves, which is a species of laurel. That way, he added, ''When I bowed my head to say grace, I could also season the soup.''

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January 2, 2014

Recipe for vegan pumpkin and potato soup with carrots and curry spices {vegan, gluten-free}

Vegan pumpkin and potato soup (The Perfect Pantry).

When I told my friend Bev I was making a pot of hearty pumpkin and potato soup to aid her recovery from foot surgery, she didn't exactly jump for joy. Okay, maybe the swollen foot restrained her, but I think it was something more. I think it was unbridled skepticism, an unqualified "oh" that hung in the air while I tried to convince her to have faith, that pumpkin and potato together would be wonderful. As it turned out, I was right, of course. Bev loved the soup, sweet from carrots, packed with the healing power of ginger, and now that she's back on her feet, I'm sending this recipe out for her so she can make the soup again.

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December 15, 2013

Recipe for steak salad with Green Goddess dressing

Steak salad with Green Goddess dressing, from The Perfect Pantry.

My husband Ted loves to shop for the holidays at the very last minute, plunging headlong into the crowds and the traffic, relishing the long lines in every store. I don't understand it, but I accept that he approaches with glee that which, to me, is pure agony. Last-minute shopping -- on top of holiday parties, concerts, The Nutcracker and other seasonal delights -- does make these final few days of the month a wee bit crazy, so one of my strategies is to keep it simple, and flexible, in the kitchen. All of the components of this old-fashioned steak salad with Green Goddess dressing (which I made for the world's very best BLT sandwich) can be prepped way ahead. So, no matter how long the lines or how slow the traffic, I can have this beautiful main dish salad on the table in just a few minutes.

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December 12, 2013

Brown rice (Recipe: vegetable fried rice) {vegetarian}

First published in August 2007, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links and tweaks to the recipe. When I make this dish now, I use a much larger proportion of vegetables to rice, so I've adjusted the original recipe. Make as little or as much as you wish, and use any combination of vegetables -- the more colorful, the merrier. When you're running around crazy-busy before the holidays, it's nice to have a quick stir-fry dish in your repertoire for an easy lunch or dinner.

Vegetable fried rice, with broccoli, cabbage, peppers.

I know what you're thinking.

Good grief, three quarts of brown rice! What is she doing with so much rice? Mortaring a brick patio? Filling a sandbox? Making a bean bag chair? Blind-baking a year's worth of pies???

None of the above. This brown Nishiki rice, perfect for the rice cooker to which I am unrepentantly addicted, isn't all that easy to find in the grocery store, and the smallest package in my favorite Asian market happens to be five pounds. I'm glad to have it in my pantry.

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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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