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July 10, 2008

Ground cardamom (Recipe: spice rub for chicken)


How do you say cardamom?

Nobody's entirely sure of the etymology of the word, though it originated in ancient Greek (kardamomom), but the names for this popular spice from the ginger family are varied: shooshmir (Armenian); sugmel (Tibetan); trúc sa (Vietnamese); phalazee (Burmese); elaichi (Hindi); habbahan (Arabic); karudamon (Japanese); cardamomo (Italian); kardamonas (Lithuanian); kardemon (Estonian); kardemomme (Danish).

My favorite is kardemumma (Swedish) perhaps because I can imagine my Swedish brother-in-law Nils pronouncing each lilting syllable -- kar de MUM a -- his blue eyes twinkling, a glass of cardamom-laced akvavit raised for a toast.

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August 9, 2007

Flavored sea salt (Recipe: Grilled sirloin tips with asparagus)


In the beginning, everything was pink.

Not just pink. Barbie pink.

My first big-girl bedroom.

My first and only prom gown.

My first contact lenses. (I was 14 years old, and when the doctor asked what color I wanted, I said, "Ooooh, I always wanted blue eyes." He pointed out that the lenses wouldn't change my brown eye color, so the sassy teenager in me replied, "Well, then, might as well make them pink." He did.)

My first sea salt was pink, too, a lovely, faintly volcanic, not-at-all-Barbie, reddish-pink salt from Hawaii.

Until a couple of years ago, I didn't really "get" salt. I don't mean that I didn't have salt in The Perfect Pantry; I had plenty. Iodized table salt (for baking) and kosher salt (for everyday). That Hawaiian pink salt. Black salt. French fleur de sel and Portuguese flor de sal.

I pinched here and there, and used my salts sparingly for baking and on matzoh brei. Then, just when I'd gotten the hang of colored salts, I discovered flavored sea salt.

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July 26, 2007

Granulated garlic (Recipe: dry rub for steak)


Granulated garlic is to fresh garlic as (blank) is to (blank).

As pepper flakes are to habañeros?

As decaf is to espresso?

As Brad Pitt is to George Clooney? (I guess this one depends on your taste. Maybe the other way around?)

The point is that granulated garlic will never have quite the zing of the fresh, but, as my family says when we're seeing the glass half full, it has other attributes.

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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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