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October 4, 2014

Balsamic vinegar: like or dislike?

Balsamic vinegar

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, even favorite cooking gear. Do you like, dislike, love, crave, despise, wish for, use in your own kitchen? The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell!

Can you remember a time before balsamic vinegar found its way into every salad dressing and sauce served at every restaurant everywhere? Talk about fifteen minutes of fame! Balsamic has enjoyed a decade of fame, or more, and with good reason. A splash on slices of fresh tomato and mozzarella cheese, or added right at the end of cooking a vegetable soup, tickles your taste buds and makes them take notice of what's in your mouth. It's certainly my go-to vinegar. Real balsamic is unbelieveably expensive, so balsamic condiment is what most of us buy. The best balsamic condiment tastes sweet and mellow. I could eat it by the spoonful.

Balsamic vinegar: like or dislike?

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October 1, 2014

Pear and pluot chutney with raisins and ginger {vegan, gluten-free}

Turkey and cheese roll-ups with pear and pluot chutney.

In my house, Thanksgiving comes twice a year: once in mid-October, when we celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with my husband Ted's family, and again in November, when the Americans take their turn. It wouldn't be Canadian Thanksgiving without my sister-in-law's decorated baked potato turkeys, maple-leaf printed napkins, little paper Canadian flags on toothpicks scattered here and there, and moose-shaped cookies. We do love our traditions. Every year, I cook turkey and mashed potatoes and apple pie, and from the harvest from our pear trees, I make mildly-peppery tart chutney to serve alongside the more traditional cranberry sauce. A few weeks ago, I found some wonderful pluots at the market and thought they'd make a sweet counterpart to the pears. A pluot is a cross between a plum and an apricot; sometimes they're sold as plumcots. If you can't find them at your market, substitute ripe plums in this recipe. Chutney, an Indian condiment often served with curries, likes to "bloom" for a few weeks in the refrigerator in order to reach its peak flavor. Make it now, and it will be perfect for whichever Thanksgiving you celebrate. (In the photo above, I've slathered it on a turkey and provolone roll-up.)

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September 28, 2014

Slow cooker Korean-style chicken

Slow cooker Korean-style chicken. #crockpot

Ever since Ken, a long-time reader of The Perfect Pantry, sent me a pile of Hawaiian cookbooks a couple of months ago, I've been having a wonderful time reading recipes and learning more about the island's multicultural cuisine. The book I reach for most often, Hurry Up and Wait: Hawaii's Favorite Recipes for the Pressure Cooker and the Slow Cooker, has yellow stickies on dozens of pages. When the oven is occupied with roasting and baking, both the slow cooker and the pressure cooker get pressed into service in my kitchen. I used my pressure cooker to make Hawaiian sweet potato salad, and the slow cooker to cook a batch of this chicken. If you like Korean barbecue, you'll love this dish, which mimics the spicy-salty barbecue flavor. I always have chicken breasts in the freezer, so I use those instead of thighs. The chicken is delicious hot, as the star of a rice bowl, but I think it's even better cold, sliced and served with crunchy munchy vegetables like crisp celery sticks, bell pepper strips, green beans or snap peas -- and that makes it perfect for take-to-work lunch.

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September 27, 2014

Pumpkin: like or dislike?

Pumpkin puree

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, even favorite cooking gear. Do you like, dislike, love, crave, despise, wish for, use in your own kitchen? The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell!

It's that time of the year. We've segued directly from tomato season to Halloween, and pumpkin is everywhere: pies, cakes, muffins, cookies, and bread. The pick-your-own pumpkin patches at local farms are open for business, and the end-of-the-aisle displays in my local market overflow with cans of pumpkin purée, on sale for prices so low I feel compelled to stash a few in the pantry. In my house, we're not huge pumpkin lovers -- apple pie wins out over pumpkin, any day -- so most of that canned pumpkin finds its way into soup. Our jack-o'-lanterns, whether amusing or terrifying, end up in the compost pile.

Pumpkin: like or dislike?

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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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