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November 8, 2014

Coffee: like or dislike?

Coffee

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!

In my house, this week's Like or Dislike is what we call a no-brainer. Without my two cups of coffee every morning, life as we know it would not exist. I drink it black these days, two cups, and if I have a third, I switch to decaf. I also love a cup of coffee at the end of a long dinner, when others might be enjoying a liquer or a glass of port. Coffee also finds its way into stews and baked chocolate goodies (not that I bake very often), where a little bit of coffee or espresso enhances and deepens the chocolate flavor. Tell us about your relationship with coffee. Or, are you a tea person?

Coffee: like or dislike?

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November 5, 2014

Curried butternut squash and apple soup {vegan, gluten-free}

Curried butternut squash and apple soup, with Thai flavors. #glutenfree #vegan

In our house, Fall doesn't begin officially until the first pot of butternut squash soup hits the stove. Most often, I combine butternut (my favorite, though buttercup, acorn or Hubbard are wonderful substitutes) with apples from our local orchards, and bind them together with Indian curry spices like cumin, coriander and turmeric. Lately, I've been craving the raw heat of Thai red curry paste, and that sent this year's butternut squash soup in a new direction. (The recipe calls for a tablespoon of curry paste, which won't make the soup very spicy, but please use half that amount if you're worried about too much heat. You can always add more.) The thick and creamy soup is vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free, thanks to coconut milk. A little bit of brown sugar and a hit of fresh lime juice add a light, bright finish. If you're doing a soup swap this winter, put this soup on your make-ahead-and-freeze list.

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November 2, 2014

Spanish rice with onion, garlic and bell peppers {gluten-free}

Spanish rice, a perfect kid-friendly side dish with beef, chicken or fish.  #glutenfree

Oh, the places you can go with this basic Spanish rice -- which isn't Spanish at all, to be honest. It's American, or Southwestern, or Mexican, depending on what you add to it. Some recipes call for canned tomato with its juice, which can overwhelm the dish and make it taste like a can of tomato rice soup, or maybe a 1950s school cafeteria lunch. Here, the emphasis stays on the rice; the combination of fresh tomatoes and slow-roasted tomatoes (made with garlic and thyme) adds depth of flavor, without drowning out the toasted grain's nutty flavor and firm texture. As is, this is a family-friendly side dish that makes it fun to eat your colors. Mix-ins can transform it into a one-pot main course; add mild or hot fresh or canned chile peppers, chorizo or your favorite sausage, shrimp, leftover rotisserie chicken, meatballs, or cubes of grilled pork or beef. Olé!

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November 1, 2014

Halloween candy: like or dislike?

Halloween candy! Photo from Phoenix New Times.

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!

TRUE CONFESSION: I always buy extra Halloween candy, just so there will be some left over. Because this can be dangerous (in a delicious way), my current be-kind-to-my-hips strategy is to buy only the candy that never tempts me: those famous little peanut butter cups, or chocolate bars with coconut. The kids in our neighborhood love them, but peanut butter and coconut just aren't my thing. I'm partial to Hershey miniatures, Junior Mints, and M&Ms. Oh, okay: red licorice Twizzlers, too. So, come on, 'fess up: what's your favorite Halloween candy? Did you buy too much, hoping for leftovers? Or, did you beg your kids for some of their trick-or-treat haul?

Halloween candy: 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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