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January 1, 2015

Beat the Drum: How we can help end childhood hunger in America, and then we can do even more.

Every year since I began writing The Perfect Pantry in 2006, I've started the new year here with a plea to work harder to end childhood hunger in America. And every year, I'm sad to report that the number of children living with food insecurity -- not knowing where their next meal is coming from -- has risen.

16 million children. 1 out of every 5 kids in America.

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December 28, 2014

Mango-jalapeño turkey meatballs

Healthy baked mango-jalapeno turkey meatballs. #appetizer

For the past few years, before he retired, my husband Ted spent several nights each week in Boston, where he had no kitchen save for a tiny fridge and microwave. So, for the past few years, I would cook on the weekends and send him off for the week with bags and containers of frozen food, including tons of turkey meatballs. Ted's favorite way to eat them was in a bowl of crispy salad, which I have to admit tasted pretty good. One week, I hadn't cooked anything, and he'd run out of frozen meatballs, so we headed to the market and found mango-jalapeño chicken meatballs. Oh, so good. After all, they were loaded with sweet mango and brown sugar! I decided to adapt the concept to my basic turkey meatball formula, by adding a bit more heat and reducing the sugar. Ted loved these little sweet-hot meatballs in his salad; I served them as an appetizer, alongside chunks of crunchy jicama. I think they'd make a great starter at a New Year's Eve party. Look for cans of mango nectar in the Latin foods aisle at the grocery store.

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December 27, 2014

Champagne: like or dislike?

Champagne.

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. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Why do we drink champagne to celebrate the new year, or other special occasions? The tradition of drinking champagne to mark celebrations originated in the 18th Century in the royal courts of Europe. "Royalty loved the novelty of sparkling wine. It was said to have positive effects on women's beauty and man's wit," according to Live Science. Well, that may be, but we love it because the dramatic pop of a champagne cork signals the opening of festivities. And our cats love playing with the wire thingies that hold the corks in place. Do you ring in the new year with champagne? Sparkling wine? Milk and cookies?

Champagne: like or dislike?

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December 21, 2014

Last-minute chocolate gingerbread cake

Chocolate gingerbread cake: less than an hour, start to finish!

It's that time of year, the time when everyone is out and about, braving the crowded stores and getting prepared for the holidays. It's crazy-busy, and exhausting, and if you live on the flight path between your friends and the local shopping center, you will probably get some spontaneous drop-in visitors in search of a restorative cup of tea, a supportive hug, and a rest room with no waiting line. Even if you didn't get more than a quick text message saying, "I'm coming over in a few minutes", you can throw together a cake that's sure to cure the shopping blues. This last-minute from-the-pantry chocolate gingerbread cake comes together in less time than it takes to preheat the oven, and in an hour, start-to-finish, it's baked and cooled and ready for visitors. Even better, if you have a few minutes at the end of the day, throw one of these cakes in the oven. When it's cooled, cut it into four pieces and freeze. Each piece will serve 3-4 tired friends. Dust the cake with powdered sugar, or top it with ice cream, right before serving.

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December 20, 2014

Candy canes: like or dislike?

Candy canes, from publicdomainpictures.net.

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. The things you like are sure to find their way to the recipes here on The Perfect Pantry, so do tell.

Candy canes. The ultimate stocking stuffers and tree ornaments. Do you chew them, crush them, suck on them? Do you buy the small ones in strips, or the large ones that last a week? Candy canes weren't part of my childhood -- we went more for chocolate Chanukah "gelt" -- but I love to decorate holiday gifts and fill our grandkids' stockings with them. Offer me a mug of steaming hot cocoa with a candy cane stirrer on a cold winter night, and I'm a happy camper. Do candy canes bring back childhood memories for you? Are they part of your holiday tradition?

Candy canes: like or dislike?

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About The Perfect Pantry®

  • 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.

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