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March 10, 2011

REMIX: Cinnamon (recipes, stories and sources in The Perfect Pantry)

Greek yogurt parfait

In the best democracies, people enjoy freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom of expression.

My spice rack operates on the same principles. In fact, I'd venture to say it's the ultimate democracy. Except for salt and pepper, which have an assigned easy-to-grab-without-looking place on the shelf, everything else is free to hang out wherever, and with whatever, it wishes.

A spice like cinnamon needs its freedom. Some days, it wants to cuddle up with its baking friends, nutmeg and cloves and ginger. Other days, it prefers the company of the savories: paprika, turmeric, pepper.

No matter where it goes, I can always find it. I buy spices in bulk and transfer them to recycled jars of all shapes and sizes, from mustards and marmalades and mayonnaise. Cinnamon has its own uniquely-shaped jar with little winglets, from some fancy French condiment we received as a gift, so it stands out, wherever it is. The spice is a standout, too.

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March 3, 2011

REMIX: Coconut milk (recipes, stories and sources in The Perfect Pantry)

Red curry tofu

My first encounter with real coconut milk involved neither can nor can opener.

Though my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I have traveled to many places where coconut milk features in the local food, it wasn't until we stayed at Kathleen's house, in the Afro-Caribbean community of Arima, Trinidad, that I learned how to make, and cook with, coconut milk. Kathleen made everything from scratch in her tiny kitchen, including smashing coconuts with a hammer on the ground outside the front door, and pressing the meat to extract the milk.

Hairy brown coconuts don't grow on trees here in Rhode Island, but many markets do sell them. Still, making coconut milk is a bit labor-intensive, so I keep a few cans in the pantry.

Don't tell Kathleen.

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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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