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February 6, 2014

Instant couscous (Recipe: sweet couscous for a crowd) {vegetarian}

Originally published in August 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos and links. The recipe -- so simple, I feel funny calling it a recipe -- is something I've been making for decades. It's a perfect accompaniment to spicy chicken or vegetable stews.

Sweet couscous with raisins and pine nuts (The Perfect Pantry).

Last winter, I treated my kitchen to a couscoussier, a double-decker pot used to create traditional Moroccan stews and couscous. The stew goes in the bottom, and rising steam infuses and plumps the couscous resting in the perforated top compartment.

It's a beautiful thing, but I have yet to use it.

I tried. I really did. My cooking group made a menu called Preserving the Lemon, which included three dishes inspired by Moroccan cuisine. We used our tagines, but when it came time to set up the couscoussier — and start the slow process of rinsing, drying, steaming and steaming again — we looked at each other and, in unison, said, "Instant couscous!"

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February 2, 2014

Hot sauce (Recipe: smoky brown rice and lentils) {vegan, gluten-free}

Originally published in November 2006, this updated ingredient post features new photos, links, and tweaks to the recipe. To me, lentils plus brown rice equals comfort food. Use your favorite store-bought or homemade smoky barbecue sauce; I love Rhode Island's own Cowboy Ketchup, gluten-free and not too spicy. Serve this vegan combination as a side dish, or a Meatless Monday main dish with a side salad.

Smoky brown rice and lentils for Meatless Mondays (The Perfect Pantry).

For as long as I can remember, I've had a bottle of Tabasco hot sauce in my pantry.

For many years, it was the same bottle. I used to buy the little two-ounce supermarket standard, and those two ounces would sit on the shelf for a few years, until the sauce turned brown and gunky. I'd throw it out, and buy another little bottle, and start the cycle all over again. No matter what a recipe called for, I never used more than a drop at a time. Sometimes I just left out the hot sauce altogether. I was afraid of the heat.

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December 3, 2013

Peanut oil (Recipe: latkes/potato pancakes) {vegetarian}

First published in December 2009, this updated ingredient post features new links and tweaks to the recipe. Even though we associate latkes with Chanukah, they're a crowd pleaser at any time of year. Make small ones for your Sunday football parties, or large ones for a vegetarian dinner main dish. Kids love latkes smothered with sour cream or apple sauce.

Latkes (potato pancakes): appetizer, side dish, or main course.

Rudolf Diesel had a dream.

When the German inventor and Utopian idealist demonstrated his new engine at the 1900 Paris World Exposition, it ran not on petroleum, but on peanut oil.   

In the perfect world, Diesel believed, renewable biofuels like peanut oil could power farm machinery and automobiles. In our imperfect world, my car still drinks gasoline, but peanut oil powers my frying.

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November 24, 2013

Sophie's noodle kugel recipe {vegetarian}

Noodle kugel, for any holiday celebration.

Judy, a longtime reader who lives in the Philadelphia area, sent me a favorite recipe for her grandmother's noodle kugel, a casserole my own grandmother used to make. I loved the note Judy wrote with the recipe, and she graciously allowed me to share it, and the recipe, with you. In the year of the Thanksgiving and Chanukah convergence, this noodle dish is a perfect addition to the holiday table, no matter which holiday you're celebrating this week:

My grandmother Sophie, who lived to be 98 years old, was an amazing cook. She spent a number of years in the 1930s and 1940s running the kitchen of a "resort" for union workers, and she never really adjusted her recipes to cook for just a few people (a tradition I seem to have continued). Grandma didn't wrote down her recipes, so I would cook with her and write down the ingredients and measurements as best I could.

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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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