« Chili paste with garlic (Recipe: spicy Asian grilled chicken and pasta salad) | Main | Paprika (Recipe: roasted chickpeas with garlic, cumin and paprika) {vegan, gluten-free} »

That was then, this is now, and we are four.

Shish taouk (garlic chicken on skewers), the very first recipe I posted in The Perfect Pantry. 

Yesterday, without a lot of hullaballoo, without one single speck of hullaballoo as a matter of fact, The Perfect Pantry turned four.


Four years of ingredients, new tastes and old favorites. Four years of recipes. A fresh, new design. An improved recipe index. A master list of the more than 250 pantry items that are always on my spice rack and in the cupboards, refrigerator and freezer.

I didn't want to celebrate without you, so now that you're here (thank you for being here), I have a few birthday presents to share. Presents for you, because you are here today and because you have been here, many of you, for four years.

A lot changes in four years, and one of the big changes on this blog is that, because you asked for it, I now photograph the food I cook, instead of only the ingredient that is the subject of the post.

The early posts from 2006 to mid-2008, the ones packed with lots of the information that forms the backbone of The Perfect Pantry, always show you what the ingredient looks like, so you can find it in the market. But what are ingredients without recipes for how to use them? And what are recipes without photos?

Chicken marbella

I don't know if I'll ever get to all of them, but I promise to update a few of those photo-free posts each month. And while I'm at it, I'm checking for links that no longer go anywhere, and fixing other blogging bloopers to make it easier for you to find information and enjoy the recipes.

For my birthday present to you, I've updated four of my favorite posts. I'm not going in any particular order, except that I started at the beginning, the very first post, which features the recipe that launched my food writing career nearly twenty years ago. Garlic chicken on skewers (shish taouk) -- in the photo at the top of this post -- started it all for me, and it seemed like the place to start updating, too.

Skirt steak

While I was poking around in the summer of 2006, I also photographed spicy skirt steak cooked on the grill, and two additional chicken recipes: rice noodle salad with chicken, a perfect light and healthy main course, and chicken marbella. I hadn't made chicken marbella in four years, and after nibbling on the cold leftovers the morning after, I'm putting this dish right back into the rotation for summer entertaining.

Bun gao noodle salad

These four posts -- focusing on allspice, chipotle peppers in adobo, capers and rice vermicelli -- are all from the first few months of The Perfect Pantry, and certainly not everything was perfect back then. It's still not perfect, so please stick around as I learn enough about photography to show you images of food that looks good enough to eat, and easy to cook, with ingredients you already have on hand.

As always, and I say this often because I really mean it, you are the most important ingredient in The Perfect Pantry.

For your encouragement, humor, loyalty, and generous spirit, for sharing your pantry photos, for correcting my typos and double-checking the recipes and adding to our collective knowledge about the ingredients we each collect to form our own perfect pantries, I am deeply grateful.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Congrats on turning 4! Keep up the good work. I'm turning 7 this year, hoping I won't get itchy...

Congrats on Four Years! June is a good month to start a blog!

I know what a chore it is to go back and update old posts when all you want to do is move forward. But 4 years of quality content should not fade away. It should be polished up and brought to the forefront, lest it be forgotten!

Congratulations on such a milestone! Thank you for all your hard work.

Happy Birthday!!!!! I have said it before and I will say again, Perfect pantry is the best of them all, the recipes are elegantly simple, always delicious and the author is in tune and responsive to her readers. Can't beat that with a toothpick!

may the next year be filled with all things grand and amazing

Happy Birthday! Thanks for all the work that you put into you're blog(s). I don't know how you do it! But, we appreciate everything that you share with us. In fact, I just picked up a bottle of Lan Chi chili paste w/garlic (at Wholefoods/Cranston RI)and can't wait to try the Asian Grilled chicken salad recipe. Would have never got to adding that to "my pantry" without you. Thanx again!

Mary Beth

Happy Birthday to The Perfect Pantry and wishing you many many years of happy blogging. Thank you for sharing your wealth of information, humor and wisdom with us!

Congrats Lydia...next year is five and then your blog will reach ten in no time!

Yay, Happy Birthday! I swear, you don't look a day over 3.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! I can't remember how I found you or when, but your site is the very BEST! I have butted in and told people in the grocery line about you, when I see something you have given us information about!! Keep it up!! Would love to get back east and see your wonderful home roots. How about a pic of your pantry pantries!!

May you blog til a hundred twenty!


Congratulations on four wonderful years! I've been reading your informative posts for at least three years and always appreciate when you give us something new to try. Cheers, and here's to many more years of The Perfect Pantry!

Happy blog birthday!

Congratulations Lydia - four years have whizzed by and as you continue to morph you keep it fresh. The Marbella photo is the best! I have often thought of serving it to my guests and you have pushed me over the edge. To many more years of pleasing your public!

Congratulations on a job well done! Readers know when they come to The Perfect Pantry they get well-informed, tasty, visually attractive and pithy posts.

I have only just started getting your newsletter. I LOVE the pantry pictures. They have motivated me to work on my own pantry and sort out all my stuff. Thanks!

Happy Birthday! The love, work, and care that you put into your blog shines from every post. The warmth of tone makes me feel as if we are all sitting around your kitchen table talking food! Thank you for the recipes, conversations, and ideas that have enriched my cooking life.

Super Congrats! 4 years is like a lifetime in the blogging world.

Nice work. Here's to the next four!

Happy Birthday, Lydia and the Perfect Pantry. You have been a favorite part of my life, and important in my kitchen. Thanks for every word you write!

Congratulations! I've enjoyed reading (and re-reading) the blog everyday and looking forward to all the blogs to come.

Happy birthday! I stand in awe.

Four years of great stuff!!! I thank you.

Blog years must be like dog years. At four years old, Perfect Pantry has the grace and wisdom of someone much older. Seems like I've been reading here and learning here for a long time. Thanks!

Four years is certainly a milestone worth celebrating Lydia. Congratulations. Love the new look, the new photos and the delicious recipes. Keep up the good work:D

Happy birthday!

Happy Birthday!
How wonderfull....4 years!!!
Because of your "pantry items" we are now hooked on Bustelo! I love all your recipes! I'm always looking in your archives for detailed info on pantry staples.
Thank you!

Congratulations! And I'm going to certainly check out some of the Perfect Pantry's first posts!

Congratulations on turning 4! I am very new to your blog and so far I just love it. I love seeing the pantry pictures as well as discovering new ingredients and/or ways to use the ones I already have. Here's to the next 4! :)

Wonderful! Happy Blog B-day! The Perfect Pantry is an incredible resource for those of us cooking from scratch. Thank you for four years of culinary insight and inspiration.

Happy Birthday and congratulations on four years of giving pleasure and information to all of us. It was a fortunate day when I stumbled onto your blog and I am grateful each time I read it.

Thanks, Lydia and may you blog on for many years to come.

Happy Blog Birthday, Lydia! May your generosity and professionalism be rewarded many many times over ...

Congrats on 4 years!

I remember how much I loved your blog right from the first time I discovered it, and still do. These photos are all making me drool, and The Perfect Pantry just keeps getting better and better. Thanks for all the things you've taught me about certain ingredients, and here's to many more years of good food.

Congrats, Lydia! to a wonderful food blog that is educational, and that gives the readers the feeling that they too participate in the whole process. Keep going....

Congratulations on turning 4! I am so glad I stumbled across your blog some... I'm guessing it's close to a year ago now. I have found inspiration in your recipes and your photos are always mouth-watering.

I have been meaning to send in to Other people's pantry as it's such a great feature but my photos never turn out worthy to be shared with anyone. I'll give it another go, would hate to see you run out of pantries.

All the best and good luck! Hope you're still here for at least another 4 years.

YAY! Congrats on much well-deserved longevity!!!

Hi & "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" to you and yours (blog)! You just informed me of how long I've come to know you (& your blog) "4 Years"...it's been great learning and sharing info. I've learned a lot over the years and I "THANK YOU" for the fun along the way.

To one of my absolute favorite bloggers out there. You paved the way, my dear. Thanks for all you do and for the great content and beautiful pictures you provide!

Wow, Four Years! Congratulations! I just came across you blog by chance...will definitely check on you :-)

You deserve a whole lot of hullabaloo! Many congrats to you, Lydia - I hope to continue enjoying your posts for many years to come.

happy, happy birthday! wishing this blog many more! ;-)


Happy 4th Birthday! Thanks for sharing all your wonderful knowledge and cooking talents with your readers.

Congratulations Lydia!! Four years down and many more to come. Your blog, your pantry, your ingredients and your recipes and YOU are such an inspiration to me.
All my best to you - Christine

Congrats, Lydia! Your blog is always a source of inspiration :)

I am in California, so I am not late to wish your wonderful blog a happy birthday:)
You have inspired me to keep my pantry organized and well-stocked; you have helped me start using food to help someone out; and the best of all, the recipes of yours that I tried received all thumbs up. To many more years to come!

I am shameless. There are few occasions when I get to be the youger one. And I will take advantage of any opportunity to point it out when it happens. The blogosphere is no exception... I am exactly 3 years and 1 day younger than you! I can only dream of still going strong at 4 like you are. Happy Birthday!

I enjoy your blog (your recipes AND your entertaining writing AND your mouth-watering photos) very much. You have us all chomping at the bit, wondering what is going to follow "Other People's Pantries!"

Happy Fourth Year Milepost! I look forward to each new installment at the Perfect Pantry. You do such a great job for all of us. I just realized that I have had a jar of chili paste with garlic for ??? years and didn't really know what to do with it! Now I know!

It is wonderful having you around for all these years, darling! You were one of the first bloggers that started visiting me and for that I am forever thankful, Lydia. You are sweet and kind and generous and lovely.


Wow, congratulations!!!!!

I feel like a REAL baby, having turned one today (as you know... ;-)

I look forward to many many more years of your great articles and recipes (by the way, I have your turkey meatballs almost ready to blog about... )

Thanks to all for stopping by to leave such lovely blog birthday greetings!

Happy four years!!!

Happy Anniversary Lydia!

Happiest of happy birthdays to one of my very favorite blogs! Congrats, Lydia... I can't wait to see what great things the next year brings!

Happy Belated!!
(have been sick for a week - but much better now and nothing beats tonsillitis like Chili paste with garlic!!)

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.