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Cooking from my Rhode Island pantry, and a new cookbook

Rhode Island Recipes, a new cookbook featuring favorite culinary souvenirs.

My husband Ted and I came to Rhode Island as part-timers thirteen years ago. We bought a log house on a small bit of land, with woods and grass and so-many-critters. The list of things we didn't know stretched most of the way back to Boston: how to keep chipmunks out of the vegetable garden; how to get rid of stink bugs without crushing the vile odor out of them; how to pronounce town names like Coventry (it's car-ven-try, for some reason we still haven't figured out).

Our food vocabulary expanded, too, as we were introduced to stuffies, cabinets, johnnycakes and doughboys, some of the most well-known Rhode Island specialties.

And then, lucky me, I was hired to write about food for Rhode Island Monthly magazine. I traveled from one corner of the state to another, meeting with farmers, food activists, and restaurant folks, telling their stories and tasting their food. I discovered a whole world beyond the traditional sweet dishes Little Rhody seems to love so much.

Whole wheat meatball pizza, the most "Rhode Island" recipe in the cookbook. The pizza made the cut, but this photo didn't.

Since those days, I've added many Rhode Island-made products to The Perfect Pantry. I'd never be without Cowboy Ketchup, Dave's All Natural Coffee Syrup, Wicked Natural Caramel Mustard, or Chepachet Farms maple syrup, made at a farm up the road from my house. Whenever I see something new in the grocery store or at the farmer's market, or in the gift shop at the airport, I give it a try.

It turns out that another Rhode Island food blogger, Jennifer Leal of Savor the Thyme, does the same thing. When I suggested to her that we put together a cookbook celebrating these culinary souvenirs in healthy, family-friendly, and sometimes unexpected recipes, she instantly agreed.

And that's how Rhode Island Recipes: Creative, healthy cooking with iconic local foods was born.

Misquamicut Beach, on a windy April day.

We made lists of our favorite iconic local products, chose the ones we wanted to include in the book (and there are many more, so we're already thinking of a second volume), pooled some of our published recipes, and created new dishes specifically for the cookbook. The companies represented did not know about the project until the book was published a couple of weeks ago.

The thirty recipes span the menu from appetizer to dessert (yes, of course there's dessert), and though they call for some of our local foods, each recipe includes suggested substitutions so you can use your favorite ingredients. We hope you'll buy the authentic Rhode Island foods, either online or while you're visiting, but you can make these recipes at home, even if your home isn't here in the Ocean State.

We're proud of our local foods, and we're particularly proud of Rhode Island Recipes.

Please visit www.rhodeislandrecipes.com to learn more about the book, get the backstory, meet the farmers and food producers, and order the softcover print or e-book version (for Kindle, iPad, Sony and more).

As we say around here, the book would make a "wicked good" gift, or a fun addition to your own cookbook library.

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.


How exciting Lydia. Congratulations on all your success.

Bellini, thanks so much. We're hoping to help promote some of Rhode Island's wonderful culinary souvenirs to visitors, expats and residents. There is such great food here!

This new book is going to be such an amazing success, Lydia. Anyone visiting Rhode Island or moving in is going to want to snag a copy, and the rest of us will, too. It's terrific that you and Jennifer teamed up on this book!


Shirley, thanks. We think it will be fun for visitors and residents alike.

Great news, Lydia! May your sales break records. ;-)

That cover looks good enough to eat! Congratulations -- lucky RI!

Heartfelt congratulations, Lydia! I'll be buying the kindle version and am looking forward to fun reading!

I am loving the book and can't wait to come to Rhode Island again and try some of these things!

Congrats Lydia!!!! I am a big fan of regional favorites :)

Congratulations! And lucky you to be in such a wonderful area. I had no idea there were so many local specialties and how fun to be able to explore them all.

Susan, you've made my day!

Christine, so grateful for your support.

Kalyn, we will have to create some SBD-friendly Rhode Island dishes (maybe that's Volume 2?!).

Alyssa, thanks so much. I'm a fan, too, and always bring food home from my travels.

Katie, until I moved to Rhode Island, I thought all anyone ate here was clams!

Jean, that would make us smile!

Thrilled and so proud of this book Lydia. Plus, working with you has been an honor.

Jen, thanks. We make a good team.

I have already been enjoying the cookbook, which came 3 days ago. I will be searching for New Mexico substitutions for a few ingredients. Yogurt is a cinch, but what do I do for Del's Light Lemonade Mix? Thanks, Lydia and Jennnifer, for a great new cookbook!

Candy, thanks so much for buying the book, and I'm so glad you're enjoying it. For the Del's, substitute any powdered lemonade mix. And imagine yourself on a beach in Rhode Island!

Congratulations my friends, this book will be wonderful :D


Great news! Many many congratulations. I'm wondering if I'd be able to find Greek substitutions! I'll go explore the website. Well done, and I hope it's a great success.

CONGRATS! I Love a local focus! I will be ordering my copy asap!!

CCU, hope you like it.

Eleni, I can help with finding substitutions. There's always some local product that will work!

Carol, I'm one of those people who buys cookbooks wherever I go.

What a wonderful experience you've had and continue to have in your new state. It looks terrific and sounds like a great read--I love hearing about each state's idiosyncrasies (did you know that Buena Vista in Virginia is pronounced Byoo-na Vis-ta?) as I live around the country.


Kirsten, I didn't even know there's a Buena Vista in Virginia. Rhode Island, for its small size, must have more than its share of idiosyncracies, and only some of them have to do with food.

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