Understanding Your Pantry, Perfectly

Wondering what to do with that pomegranate molasses, black vinegar, or harissa you bought for that one recipe but have never used again? Help has arrived for neglected items in the back of the cupboard, freezer, or spice shelf. Food writer Lydia Walshin explores the far reaches of the kitchen, one ingredient at a time, on her blog The Perfect Pantry.

This site is a godsend for those of you who—like me—might be wondering what on earth to do with that long-forgotten tin of dry mustard, the half-used package of pilaf noodles, or the bottle of mirin bought for a short-lived frenzy of Japanese cooking but now lingering and lonely.

For those who aren’t quite sure what mirin is—or tamarind, or fenugreek, or epazote—Lydia gives background and history for each ingredient, making the site an enjoyable experience in food education. Not to mention, she’s funny:

In the 1960s, I was in high school, and I was cool. I had long hair, bell-bottom pants, love beads. I listened to Phil Ochs, played guitar, marched for civil rights and against the Vietnam War. … And I smoked oregano. Once. A friend gave it to me as a joke, and we decided to try it. … If I’d been a cook, instead of a trying-to-be-hip high school kid, I would have put that oregano to much better use.

And since each entry includes a recipe for how to use that specific ingredient, I no longer have any excuse to be neglecting my jar of harissa.

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