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Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)
A small city kitchen in Boston's South End
Since 2006, food blogging at The Perfect Pantry®, for the first 9 years from my log house kitchen, and now from my city apartment. Publishing e-cookbooks from The Perfect Pantry® kitchen.
Interests: travel, cooking, reading, photography, art (seeing and making), trying to get tomatoes to grow in my herb garden.
Recent Activity
If you have a six-year-old granddaughter who thinks your phone is her personal Game Boy, you'll love these screen cleaners. One side is sticky and adheres to the back of your phone or case; the other side is a microfiber "cloth" that wipes the fingerprints right off your screen. You... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at Lydia Likes It
On my first day as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) conversation group assistant at Project Hope, an agency that serves low-income mothers, I worked with two women in an intermediate-level class. One, from the Dominican Republic, has three young children, and wants to study to become a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 14, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
On the Saturday of my ESOL training (English for Speakers of Other Languages) with the Boston Cares Corps, I arrived at a community center in Dorchester with forty volunteers of all ages and from all backgrounds. We spent the morning in small groups, some focused on English classes, and others... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
Da-da-dum-dum-da-da-da-da-dum-dum-dum. If you were a devotee of The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin's brilliant and prescient television series that had a seven-season run beginning in 1999, you will love The West Wing Weekly. Every week, the podcast dives deep into one episode of the show, beginning with the very first episode... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
When I began to build this volunteering life, I put working with adult literacy at the top of my list. Boston Cares responded to my inquiry about ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) conversation and classroom groups with an invitation to an all-day training program for new ESOL Corps... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
At the women's college I attended, everyone knit, everywhere: in class, in the dorms, at the movies, in the pub. For years after college, I would seek out the most interesting yarns I could find, in local shops or at craft fairs, or while traveling, and I'd make scarves and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 26, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
While I really enjoy drop-in computer lab at the International Institute of New England, my two-hour-a-week obligation doesn't fill me up. I've let the volunteer manager know that I'm interested in doing some classroom assisting in the English for Employment program, but the agency doesn't have any slots available right... Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
Today's most insightful and aggressive political reporting isn't the exclusive domain of The New York Times, or The Washington Post, or NPR or MSNBC. You'll find topnotch political coverage in Teen Vogue, a magazine that feeds a girls-under-21 demographic with a steady diet of fashion, beauty and entertainment content, but... Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
After a month of feeling completely over my head at the drop-in computer lab at the International Institute of New England, I finally realized something. It's okay to not know everything. I'm learning along with the students, and while I can help them with some things, like reading what's on... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
On a recent visit to Washington DC, everyone told me it would be impossible to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the newest gem in the Smithsonian Museum's crown, without having procured passes months earlier. Admission is free (as are all of the Smithsonian museums --... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
In the past, my volunteer activities, mostly in the area of hunger relief, centered on my professional skills as a writer and editor and, to a lesser degree, as a cooking teacher and recipe developer. I always felt on fairly firm ground, confident about what I had to offer. On... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
I am one of the hundreds of thousands of people who, on Cyber Monday, bought an Instant Pot, a multifunction electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and all around miracle gizmo. I'd been using an electric pressure cooker for a couple of years, and a slow cooker... Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
On their web site, the International Institute of New England fit all of my requirements for the perfect volunteer gig. (I can walk to their Chinatown offices, and their primary work involves refugee resettlement, cultural orientation, and English for Employment classes for adult learners.) I filled out an online form... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
If you're a member of a faith group, a school or corporate program, volunteer opportunities often come to you. When you're putting together a volunteering life on your own, it can be more difficult to find your way, so you'll need to approach your search in the same way you... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
In 1884, long before Hillary Clinton, long before Shirley Chisholm, and long before women could vote, Belva Ann Lockwood (1830-1917) was nominated for president of the United States by the National Equal Rights Party. She received 4,000 votes, an astonishing feat considering that only white men were allowed to vote... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
At the end of last year, when I decided to end my food blogging life in order to spend more time volunteering in my community, I thought it would be easy to find my place. At my age, with my experience and available time, I thought I'd be able to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2017 at Lydia Likes It
It proved to be no easy task selecting my favorite recipes from among the more than 2,500 posts on this blog from the past ten years, but I've done it. And I've made a real, hold-in-your-hands, scribble-on-the-pages cookbook for you. It's a quirky selection, to be sure: much more savory than sweet, recipes that my family enjoys and that are good for entertaining and for everyday. Some recipes use the slow cooker or pressure cooker. Some are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free. All are easy to make, with your well-stocked pantry. Some of my favorite recipes appear in my e-books, so they're not in this collection. You can find those books on my author page. Order your copy of The Very Best Recipes From The... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2017 at The Perfect Pantry®
When Jimmy Carter, whose presidency was challenging but whose moral compass always guided him, retired from politics, he became a champion for Habitat for Humanity, continuing to build housing for low-income families well into his 90s. His wife, Rosalynn, worked alongside him, wielding a hammer and leading with grace. When Audrey Hepburn stopped making movies, she shined her light on UNICEF, drawing attention to the world's neediest children as a goodwill ambassador. Sometimes, a person's second act has more impact than the first. The time has come for my own second act. After years of writing and editing for nonprofit organizations, and then food writing, and now food blogging, I'm moving on. Let me explain why, and why now. 1: A few months ago, I... Continue reading
Posted Dec 31, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Are you ready for New Year's Eve? Whether you're hosting a celebration for many, or an intimate affair for two, all you really need is an assortment of some favorite appetizers, the more variety the merrier, and plenty of bubbly. When I'm planning an evening to see in the new year, I look for a mix of vegetarian and other appetizers -- often shrimp, because I love it, and because it's always a special treat, and I love variety. My entertaining mantra: some sweet, some salty, and all finger food. Here are 12 of my most popular party appetizers. Asparagus wonton wraps with hoisin wasabi or mustard filling are fun to make with a crowd. Set up an assembly line on the kitchen counter, and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 27, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
[Even old dogs can learn new tricks, and I've learned to love sweet potato latkes, even though I never ate them when I was growing up. If your family is open-minded, too, please enjoy this recipe (originally shared in 2007) from the archives.] For the most part, I don't believe in "one size fits all," because I am a size and shape that one size never seems to fit. And while in my pantry I have half a dozen types of flour -- surprising, given that I'm a notorious bake-o-phobe -- the one I reach for more often than not is "one size fits all," also known as all-purpose flour. All-purpose flour is a blend of hard (high-protein) and soft (higher carbohydrate, lower protein) wheats,... Continue reading
Posted Dec 20, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
[First published in December 2009, this is our family's go-to latke 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. Please enjoy this post adapted from the archives.] 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... Continue reading
Posted Dec 17, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Asian Noodles: Deliciously Simple Dishes to Twirl, Slurp, and Savor, by Nina Simonds (1997) Why I've kept it: How often have you picked up a cookbook, and wanted to make Every. Single. Recipe. in it? That's what happened to me when I first purchased Nina Simonds' Asian Noodles. I've confessed many times to being a noodle-holic. This book introduced me to new types of noodles, and new condiments and sauces for flavoring them. The gorgeous color photos of each recipe made my mouth water, and convinced me that I could make the recipes with confidence. There's a great introductory chapter about noodle basics, listing dozens of types of Asian noodles and the correct cooking methods, uses, and substitutes for each. There are photos of each... Continue reading
Posted Dec 16, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
[You can never have too many cookie recipes on hand at this time of year, and I've collected some of my all-time favorites. Please enjoy this post from the archives.] 'Tis the season to make merry, and to make cookies. And to swap cookies, and decorate cookies, and pack cookies in tins and send them to friends and family far away. For me, there are only two types of holiday cookies: ones with chocolate, and ones without. Of the hundreds and hundreds of cookie recipes I've seen on food blogs, here are 40 of my favorites. Cookies with chocolate Chocolate spice cookies, from The Perfect Pantry (pictured above) Chocolate ice cream cookies, from The Perfect Pantry Oreo white chocolate pudding peppermint cookies, from Two Peas... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Just when it seems I've fed my husband Ted every imaginable variation of beef stew, I hit on another flavor combination that becomes a new favorite. So it is with this sweet and sour beef stew, made easily in the slow cooker. The seasonings for this stew draw on Moroccan tradition, cinnamon and allspice paired with dried fruit (raisins, though you could substitute dried apricots). Brown sugar boosts the sweetness, and apple cider vinegar provides the sour. Overall, the combination is lighter than my traditional wine-based stew. Carrots and butternut squash are the perfect addition, because they, too, become sweeter with long cooking. Serve the stew over pasta, as we do, or couscous or rice. Like most stews, this one freezes well, and is even... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®
Inspiralized, by Ali Maffucci (2015) Why I've kept it: Did you buy a Spiralizer when it was all the rage a couple of years ago? Do you make zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of spaghetti? Did you know you can turn other vegetables into noodles, like celeriac and rutabaga and beets and chayote? Until I picked up this book, I never made noodles out of anything except zucchini. Inspiralized opened my eyes. The recipes are imaginative, healthy, and visually beautiful, combining colors, textures and the interesting shapes that spiralized vegetables add to the plate. And the notes in the front section provide invaluable tips and techniques for processing different types of vegetables. If you're finally tackling your holiday gift list in earnest, consider this cookbook paired... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2016 at The Perfect Pantry®