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SMORGASBORD: Pantry raid . . . "The Way to Cook" . . . Chiplets Ahoy!

Pantry raid Assembling canned or frozen ingredients into a quick supper won't earn you "serious cook" credentials. Then again, a well-stocked pantry (with some help from the freezer and produce bin) is a lifesaver for busy days. Here are two idea...

'The Way to Cook'
Hand it to Julia Child: She was an innovator when it came to getting the "why" of food out to the public. (McClatchy Tribune)

Pantry raid

Assembling canned or frozen ingredients into a quick supper won't earn you "serious cook" credentials. Then again, a well-stocked pantry (with some help from the freezer and produce bin) is a lifesaver for busy days. Here are two ideas.

-- Veggie chili: Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a soup pot with 1 cup each: coarsely chopped onions, red pepper, green pepper and mushrooms. Add 2 cloves garlic, minced. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes over medium heat. Add drained pinto, kidney and/or black beans, a large can of crushed tomatoes and 1 cup each: water and frozen corn. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour; add water if needed. Top with shredded cheese and chopped green onions. Makes 12 cups.

-- Corn chowder: Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot with ยฝ cup minced onion and 1 cup each: chopped mushrooms and zucchini; cook 2 minutes over medium heat. Add a can of creamed corn, 1 cup chicken broth and 1 cup chopped, cooked chicken; season with salt and pepper. Simmer 30 minutes. Top with chopped green onions. Makes 8 cups.

'The Way to Cook'

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Hand it to Julia Child: She was an innovator when it came to getting the "why" of food out to the public.

No medium or method was too far-fetched or high-tech.

That's why it seems so fitting to find Child's 1985 six-part video series "The Way to Cook" now re-released as a two-DVD set ($24.95, at amazon.com and other retail outlets).

Now, some five years after her death at age 91 and after 2009's movie, "Julie & Julia" highlighted her life, one now can watch "The French Chef" do her thing on a laptop just about anywhere in the world. She would have liked that.

There is something of an of-the-moment feel to the segments, a quality one can find often today, with all those home-grown video clips on the Web where a man or a woman faces a camera and does his or her thing.

What also shines forth on these DVDs is Child's practical approach to cooking, her belief that mastering one technique or one basic recipe would lead to other skills and other delectable dishes.

Chiplets Ahoy!

New from Nabisco are 100-calorie-pack Chips Ahoy! Fudge Drizzled Cookies. This is a different product from the existing 100-calorie-pack Chips Ahoy! Thin Crisps, which are so different from regular Chips Ahoy! that they hardly seem to be cookies. The new items are tiny (not much more than an inch across), and not much like regular Chips Ahoy!, but at least are clearly cookies. And they cost almost three times as much per ounce. (Two real Chips Ahoy! cookies are about 110 calories.)

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