Post-Consumer Pantry

Olive oil is one of those slippery beasts that spans all price ranges. Middle-of-the-road olive oil will get the job done, but there's nothing quite like a drizzle of high-end extra virgin to make bread, salads and vegetables come to life. White vinegar doesn't vary quite as much, but tasty, high-quality vinegar gives sour foods a complexity that can't be matched.

If you have a bottle of ho-hum olive oil or vinegar in the cupboard, spruce it up by infusing it with herbs, spices or chili peppers. This month we share two simple recipes for rosemary-infused olive oil and Thai chili vinegar. Drizzle rosemary oil on potatoes, fish or bruschetta for a mellow, Italian flavor. A splash of chili vinegar spices up stir fry, makes a great tofu marinade and adds a kick to cucumber salad.

The process is easy; if you can pour liquid into a saucepan, you're already an expert. All you need is a couple of minutes and two beautiful bottles. Small Terrain in West Asheville has a stunning collection of glass vessels and stoppers that will make you say, "Pass the olive oil, please."

Rosemary olive oil

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1.5 cups extra virgin olive oil (or however much your bottle holds)
1 sterilized glass bottle and cork

1. Wash the rosemary thoroughly and let dry over night. Make sure it's completely dry or the moisture can attract bacteria.
2. Warm olive oil in a small sauce pan. Do not boil. Let cool to room temperature.
3. Place rosemary sprigs in the bottle.
4. Pour olive oil over rosemary.
5. Let cool completely and cork.

Store in a cool, dark place for one week and enjoy for the next few months.


Thai chili vinegar

10-15 whole dried Thai chilies
1.5 cups white vinegar (or however much your bottle holds)
1 sterilized glass bottle and cork

1. Boil vinegar in a small sauce pan.
2. Add chilies and remove from heat.
3. Cover and cool to room temperature.
4. Pour vinegar and chilies into the bottle and cork.

Store in the refrigerator for one week and taste. Remove the chili peppers if it gets too spicy. Keeps for several months.

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