What’s in my refrigerator?

I know very little about cooking in comparison to vast knowledge available to the average person in regards to the culinary arts. I can fry an egg. That is the pretty humbling extent of my cooking awareness.

But in my own self-proclaimed authority on the kitchen, cooking and spontaneous meal preparation, I have noticed that there are things you always need. And there is a proper way to store those things so they last indefinitely or are used before they have an unforeseen rendezvous with the trashcan (stomach>hefty bag).

The one question I always find myself asking a cook is “what do you keep on hand in your fridge?”. My grandmother would say, “whole milk. Margaret, never run out of whole milk”. I read an article recently where Martha Stewart claimed stocking various kinds of bottled water in her behemoth of a fridge  was essential to entertaining well, “It’s what the guests want”. Intuitive, Martha, very intuitive.

What you keep in your fridge is personal, like your medicine cabinet. People and families are different. Large, small, north, south, midwestern, organic, nonorganic, gluten-free, vegetarian. The combinations for a list of staple provisions is endless, so my fridge is not a rule maker. It’s simply a guide that other single, 20-something southern women with an strong appreciation for dijonaise might find resourceful.

So here’s what I’m keeping in my very non-industrial tiny kenmore of a fridge and a few tips for keeping it fresh:

1. The top shelf.

  • Brita (the environmentally conscious way to enjoy your recommended 8 glasses of water a day).
  • Tomatoes (see the section on the crisper drawer for the reasoning behind their permanent home on the top shelf). One should always have tomatoes on hand, they are a perfect for a quick bruschetta, a pico that will set homemade tacos apart from all others, and the BLT.   God Bless the BLT, Amen.
  • Half and Half. This is my preference to whole milk because I like in coffee and mashed potatoes. The avid baker should add whole milk, heavy cream and whipping cream to this list.
  • Greek Yogurt. No, not those ridiculous pre-made cups where you can’t control the add ins, but the giant tub. Greek Yogurt is my go to ingredient right now. French Lemon Cake, Chicken Salad, Taziki for those nights your feeling Mediterranean, greek yogurt is so versatile and deliciously tangy.

2. Middle shelf.

  • Fruit for snacking
  • Leftovers, always left overs. Everyone can’t create a work of culinary genius every night of the week.
  • Bread. I like to keep my bread in the fridge to increase its shelf life, particularly in the summer, because what one person can eat an entire loaf in a week or less??! A good french loaf (ham and swiss), cheese loaf (with poached eggs) or a stand-by whole grain (peanut butter jelly, duh).

3. The bottom shelf

  • Broth (vegetable, beef, or chicken, but usually vegetable). I use broth to boil pasta, in soups,  for risotto (exclusively) because its an added flavor layer that water just can’t provide. Using broth will set you apart from all those other people trying to show you up at potlucks.
  • Ultra Pasteurized Milk, Organic, 1%. 1% milk is delicious, not thick like whole milk, but a little sweeter than skim. Perfect for oatmeals, Chai tea and baking. Long shelf life because again, who can consume a whole gallon in one week? Money’s in the milk, so don’t be throwing it out.
  • San Pelligrino. The best of the bottled carbonated waters. Add it to lemonade in the summer.
  • Free range eggs.  The egg is the most affordable protein you can purchase and possibly the most versatile base ingredient in the kitchen. Keep your eggs fresh. If you are in the last week before they expire they should only be used for baking. It you crack open a goopy egg, toss it and quickly replenish your egg stash. One last word to leave you with on eggs: hollandaise. Oh, my soul.
  • Unsalted butter. Unsalted, because most recipes  containing butter (especially in baking) call for unsalted.
  • DIJON MUSTARD. Oh the spicy richness of this severely underrated condiment. Use on a sandwich, to make a quick dressing, as a marinade.

4. The Crisper Drawer. Next to nothing. The crisper drawer is where tenderly raised organic vegetables that tore through half of your grocery budget go to die a slow, rotting, pitiful death. I only put in the crisper items I have intentional plans for, i.e. they will be cooked at a dinner party in 4 hours. Simply put, out of sight, out of mind.  Make it a habit to store your vegetables on the shelf where you can see them. Your wallet and your waist line will  be forever grateful.

5. The door. Salad dressing and mayonnaise and not an item more. See #4.

What’s in your fridge always should be seasonal, fresh, and worthy of fridge space. Fridges are small, and so is your stomach by the way. Don’t pack it out with things you will never eat or that will go there to die and then be buried in the trash.

And remember that everything you put in your fridge is perishable, so check the dates every once and awhile, okay?

 

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Alabama Shakes

 

“I recently bought me a Mercury Marquis, but I call it a Chevy, ’cause that’s as close as I’m gonna get right now, we’ll see about it,” lead singer of the Alabama Shakes, Brittany Howard, exclaimed before her band played their final electric number at iconic venue “Stubb’s” in Austin, Texas last October.

Brittany, I think you’re gonna get all the chevys your old, soulful heart could desire.

Alabama Shakes came on the scene in 2009, after Brittany pulled together a hodge podge group of musicians in her small home town and started experimenting. After learning material from bands like AC/DC, James Brown and Rage Against the Machine, Alabama Shakes “forged” what is quickly becoming the sound of soul for our generation.

1962 had Otis Redding, 2012 has Brittany Howard.

The quick recognition of the Alabama Shakes has happened naturally, the way music was intended to be discovered, in small regional clubs, with mixed audiences that became die hard fans overnight. This talented, yet surprisingly normal, set of musicians has shed light on the genre of soul music which most musicians only dream of reproducing, never the less innovating. The Alabama Shakes are giving the Rhythm and Blues a long over due face lift.

Nothing about the Alabama Shakes is eye-catching and people immediately love their non-suspect nature. In atypical Juno fashion, Brittany “rocks a Harmony” and wears glasses while performing. You’ll catch their lead guitarist Heath Fogg in a Northface Jacket. They don’t need to be styled, and the last time I checked, the blues wasn’t about being pretty.

Their aged lyrics and full sound rock a person at his or her core. What is there to scrutinize about a woman who picks up a guitar and lays down riff after riff like she was owning lead? Simply put, nothing. Her voice smolders like a smoking lullaby that puts bees to sleep, laced with soulful runs that work on the ears like pheromones.

The Alabama Shakes first full length album, “Boys and Girls” is available now on iTunes and Amazon and is sure not to disappoint.

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Dear Future Baby,

Dear Future Baby,

I like to spend a little free time every week reading lifestyle blogs. Apparently, having a baby is a very trendy thing to do. And did you know that if you have a trendy baby, people will pay you to sit at home in your pajamas and write about it so you can be stalked en masse  by countless googly-eyed, twenty-somethin’ women? See exhibits A and B.

 

 

Future baby, I just don’t see this happening for me and you. We’re probably going to live a very simple life in the bustling metropolis of Winston-Salem.

While reading this blogs I have realized a few things that I want for you and me, particularly for you. First, a name that suites your gender, is easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and meets the other following additional criteria:

Nothing unisex. Not Kelly, or Cameron or Casey or Kelsy or Aaron/Erin. These have always confused me.

Nothing off the current top 10 baby names list. Were sticking to something strong and biblical, like Isaac or Elizabeth.

Nothing that would insinuate I named you after a movie star, TV show character or day-time talk show host. Yep, by narrow escape baby, you’re missing out on being called Kathy-Lee, or better yet, Hoda. You can thank me later.

I promise not to name you after a season, fruit, day of the week, month of the year or precious gem stone.

 

Future Baby, while you’re cooking inside of me, I promise to do the opposite of what all these trendy bloggin’ moms do, or at least display that they do, in way of eating and exercising. I hate the gym, I particularly hate sweating, but I’ll go every day and get on the elliptical so that when its time for you to get here you’re not waiting on momma to get her act together so she can push you out. I’ve never seen one of those bloggin’ moms in sweats at the gym, but I have seen them at parties eating  a lot of cake. I promise to lay off the cake, go to bed early and drink lots of milk. We’re going to start our bonding really early, so I’m going to talk to you while you’re in there, at the risk of sounding crazy. And we’re going to listen to lots of Chris Thile and Allison Krauss.

After you are born, I’m going to take lots of pictures. You’re going to want them later in life. But I also commit to let you have your little baby privacy. We’ll turn the camera off while we’re at the pediatrician, during your naked stage as a toddler, and while your potty training. I also promise not to publish pictures of you like a commodity on the internet. We’ll go down to the Walgreen’s and get tons of prints made, which we will send to our dearest friends and family in the snail mail.

Now your clothes. The only promise I can make here is to never put you in anything smocked, especially if you are a boy. The only exception I will make to this is your baby dedication outfit, because I am confident there is a law stating all baby dedication outfits must have smocking. I’ll try my best to dress you like the child that you are and not an Italian male model.

I promise to treat you like my child, and not a novelty. I think if we stick to that, we’re going to have tons of imperfect fun wearing danskos and target onesies. No designer smocking necessary.

 

Love,

Future Momma

 

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weekend perfect.

Saturday:

breakfast in bed til 12.

propped open storm door for the first time.

swiffin’

lots of Ryan Bingham on Spotify.

tri-date with mom and pops.

bechamel lasagna.

Sunday:

2nd graders and playdough.

sweet gentle reminder that I am a child of God, no longer a child of wrath.

camino and almond horns.

chili.

brownies.

french press.

conversation.

snow.

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saturday morning.

“The four most beautiful words in the English language: you wore me down.”

-Tom Haverford

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Belated valentines gift to you!

A music mix, for you, dear friends. 

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new home.


As of January, my little work in progress and space to my own. Here’s a sneak peak of the fun things happening here.

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