Autoprompt – What’s In Your Fridge?

PROLOGUE

When I saw the above autoprompt, I wondered, “Who would want to know what’s in my fridge?” Then I remembered, if we go to a party at someone else’s house and use the washroom, we always nose through the medicine cabinet. Hmm, Rogaine and hemorrhoid cream – he’s got problems at both ends. So yeah, you know you wanna know.

Refrigerator

It is said that, the poor eat calories, the middle class eat nutrition, and the rich eat presentation.

Even when I worked in offices after we were first married, we were still only one short half-step up from being living-under-a-bridge poor, so calories were important. I always wanted to eat – well. Later, when I took off the shirt and tie, and donned the blue-collar to work in manufacturing plants, calories were important. The wife watched a lot of TV cooking shows, and bought and read a lot of cookbooks.

The wife of a couple down the street often complained about her husband’s food wants – meat and potatoes, meat and potatoes, seven nights a week. At our house, it was homemade pizza, perogies and potato pancakes, soups, stews and spaghetti, Chinese food, tacos, stroganoff, goulash, tourtière, schnitzel. One time we had menus for seven weeks in advance, with no duplicates.

To make this dizzying array of global dishes requires quite a varied supply of raw materials. This need explains the wife’s 36 place spice rack, and the 24 spot herb rack, with more in the cupboard, and a few growing fresh, on the back deck. Almost everything we have, because of personal preference, allergies and cooking options, we have multiple versions of.

Starting above the stove is a cupboard full of cooking alcohol – red wine for pasta sauce, white for chicken and turkey dishes, Chinese cooking wine, sake for a couple of Japanese recipes, and brandy to soak Christmas cake in. The only stuff that I drink is the occasional bit of Crème de Menthe on crushed ice, when I’ve overindulged in rich food.

Come the apocalypse, the basement storeroom will feed us for three months. Aside from cookies, crackers and canned goods, we have 12 sizes and shapes of pasta and noodles, 2 brands of tomato sauce, plus marinara and Alfredo sauce.

There are usually about 36 two-liter(2-quart) bottles of Pepsi, and ten or twelve 710ml(20 oz.) six-packs. We keep a 30-pack of bottled water ahead, to replace the one in use under the cats’ feeding stand upstairs, and one or two gallons of distilled, as well as a dozen cans of ginger ale.

There are 4 types of rice – long grain for plain white rice, Basmati rice for body, Jasmine rice for sticky rice dishes, and instant Minute Rice. We have all-purpose flour, cake & pastry flour, bread flour, specially-fine-ground blending flour for thickening soups, sauces and gravy, rye flour for making pumpernickel rolls, and spelt flour, which like rye, is not wheat-based, and suitable for the allergic grandson.

Currently there are 20 pounds of Superior, white potatoes for boiled and mashed, 20 pounds of Russets, which make great French fries and potato salad, and 5 pounds of new baby whites in the ‘beer fridge’ for suet roasting and skin-on salad.

Onions include, cooking, Spanish, sweet white, occasionally a red onion, a bag of perishable Vidalias in the fridge, shallots, which like leeks aren’t quite onions, and green onions, in the upstairs fridge, which I’ll get to next post, after we’ve had dinner.

Poor overworked, under-appreciated beer fridge! No actual beer in it, so BrainRants better give me at least 24 hours warning of any surprise visit. Instead, it has 4 varieties of soft drinks, several flavors of coffee creamers and salad dressings there’s no room for upstairs, three dozen eggs, two more dozen pickled, extra bags and blocks of cheeses, and sour cream and margarine, so we don’t run out upstairs.

Besides the onions and baby potatoes, there’s a cabbage and a half, a large broccoli, an extra lettuce and a multi-pack of romaine. It contains the son’s individual yogurts and rice puddings for work meals – and leftovers….Yum! Yum!

A Yankee society doyenne imperiously informed her Georgia plantation-owning host that, “Up north, we think breeding is everything.” He replied, “We like it down here too, but we got other hobbies.” I’ve never run into another home which revolves quite as much around food as ours does. It has to. It can’t escape the gravity well. We read – a lot. We watch some television, and we allow computers to suck our time and insult our intelligence.

If we’re not shopping for food, or storing food away, or cooking food, or eating food, we’re concealing evidence tucking leftover food away, often in the fridge upstairs. Come back next time, when I finally get around to describing its interior, and explain why we had to reinforce the kitchen floor.   🙄

#488

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Food For Thought

We’re famous!  Or, our twin city to the north is….well, at least one old restaurant in it is.  I went to MSN.ca the other day, and there was an article about Harmony Lunch.  Still in its original building on the main street of Waterloo, ON, this eatery has been in business for 83 years, passed from father to son, to grand-daughter.

Opened at the beginning of The Great Depression, it is typical of 1930’s diners, which means that it is very un-typical for it to still be in business.  The heart of its appeal, the thing that got it going then, and keeps it going now, is that, the staple of its menu is pork burgers with fried onions.  The writer of the article said that they were made with ham, but there’s lots of parts of a pig that ain’t ham.

Always cheaper than beef, the patties are made with ground pork.  They are fried by the dozen on an old flat gas grill, right beside the sliced onions which are constantly replaced, and fried all day, in the pork fat, till they are tasty and caramelized.  The place goes though a fifty-pound bag of onions a day, obtained from local Mennonite farmers.  The split buns are given a quick toast at the edge of the grill, and then this delicious concoction is assembled.

Before the son achieved full-time employment, I would take him out for lunch each week I was on afternoons.  A couple of times we wound up here.  Long-time residents of the Twin Cities know about the place, and keep it busy.  It’s an un-liquor-licenced, family restaurant.  Within walking distance of both the Universities, the place doesn’t advertise.  The owner says that many students don’t know that it exists, or head for trendier eateries, but once they get dragged in by friends or family, he sees the same young faces regularly.

The lean, mean automotive world operates on a just-in-time system, and deliveries must be guaranteed.  When I worked at the auto-parts stamping shop, normal problems sometimes caused production delays, which in turn caused Saturday overtime work.  If any of my eight underlings had to work, I was expected to be present to supervise.  As the Purchasing Agent, I couldn’t call anyone, but there was always some paperwork which needed to be cleaned up.

The company president also showed up, and, about ten o’clock would ask each worker how many of these gorgeous Harmony Burgers they wanted for lunch.  Depending on the size of the necessary crew, he would phone in an order for 30 or 40, or 50, and arrange to have them delivered to the plant.  I can’t say that he was a kind, thoughtful, caring boss, just that he was cynical enough to know that he should appear to be.

In one of his how-to-be-an-asshole boss instruction sessions with me, he taught me how to get an unwanted change made.  First you start a rumor about something that’s far worse than what you want to achieve.  Then you let the workers stew about it for a few days.  Tell them on Monday that, the next Monday, when they come to work, you’re going to cut off both their hands and feet.  Let them worry about it on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  On Friday, you tell them, that you’re only going to cut off their left big toe.  They’re so happy that that is all they’re losing, that they go along with it willingly.  What a sweetheart!  I miss him….as much as I possibly can.  Oh yeah, asshole long enough and hard enough equals dead asshole.

I usually had two burgers at the plant, but, at the end of the day, there were inevitably a few left over.  I got to take these home for the wife and kids.  We joke that we can’t take the wife anywhere to eat, because she will figure out how to make the same food as well, or better.  Even though she was born and raised in Waterloo, the wife has never been to Harmony Lunch.  Despite that, based only on the leftovers, she has developed our own version.  I had a leftover one for lunch today before I decided to start this post.

It might not be the Colonel’s 11 herbs and spices, but there’s obviously a recipe for them.  Other than ground pork instead of beef, we mix them as we do regular hamburgers, bread crumbs for filler, an egg for binder, salt, pepper, mesquite powder or liquid for tang, and some Worcestershire Sauce.  They make theirs thin, like a Big Mac single patty.  We make ours twice that thick.

To go with six burgers, for three people, I fry up two Sweet or Spanish onions, as big as melons.  It takes at least an hour and a half to render down a huge frying pan full of raw onion to a soup-bowl full of delicious condiment.  Add some mustard and sweet relish, on a lightly toasted bun, and you’ve I’ve got a meal that’ll stick to my ribs….and a lot of other places on this bowl-full-of-jelly body.

It’s nice to see a local business get some national recognition.  They must be doing something right, to have lasted for 83 years.  I hope that there is another generation to carry on the tradition.  I wish them another 83 years, although my cholesterol levels won’t let me stick around to see it.  It’s a good thing there was only the one burger left at lunch, but now I’m hungry again.  You guys talk among yourselves while I go raid the fridge.