What’s Finally In Your Fridge?

Open fridge

When last we left our husky hero, he was grazing his way through Kansas the basement storeroom. Now is time for him to finally reveal What Evil Lurks In The Heart Of AMANA. Boowahaha….hack, hack!? Stand back! I don’t want anyone crushed when I open this door.

Poor refrigerator, it seems to go in cycles, always busy, but there are days when you can open the door and get an echo. A week later, if I threw a cup of water at it, all but a few drops would splash back on the floor, it’s so jammed with leftovers put-asides. ‘Leftovers’ has a poor connotation; these are intentional, and good.

As downstairs, almost everything in the upstairs fridge comes in multiple versions. There are two 2-liter jugs of iced tea. The three of us drink more than one per day, so there’s always another one chilling. There’s my morning orange juice, but because the wife’s allergic, she has serially gone through cranberry juice, apple juice, the iced tea, and now is drinking mango juice.

Among the condiments we have regular ketchup and my Hot and Spicy ketchup, yellow mustard, and Dijon. (We can’t afford Grey Poupon.) There’s sweet relish, and dill, the wife’s mayonnaise and my Miracle Whip, white vinegar and malt, soya sauce and Tamari, which is spicy like soya, but with less caramel for lighter colored foods and less burning when cooked. .

The shelves are jammed with lemon juice, lime juice for Tex-Mex, coconut oil, Indian ghee, which is a clarified cooking butter, HP sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, hot chili-garlic sauce, Tabasco sauce and Chipotle Tabasco, sandwich spread, Sriracha, chili sauce, salad dressings, chopped garlic, shredded garlic and shredded ginger, maple syrup, stuffed olives, sliced pizza olives, and two different Diana sauces.

We stock store-bought sweet pickles and gherkins, and homemade dill pickles in snacking quarters, and slices for burgers and sandwiches. The wife likes artichoke hearts, the liquid from which she sometimes uses as a salad dressing, adding a dash of lemon juice and salt, and we keep both margarine and butter for cooking and spreading.

There’s 4 kinds of fruit in the fruit drawer, and 6 different vegetables in the vegetable drawer, including zucchini, which the wife fries with olive oil & garlic salt and tops with shredded cheese. Milk includes 3% homo, my chocolate milk, the wife’s non-dairy Coffee-Rich cooking substitute, and buttermilk to make pancakes and waffles. The son and I eat regular sour cream, while the wife uses the more expensive, lactose-free.

CHEESE! Oh Dear Lord, cheese! We always had cheese, but now that we’re getting older, the wife ensures that there’s lots of cheese to assist my chocolate milk to fight off osteoporosis.

Fasten your seat belt! – The son’s cheddar cheese-string sticks, the wife’s mozzarella sticks, Kraft Singles sandwich slices, Havarti slices, a bag of shredded TexMex, a bag of grated Parmesan for pasta and homemade Caesar dressing. In blocks, we have smoked Parmesan for special dishes, Emmenthaler, the son’s Gruyere, cheddar, the wife’s goat-milk Kashkaval, which she puts on the fried zucchini, Monterey Jack, occasionally mozzarella, which I take from the freezer, to thaw for lasagna, pizza or French onion soup, and Edam, for family-gathering hors d’oeuvres. Oh, and don’t forget the flavored cream cheese spread, the jar of Cheeze-Whiz, and the jar of salsa con queso, which I dollop on my nachos.

Behind the leftovers on the top shelf, hide two or three flavors of homemade jam – red currant from our own bush, strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry, or spiced peach. Tired of putting it on toast? Mix a little boiling water, and they make excellent pancake/waffle toppings. Up there are also horseradish, beet relish, which is 50/50 horseradish and grated, cooked beets, and goes great on ham, pickled ginger, and a soup can full of salvaged bacon fat that we use to fry French toast, or make a roux for gravy.

The son works midnights, and doesn’t take the evening meal with us. He eats at 4:00 AM. The wife and I prepare a recipe that was set up when we had two healthy teenagers. Now she and I take what we want, and fill a Ziploc container for the son. Sometimes he has two or three ahead in the fridge.

Tupperware

Occasionally we pack some up for the daughter, especially tomato-based dishes, because her son is allergic to them, for days when her mobility disability keeps her from cooking. Thank the heavens for microwaves. Tupperware was handy but expensive. Now Ziploc and Glad containers are here. If you melt one a bit, it’s quick and cheap to replace.

After we’ve supplied the son and daughter, anything left goes in smaller amounts for future lunches. No longer just sandwiches – unless you want one. We freeze fresh bread, and never put out more than half a loaf. That top shelf is crowded with little containers of chili, won-ton soup, curried chicken and hamburger stroganoff.

I had to install a light fixture above the sink with three hi-intensity halogen bulbs. The one in the fridge was always so obscured by all the food that you couldn’t see in. Thanx for reading our obesity diary. You must’ve wanted to; you showed up.   😆

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On an unrelated note; I recently ran into a woman who’s even more of a Grammar Nazi than me. She warns her online friends that, if they send her a message like the last line above, but spelled ‘You must of wanted to’, she’ll unfriend them on Facebook.   😳

#489

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It’s Chili Inside

All right, I warned you I was gonna pass out my recipe for chili.  You can try it and pass out later.

We never had chili when I was a kid.  We lived too far north to even hear of it.  Didn’t know what chili powder was.  My Mom’s spice rack had salt and pepper.  Ketchup was adventurous, although just after the ice-age, we called it catsup.  We were one of the first, daring families in our town to try Chef Boy-Ar-Dee’s boxed pizza mix.  We didn’t have a pizza tin, so we made it on a 9 X 13 cookie tray.  Perforce, it was a thin-crust pizza.  I learned to add a bit of flour to increase the crust, and add barbecue sauce or tomato juice to the kit’s little can of pizza sauce.  I grated extra cheddar for the top, but my mom couldn’t tell me what was in the spice mixture.  The wife has two racks, with 36 spices, and 24 herbs

Chili is a poor family’s meal.  Chili con carne means with meat, and is a small step up.  Often people saved money by adding things to the basic recipe, to stretch it, to feed more kids.  My wife’s family had nine kids.  They needed to stretch it as far as they could.

Basic chili con carne has meat, tomatoes, beans and chili powder.  After that, you can be as creative as you want.  Normally, the con carne means ground beef, but you can use ground pork, ground turkey – dark meat or light.  You can put in steak chunks if you can afford it.  The wife’s family’s recipe is below, complete with secret ingredient.  With lots of exceptions, women are often, merely cooks, following recipes, and men are the more creative chef types.  What I’m saying is, don’t get hung up on how many grains of salt.  Find out what works for you and your family, and go with it.

List Of Ingredients

1 to 1 ½ lbs lean ground beef

1 large cooking onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon chopped/grated garlic, fresh pressed or bottled – more, or less, to taste

1 – 29 oz. Can diced tomatoes

1 – 19 oz. Can red kidney beans

1 – 12 oz. Can Chili-style beans – Optional – if available, or any type of baked beans

1 – 10 oz. Can mushroom stems and pieces – optional

2  tablespoons chili powder – more, or less, to taste

Tabasco sauce, or equivalent, optional, know your eaters’ tastes and limits

Secret Ingredient/Chili Extender – leftover spaghetti, chopped to 1 to 2 inch pieces.  Adds a bit more meat and tomato flavor, as well as cheap carbs.  Strictly optional.

 

Preparation/Cooking Instructions

Basic instruction, Stir, stir, stir.  This is a thick soup/stew.

Chop onion fine

Add onion and garlic, salt and pepper to ground meat in large pot.  Break meat up fine and mix with onion/garlic.   Cook till done and liquid is driven off.  Add tomatoes.  Bring back to light boil.  Add kidney beans, bring back to heat.  Add chili-style or baked beans, bring back to heat.  Add mushrooms, if desired, and chopped, cooked spaghetti, a double handful, or as far as you want to stretch it, bring back to heat.  I add 6 or 7 drops of Tabasco.  BrainRants would use Sriracha.  Your tongue may differ.  Add desired amount of chili powder and stir well. Total preparation time to this point, including chopping onion and garlic, 45 minutes.  Turn heat to minimum and allow to meld.  Stir occasionally.  A half hour to hour allows flavors to blend.  You can add small chunks of cheddar, Monterey Jack, or other cheese to go con queso, stir in, or serve separately.  Serve with saltine crackers, nacho-style chips, or toast.  Serves four to five hungry men, or an entire church social.

I had a hilarious story about super-hot Texas Chili that I was going to include, but I’ve rambled on too long with this cooking show, and I can’t seem to find it in the computer files.  What I think I’ll do is wait a couple of days, until you are allowed back in the house after all these beans, and then post the chili story as a follow-up, when I can find it.  Happy eating.