The staples to which I refer are refrigerator must-haves. A friend who knows I like to cook asked about the things I make, and the things I have on hand, and it occurred to me that as much as a well-stocked pantry—with pastas and grains, diced tomatoes, cans and cartons of broths and stocks—is key to a meal in a pinch, certain refrigerator items can not only elevate a meal but also create a plate start to finish as handily as it will create an image of you as a host that really has it together.
· cheeses—at least: a block of cheddar for cheese and crackers, Parmesan and/or Romano for grating and shaving, blue cheese crumbles, feta cheese crumbles, shredded mozzarella for pizzas, and fresh mozzarella
· other dairy—2% milk, half and half, sour cream, Greek yogurt, eggs
· meats—pepperoni and/or salami, prosciutto, pancetta, bacon
· condiments—mayonnaise (full fat), mustard (yellow and Dijon), ketchup, Soy sauce, terriyaki sauce, Soyaki (from Trader Joe’s), toasted sesame oil, chili oil, mango chutney, yellow Thai curry (also TJs), Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, hot sauce (feel a Bloody Mary coming up?), Sriracha, anchovy paste, tomato paste in tube, jarred pesto (yes, a condiment), sundried tomatoes, capers
· water—bottled and a pitcher
· limes· lemons
· tomato juice (there we go)
· orange juice
· some sort of fruit (grapes usually, and not just the fermented kind)
· veggies including greens and lettuce for salads and whenever possible…arugula, which makes me very happy
Give me garlic and onion (which I always also have on hand) and I can get busy with that box of pasta or some thing from my freezer--chicken, pork tenderloin, raw shrimp, cooked shrimp, or that foil-wrapped baguette. I can write about my freezer on another day, though. The sun is shining and the pool beckons. There are no back-to-school ads there.