Sunday, January 24, 2010

What’s In The Fridge?

As good guys, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are prepared for just about any occasion, from the everyday to the extraordinary and everything in between. And while that doesn’t necessarily demand that you keep a plastic tarp, 50lb bag of lye, a roll of duct tape and a shovel in your trunk, it at least requires that you maintain a short-ish list of simple necessities in the icebox – for appearances if nothing else.

Note – If your wife does the household shopping, although that should not exclusively be the case, be sure you work these items onto list as required.

Cold Beer and Other Adult Beverages.
First and foremost, a man had better have a few cold beers on hand at all times, in expectation of announced visits, impromptu pre- or post- night out gatherings, spontaneous offerings to deserving repairmen and the like. Take it a step further by keeping a modest variety in stock – two options at least. Consider contrasting lighter or domestic brands and a similar amount of something a bit heavier or more exotic – ie. Miller and Bass, Heineken and Fat Tire, etc. Surprise and educate your guests with an under-the-radar, locally brewed favorite or an obscure discovery from a recent foray beyond our borders. Bottles only. Cans are for the golf course and the boat. If you find yourself lacking available space, or facing the ire of your significant other, immediately acquire additional cold storage, (college dorm varieties are adequate and typically available for under $100) ensconce it in the garage and keep it well stocked.

As far as other adult beverages are concerned, keep a bottle of chilled white wine and a decent bottle of champagne always at the ready, and under no circumstances allow the tiny light in your freezer to illuminate the absence of one bottle of (preferably Russian) vodka and one of (100% blue agave) tequila.

Basics and Perishables

A few items that should always be in at least minimal supply, from the basic building blocks of life to the makings of a perfect late-night, last minute romantic nosh include:
- At least 1/2 pound of butter – real butter, sweet cream, unsalted, in ¼ lb sticks encased in waxed paper, not a plastic tub. You may choose to supplement with olive oil on many occasions, but never be without this absolute necessity. Ask your grandmother.
- As far as other dairy products go (with cheese occupying it’s own distinct category), a quart of milk (whole to 2%, no less) and a pint of half & half or heavy whipping cream should suffice for most needs, large families excepted.
- Fresh fruits, particularly citrus - from oranges and grapefruits for juices, snacks or starters, to the ubiquitous lemons and limes without which no cocktail, seafood or guacamole would be legitimate – should always occupy a goodly percentage of the space in a lower compartment. Avocados in varying stages of ripeness make the perfect supplement to salads and sandwiches and as a simple side snack, particularly when paired with sliced Roma or firm, sweet cherub tomatoes . Fresh strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are sophisticated after-hours alternatives to ice cream and other sweets, and a perfect companion to anything from the champagne to the pancakes you are already prepared to provide as the situation dictates.
- Nothing begins a day, particularly a lazy, late-starting Saturday or Sunday, like breakfast made by your own hand – and it should be pointed out that it is the obligation of any gentleman who finds himself awakened in the company of an unanticipated but nevertheless attractive houseguest of the opposite sex. To that end, several large eggs and a pound or so of bacon are an utmost necessity. Add fresh cracked black peppercorns (always) and basil, spinach, mushrooms, peppers and cheeses to your eggs (as you see fit), and make sure the bacon is crisp. And, since you already have plenty of citrus and a bottle of champagne on hand, how about a fresh-squeezed mimosa? A well prepared breakfast of this caliber often leads you and your guest directly back to the room from whence you most recently emerged - You’re welcome.

Cheese, please.
From crumbled bleu and feta and fresh or marinated mozzarella, to blocks and slices of sharp, hearty Wisconsin cheddar and subtly smoked gruyere or gouda, cheese in variety is a can’t miss, go-to standard no self-respecting refrigerator should lack. Add it to salads, serve as snacks, and melt it into risotto or over potatoes and other staples to add a kick or unexpected twist.

Condiments and Other Extras

There is a reason refrigerators have such copious shelf space, and one should consider one’s self obligated to fill that space appropriately. Mayonnaise and mustard are bedrocks which must be occupy their God-given rightful stations, whether you enjoy them or not. One jar each of real mayonnaise and mustard of both the bright yellow and Gulden’s spicy variety should suffice. Ketchup or catsup as preferred, in quantity based upon consumption, is also an un-ignorable requirement. No man shall be without less than two varieties of barbeque sauce, as it has been written throughout the ages. Combine and supplement store bought brands with Worcestershire (the ever present, paper-wrapped Lea & Perrins ) or soy sauce and an improvised mixture of herbs and spices to make them your own. Two varieties of salad dressing, one creamy, such as bleu cheese or ranch, and a vinaigrette of some sort should meet most needs. (Try bleu cheese or ranch dressing as alternatives to mayo on your next “dagwood” sandwich.) Fill out your remaining shelf space with a variety (at least 2) of Mexican-style hot sauces or salsas, one small jar each of minced horseradish and minced garlic (used only when circumstances do not permit hand-mincing fresh cloves), and finish with bottle of Sriracha (the rooster) asian-style hot sauce and ground chili sauce or oil, for an exotic eastern spark. Creatively fill remaining nooks and crannys as available.

While most of the above items would not combine to make a suitable meal for one or more, they should form the basis or foundation of every good guy’s icebox, from stainless Subzero to rust pocked, circa-1970’s avocado-colored, allowing him to face a wide variety of situations and scenarios with anything from an easy confidence to near awe-inspiring style and sophistication.

As always, The Good Guy welcomes your comments, suggestions and additions to our oversights and omissions. Let us hear from you.

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