Refrigerator Voyeur

Several years ago we were at an outdoor party, I think celebrating someone’s retirement. We were all gathered round in the backyard eating snacks and drinking adult beverages when one of the female guests went into the house to use the necessary room. We saw her turn on the light and she obviously used the toilet because for a minute or two she was out of view. Then some of us pretended not to watched as she went over to the sink and proceeded to open the medicine cabinet. She removed a couple items for closer evaluation and then put them back where she found them. She closed the medicine cabinet and bent down. We assume to look through the vanity drawers. The light went out and in a moment she was back outdoors with the rest of us. No one spoke a word to the medicine cabinet voyeur about what several of us had witnessed and chuckled quietly about.

When I go to visit my dad I am a refrigerator voyeur. Someone needs to be. Checking for expiration dates or foods that are penicillin material. Perhaps I’m not an adequate refrigerator peeping Tom because on one visit my nieces found some very very old milk in the back of the refrigerator. They asked me what they should do with it and I said pour it down the toilet. “Aunt Featherheadlady,” they said, “it won’t come out of the carton.”  Well that says it all.

I’m always curious about what people in front of or behind me have in their shopping carts. Do they make meals from scratch?  Bake a lot?  Buy organic?  Eat gluten free?  Vegetarian or vegan?  Junk food junkies?  Do they have lots of children?  Eat alone?  Maybe I’ll start taking pictures of the content of people’s shopping carts and try to  draw conclusions about their lives. I guess I’m just as nosy as the lady who combed through that medicine cabinet.

I thought I’d share a few of my refrigerator shelves with you.  Most of these things I consider necessities for cooking savory dishes. I have specific places for specific things. When my husband is rummaging through the fridge I ask him what he’s looking for. Because I know where almost everything is in there. Almost everything.

Shelf #1


Sweet relish for making tartar sauce. Some people use it as a stand alone condiment but I do not.

Dijon mustard for making salad dressing, potato salad, deviled eggs, barbecue sauce, and for smearing on sandwiches or burgers.

Chipotle hot sauce???  Where did that come from?

Anchovy filets and paste for making pasta sauces and Caesar salad dressing.

Hoisin sauce for stir-fry or dipping sauces.

Horseradish for making cocktail sauce, bloody Mary’s, dipping sauce for beef brisket, or kicking up the deviled eggs a bit.

Shelf #2


Fish sauce for stir-fry, marinades, Asian vinaigrette.

Sriracha chili sauce for dipping sauces, glaze.

Franks red hot for so many things…macaroni and cheese, potato salad, bloody Mary’s, tacos, barbecue sauce…

A1 sauce for foods I cook that my husband thinks are dry or  insufficiently seasoned.

Worcestershire sauce…Lea and Perrins…for so many things. (I think it’s wrong to take the paper off the bottle.)  It has vinegar, molasses, sugar, onion, garlic, cloves, chili pepper extract and anchovies.   Genius.

Shelf #3


Chili pepper for kicking up chili, dips, salsa, guacamole. A little goes a long way.

Toasted sesame oil for marinades, stir-fried dishes, rice noodles. A little goes a long way.

Soy sauce for stir-fry, marinades, sushi. Like Worcestershire and Franks, soy sauce is a necessity.

Lemon oil which is great for fish dishes and salad dressings.

Saigon sizzle stir-fry sauce when you want a good, not much extra effort, dinner in the wok.

That’s the left side of my refrigerator door. My cooking necessities. The other side has things like buttermilk, brooks tangy catsup,  dark chocolate syrup, jalapeño peppers, lots of butter, mayonnaise, maple syrup, and a big container of Pepto Bismol.

Another time I’ll invite you into my cheese drawer.