Thursday, July 28, 2016


Too much of a old thing?
I'm really not a condiment kind of guy.
While probably like yours our fridge is
stuffed full of half empty jars and bottles
of the stuff, they're rarely used. But don't
worry, its not that I have some odd sort
of granola phobia about processed brews.
Frankly there's little risk of that kind of
stuff killing us given our usage is at best
random and minimal. The only element
of danger involved is simply making sure
that no mold sits atop said concoctions
post many months of sitting all alone in
the dark waiting for some sort of action.

Please pass the...
We all have more than our fair share of
condiments. I used to love catsup on a
hot dog. However given I rarely if ever
slip a wiener in my mouth, any chance
of an accompanying savory squirt of the
red stuff is limited at best. Frank makes
a phenomenal shrimp cocktail sauce out
of catsup. Once doctored with liberal
shots of fresh lemon juice, horseradish,
and Worcestershire sauce it's more than
piquant. When I do make the occasional
meatloaf, catsup plays a key role in the
mix plus is slathered atop. Pour it on!

It's in the bag
Speaking of Worcestershire sauce - what
exactly is in that brew? And how did it
become a staple in American kitchens?
Did you know that said stew contains
fermented anchovies? So in essence it's
the English equivalent to Chinese Fish
Sauce. Hmm... when I think of it that
way, suddenly said liquid gold intrigues.
I find the jaunty Lea & Perrin's bagged
bottle rather charming. However it's rare
that I dip into the stuff except when I'm
making a meatloaf or my secret Mac and
cheese sauce. What else is it good for?!

I'll take a pass
My father was a fan of mustard. Growing
up with Gulden's golden glow only made
me hate the stuff. Post reaching adulthood
 I rejected my cultural food heritage and
discovered the joys of Moutarde de Dijon.
Long before Grey Poupon launched into
popularity I had a crock of Pommery in
my fridge. Not only did it look great - it
made sure that my homemade vinaigrette
stayed together as one. Ham sandwiches
side, to this day I rarely use mustard for
anything beyond marinades, dressings,
and the occasional ham glaze. Sorry Dad!

Bring out the best?
Mayonnaise is yet another rare culinary
ingredient in my world. If I'm making
potato salad, I'll mix up a batch of real,
homemade, olive oil, and free range egg
mayo in the Cuisinart. Otherwise we
buy the smallest GLASS jar available.
Fiction or not, the idea of anything that
sits in a plastic container for a year or
two worries me. Therefore whenever
possible we stick to good old fashioned
glass. And more often than not, we end
up throwing our mayo away. Anything
that lasts that long simply scares me...

How sweet it is...
In theory I adore the idea of jams, jellies,
and preserves. Thus our cabinets are full
of dainty jars that upon inspection also
sport a light layer dust. You see, neither
of us actually use the stuff. This Jack
Sprat's spouse certainly never avoids
butter upon my toast. However sugary
concoctions rarely hold any allure. I'd
much rather nibble on something savory
like hummus.  That said, there's nothing
as charming as some gussied up French
preserves. And so even if decorative, we
keep on buying more! Viva la difference!

Some like it HOT
In theory one might assume that as
a pair of bon vivants - we've got a
plethora of fiery hot liquids awaiting
in our cooler. However we rarely
use hot sauce. So beyond a requisite
bottle of Tabasco, our chilled pantry
lacks any heat. It's not that we don't
like spicy food, in fact the hotter the
better. Yet it seems that we're rather
tepid on the concept of liberal use of
prepared liquids. Rather than wet,
we go dry with liberal amounts of
cayenne and red pepper flakes!

Asian influence
Both Frank and I adore Asian cookery. In
order to prepare it properly, you must have
the right ingredients. Even in Lewistown
our grocer carries several Asian vegetables
including Bitter Melon. With an additional
dash of this n' that we can easily replicate
most fairly exotic entrees. Key components
to said success are a plethora of bottled
sauces including Tamari, Fish, Black Bean,
Hoisin, Oyster, and of course Sesame Oil.
These are the condiments that we actually
use, even if they're probably the equivalent
of catsup in the far east! What's old is new!

Sweet and sour
Rather than waste the stuff, there are
alternative uses for pantry staples. As
a boy my mother often used mayo to
condition her hair. Others use it as a
facial. Whenever I roast a chicken or
turkey I slather it in the slippery stuff.
Not just for pickling or salads, white
vinegar has become our most favored
cleaning product. Sans risk of toxicity
it cleans better than most commercial
concoctions. So rather than letting it
sit in a dark cabinet, add a cup to your
next dishwasher load. IT'S MAGIC!