28 Dec Inside the Fridge–Holiday Style: State of Cake
Inside the Fridge welcomes Wendi from State of Cake. Wendi has offered to show us what her fridge looks like pre-holidays! Wendi is a doctoral candidate and a sometimes food blogger who believes in whole food, slow food, and real food. Once her boat-anchor of a dissertation is finished, she plans on focusing on recipe development for a cake book based on vintage recipes. She posts (sometimes) at State Of Cake or you can follow her at @stateofcake on twitter.
Below we ask her questions about her grocery shopping and food habits during the holiday season – with actual pictures from her fridge!
Inside the Fridge: Where do you shop for food?
Wendi Clouse: Whew- This is a tough question… I have varied shopping habits and I shop according to season (and whim). Let’s see, for meat I like to go to Andy’s Meat Market, which is one of our only local butchers. For more exotic ingredients we will go to one of the few specialty markets. For example, we are lucky enough to have a great Asian Market on the south side of town that seems to have a good selection of live seafood. For general shopping and organic produce I head to Whole Foods or the Sunflower Market. During the summer, (which is my favorite time of year) I’m a Farmer’s Market girl. When I have extra time on the weekends, I head down to Pueblo and shop at the local farm stands. I am a big online shopper for wine, condiments, and spices. And, of course, I’d be remiss to leave out Safeway for the few things we just can’t get elsewhere.
ITF: What is the single most important thing on your mind when you are shopping for food?
WC: I always keep nutrition and value in mind- It kills me to see the market charge $4 for a loaf of assembly-line bread, though I don’t mind paying that much if it’s handmade and additive free. I find that often, I can make products that are much more satisfying than what we buy at the grocers, so I try to make sure I have plenty of whole ingredients on hand for cooking and baking.
ITF: How often do you shop?
WC: I guess I run to the store about three times per week.
ITF: How many do you shop for? Ages?
WC: During the holidays, I shop for baking (we gift about 20 people with food gifts), during the “normal” part of the year I shop for two adults and one 10-year-old.
ITF: What is your weekly food budget?
WC: Budget? What budget?
ITF: How many times a week do you eat out? (based on 21 meals/week)
WC: Maybe we will go out for Mexican food or pizza once per week, but eating out seems to be a fairly disappointing experience, so we have talked about avoiding it altogether.
ITF: How do you plan your weekly meals? Create a spreadsheet of fly by the seat of your pants?
WC: Totally seat of the pants. My husband and I do the “what’s for dinner dance” at about 3:30 PM daily. I really envy people who can make a weekly menu and stick to it. I am too fickle for that.
ITF: What is the most coveted food in the fridge right now for each member of the household? Why?
WC: For the 10-year-old it is cheese, any type. It is her “go-to” snack and I am confident that the only reason she wants pizza is because she gets to grate Parmesan over the top.
For my husband it would be anything with sugar. Right now we have several types of buttercream frosting for Christmas cookies in the fridge, and he could eat it with a spoon.
I am always looking for fresh fruit.
ITF: What is the oldest item in the fridge right now?
WC: I am guessing the oldest thing in the fridge right now is either homemade pickles or perhaps fish sauce that I use for stir fry.
ITF: Do you believe in leftovers?
WC: I love leftovers for lunches and so does my husband.
ITF: What convenience product can you not live without?
WC: I would say that there are four primary convenience products that I buy on a regular basis: organic MSG free broth or stock for making a quick soup, canned beans (black, pinto, kidney, and garbanzo), boxed falafel, and blue cheese salad dressing.
ITF: What brands do you swear by? Why?
WC: Since we live in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, tasty fresh tomatoes are really hard to get in winter, so I swear by canned San Marzano’s (Cento whole with basil are my favorite).
ITF: What cooking utensil/piece of equipment/appliance do you live for?
WC: If I had to live without my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, then I’m not sure I would bake so often. But the mixer is second to a 12” cast-iron skillet that I use almost daily (no kitchen is complete without one).
ITF: When you hear the word “homemade” what is the first thing that comes to mind?
WC: Control… I make homemade food because I can control what goes into the end product.
ITF: What food/s are important when recalling food memories?
WC: The list is too long. We had Sunday dinner at my Great-Grandma’s every Sunday until I was about 10 or 12. She lived in the mountain between Woodland Park and Deckers, CO. And she had an OUTHO– — USE…Only an outhouse. Dinner was always homemade bread, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, and either strawberry shortcake or apple pie. I learned to make fried chicken, bread, and piecrust from My Great Grandma (we shared a birthdate too). My Great Grandma raised the chickens, so from a vey young age I realized where food came from. I remember watching her chop wood, make bread, and feed over 20 people on a moment’s notice (all without a drivers license). She was a very strong woman.
ITF: What was the last meal you cooked from scratch?
WC: We had fried eggplant last night- it was fabulous.
ITF: If one person could cook for you tonight, who would it be?
WC: I would wet my pants if I came home and found Thomas Keller in my kitchen. But since I know that won’t ever happen, I will just have to plan for reservations at one of his many establishments in the Napa Valley.
ITF: What words of wisdom or advice do you have for other folks who are doing their best every day to fill the fridge?
WC: Cook whole foods and use everything. A pot of beans can be the foundation of many lovely meals for pennies. Talk to your grandma (or someone else’s grandma). Grandma’s, especially if they lived in the 30’s or 40’s, know how to make food stretch. My grandma taught me not to throw out vegetable ends (celery leaves, carrot tops, & onion trimmings), but use them instead in homemade stock. If you spend some time on the weekend making a good pot of soup, then you can get through the week with very little extra work or money.
Thank you Wendi!
If you would like to be featured on Inside the Fridge, please email RobinsBite Intern Laura Bartee – Laura *at* robinplotkin *dot* com