Have you ever gone to whip up a quick meal only to realise you're out of the one condiment that makes the dish? I mean, can you ever really enjoy a hot dog without ketchup? (sorry Chicago, I know I'm betraying my heritage by putting ketchup on a dog, but its just so damn good!) Well, this has happened to me far too many times. As my husband will attest, not only do I get hangry but I have also been known to throw a tantrum when I discover I am out of that one item I need. He has learned the hard way to never finish the last of any of the items on my list below, for fear that my internal rage will be released. No joke, I once threw an entire pizza at the wall, slice by slice, merely because they forgot to put jalapenos on it (to be fair this was the straw on a camel's back of a particularly bad week, but I can't say it was a particularly proud moment).
Anyways, I wanted to share my list with you and see if you too, have a backup supply of Costco sized purchases in your pantry...
Sriracha Hot Sauce
I thought I'd start out with a crowd favourite, something that has got to be on the majority of people's list of essentials (and if it's not, shame on you). Sriracha is, hands down, the best hot sauce ever created. I appreciate that Tabasco and Cholula have their place, but they are nothing compared to Sriracha. I put it on everything - eggs, toast, pasta, sandwiches, dips, drinks (bloody Mary anyone?), etc. I even put it in soups and curries to spice them up. I'd have to say the only thing I don't use Sriracha on is fruit - but I'm working on a recipe. If you don't have this in your kitchen cupboard, buy some NOW!
Coleman's Mustard is a slightly milder and creamier form of english mustard. English mustard is HOT! If you've ever had the misfortune to take the tiniest bit too much of the stuff, you know what I mean. The room goes silent and all you can hear is your head exploding from the heat. Well, the brilliant Mr. Coleman managed to take the delicious taste of english mustard, knock down the heat level a few notches and add a bit of creaminess to create the most wonderful condiment for meat to ever exist. You have not experienced a perfectly cooked steak until you have paired it with a dab of Coleman's Mustard - step aside horseradish! Seriously, this stuff works well with all meat - steak, pork, chicken, lamb - and even a hardy fish (I eat it alongside salmon). It also works as a brilliant base for marinades. I go through it so quickly that I had to order a 12 pack from Amazon last week, yum!
This foul smelling, dark brown paste wormed it way into my heart after many years living in Australia. Almost every American I have met recoils at the mere mention of Vegemite, and I have only gotten a few to actually taste it. For those who don't know, Vegemite is a thick spread made from yeast extract with various vegetable and spice additives. Sounds delicious, right? My love for Vegemite started when I was training to run a marathon. I would come back from hours of running exhausted and sodium deprived. Keith, who was just my boyfriend at the time and a runner himself, started making me buttered toast lightly spread with Vegemite to take down after these runs as a way to replenish lost salt. I wasn't a fan at first, but if you put enough butter on bread I'll eat it with anything. After time, I grew to crave this salty spread and the rest is history. My toast now contains more Vegemite than butter, and is one of my favourite late night snacks.
Milder than a yellow onion, red onions are most popular served raw in salads, salsas and sandwiches. While I certainly agree with this method of preparation, I also love them caramelized on burgers or lightly sauted in tarts or pastas. My all time favourite red onion combo though has to be on a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon - yum! Given the ridiculously low level of effort needed to get such a great taste, red onions are my #1 go-to vegetable. Next time you make a sandwich or toss together a salad, make sure to add in some red onion - it will add the kick you've been missing!
Although this may sound like an obvious one (who wouldn't want beer in the fridge at all times?), notice that wine or whiskey did not make my list. Of course while I always hope there is a beautiful bottle of red on the rack, a crisp bottle of white chilling in the fridge and a nightcap of a whisky in the cabinet, I am not devastated if they are missing. I'm not saying I need a case of beer each night to make me happy, but when the craving hits for an ice cold bottle of brew, nothing can substitute. I can swap wine for whiskey, or whiskey for a gin, but beer is beer. You can call me a redneck, low-brow American but nothing beats a beer after a long day of work.