Monday, July 6, 2020

Around the Kitchen Table: What's in the Fridge? + Book #Giveaway

MADDIE DAY:  When we come up with a new character, especially a protagonist, one way to get to know her is to list what's in the trunk of her car, in her handbag, on her bedside table, and for the authors here, in her refrigerator. Does she keep all the old condiments and bits of jam, just in case, or is she an expiration-date freak? Does she stock milk, bread, fruits, vegetables? Or does her fridge only hold a pack of hot dogs, a bottle of ketchup, and a six-pack of beer?


MLKers, what's in your fridge at home today? How about your protagonist's?

Since I, Maddie, am hosting this session around the kitchen table, I'll go first. I admit to being a person who keeps that half jar of lemon marmalade in the back of the top shelf, because it went so well with the last pork loin I roasted (except, ahem, that was five years ago). I figure as long as it isn't moldy, why toss it? I also have odd bits of chili paste and hoisin sauce in the door, and always a container of miso and one of tahini in the back somewhere. The rest is full of salad vegetables (lettuce from my garden!), milk, local eggs, cheeses, pickles, bread, tortillas, salsa and a pot of leftover chili. Plus wine and beer, of course. And sourdough starter.

My protag Robbie Jordan is a chef and lives behind her country store restaurant, so her personal fridge can be a little sparsely filled at times. But she always has cream for her dark roast coffee, an assortment of IPAs, and usually a few containers of tasty leftovers in the freezer.

Mac Almeida in the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries, on the other hand, doesn't cook at all. She has ham, cheese, and bread for her daily sandwich in her fridge, plus yogurt for her granola and a bottle of white wine. She's a bit obsessive-compulsive, so anything hitting an expiration date goes in the trash. Her freezer is mostly taken up with snacks for Belle, her African gray parrot, who loves frozen grapes and carrots.


LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Every so often, someone on FB will share a photo of their nearly-empty fridge and I'm astonished! Both Mr. Right and I love to cook and eat, and we can pretty much always make a meal of what's in the fridge (with help from the freezer), even these days when we're shopping less. I'll admit, we may not need 5 varieties of mustard, but each has their own uses, and when you want stoneground, Dijon just won't do! There's always 2% for my morning latte and half & half for his, a bottle of Chardonnay, plenty of veggies, and a variety of cheese. Dried fruit. Kalamata olives and marinated artichokes. Prosciutto, eggs, and English muffins so Mr. Right can make his own breakfast sandwiches. Homemade chocolate Cabernet sauce for ice cream. A can of cat food. And yes, those odd bits Maddie/Edith mentioned -- many can easily be made into salad dressing with a bit of olive oil and a squirt or two of lemon juice or white wine vinegar.

My Pepper, star of the Spice Shop Mysteries, works in Pike Place Market, so she's got tons of fresh produce, meat, cheese, and bread close by and can shop as often as she wants, lucky girl. I confess that her fridge is more orderly than mine, but she too loves to whip up a snack or dinner with what's on hand. And thanks to her chef clients and the butchers in the Market, she's always got bones for Arf the Airedale, her little ambassador.   


DARYL:   I always have condiments in the fridge. If they get old, I toss and buy new and they get old again, but they are there!  I love having olives and cheese in the refrigerator. These are go-to snacks for me. And I've become a cream with coffee drinker, thanks to my ENT who suggested that could help with my reflux. It did!  So I have a wealth of cream choices: half 'n half, cream, lightly flavored all natural creamer. Last but not least, there is always a good selection of fruit in my fridge. I love all fruit and find it a satisfying sweet when I'm out of the sugary kinds.

LUCY BURDETTE: My refrigerator is a little embarrassing, but here's part of it. I'm trying not to go to the grocery store very often, so I try to plan menus ahead and order a lot of stuff at once. Hayley Snow in Key West has a full refrigerator too, but she has the luxury of popping into the local grocery, Fausto's, or her favorite fish market if she has unexpected guests. (And she definitely will in THE KEY LIME CRIME!)


LESLIE KARST: My very favorite item to spot in my own fridge is leftovers! When I make a nice meal for dinner—and by that, I mean something more ambitious than merely heating a can of refried beans and throwing together a couple burritos with cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce—I’ll usually prepare enough for two nights. After all, it’s no more work to make dinner for four than it is for two. So, here you can see (on my top shelf) leftover roasted red peppers and onions, a bowl of leftover white bean salad, and (in the meat tender) leftover grilled sausages. Which Robin and I ate with leftover grilled baguette slices that I’d popped into the freezer to keep from going stale.

Sally Solari, my protagonist, also tends to have leftovers in her fridge, but they’re generally from her restaurant, Gauguin, since—being a cook by trade—she’s not big on cooking at home on her nights off. But her leftovers are pretty divine, including such delicacies as Coq au Vin au Gauguin or Roasted Leeks with Walnut Oil, Lemon, and Thyme. Oh, and pretty much every Monday you’ll find in Sally’s fridge a Tupperware container filled with her nonna’s leftover Sunday Gravy from the previous day’s weekly family dinner.


PEG:  My refrigerator is always stuffed! Lots of produce--lettuce, lemons, vegetables for dinners I've planned (but don't always stick to), berries to top hubby's cereal and apples and clementines. The shelves on the door are filled with various condiments--everything from sriracha to go chu jang sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, etc. I don't keep a lot of cheese in the fridge because I'd eat it all and be the size of a hippo! And then there are the containers of bits and pieces of leftovers, which I usually eat but just as often lose in the back of the fridge--peanut sauce from the night I made satay, tzatziki sauce for the Greek burgers, a small container of chickpea salad with olives and chopped onion...

As for my characters...Monica Albertson from my Cranberry Cove series usually has leftover erwtensoep (Dutch pea soup), a bottle of wine chilling to share with hubby Greg, something from Bart's Butcher for dinner, cranberry salsa and veggies from the farmer's market.

Penelope Parish from my new Open Book Series (debuting in October under my pen name Margaret Loudon), is a typical millenial and her fridge contains a couple of nubs of cheese, a few bottles half full of wine and leftover takeout curry from Curries and Kebabs in Upper Chumley-on-Stoke.


Vicki: My fridge is pretty much a petri-dish. I never throw condiments out. I might need them some day.  Notice all the beer in the back of my fridge? I don't actually drink beer.  I bought those for guests. One day I'll be able to have guests again. I hope. The coffee is fresh though.

The protagonist of Tea and Treachery, the first book in the Tea by the Sea series, Lily Roberts, has three fridges. The one in her tea room is packed with fresh berries, cream, butter, ingredients to make delicious sandwiches, and the freezer is full of good baking. The fridge in the B&B where she cooks the breakfasts, overflows with local sausages and bacon, farm eggs, berries, milk and cream and good butter. The fridge in her own cottage - not so much. She cooks all day, why would be come home and cook for herself?


MAYA: Much of the space in my fridge is devoted to fruits and vegetables, which include lettuce and greens from our garden. When refrigerators were redesigned with door bins to hold gallon drinks, the crispers were reduced in size. The ones in my counter-depth fridge don't hold much, so the overflow goes on the other shelves. 

At least I don't have to find room for wine bottles. I have a small wine fridge, which is where I also keep my butter. The wine is at the right temperature to drink and the butter to spread easily. 

The sleuth in my Five-Ingredient Mysteries, Val Deniston, does need to find to room for wine in the fridge, as well as beer, the drink that her grandfather prefers. He also likes to fish, so the fridge often has his catch of the day. She moved in with him originally because her mother asked her to put him on the healthy diet his doctor recommended. Val has mostly succeeded in her mission. Their fridge, like mine, contains a lot of fruit and vegetables. But if Val moved some things aside, she might find a hunk of beef that Granddad bought to cook when she isn't home.


Since this is early Monday morning, which is my normal grocery shopping day, there isn't much in my fridge. Water, condiments, wine, and soda is about it. When I get home later this afternoon, there will be lots of fresh produce.

Skye Denison-Boyd from my Scumble River series never knows what she'll find in her fridge. Between her mother May and her housekeeper Dorothy opening the door is always a surprise.

ESSIE:  First, I'd like to say that Lucy's fridge puts mine to shame. It's so tidy looking, so no pictures from me! Like Daryl, I make sure I have a variety of cheese on hand for snacking along with baby carrots and  hummus. I also like to try a variety of condiments and sauces, so they're in there until expiry time usually. I do try them, and those I enjoy get use up fairly quickly, but some....well, you know. 

Shelby Cox, my protagonist is not really that into cooking so her fridge has ingredients for easy-to-make meals.  Sauces for pasta, eggs, bagels, etc. Thank goodness for her the guy in her life, Zack Griffin is a terrific cook.  Every home should have one of those!


KRISTA DAVIS: Edith, I have to say that I'm impressed by your nice clean refrigerator. About a year ago, I came home after a long day, exhausted, and with a carload of groceries. When I opened the refrigerator door, every single shelf dripped a brown liquid. It was on the ceiling and the side walls. There were lakes pooling on the shelves and I had groceries to put away. A word to the wise, do not keep bottled chocolate milk beyond the expiration date unless you're hoping to swim in muddy shattered glass. I had those groceries, thankfully mostly in coolers, out in the sweltering heat and the pressure was on! The glass bottle had exploded during our absence!

There is no chocolate milk in my refrigerator. I always have two percent milk for my tea. Unsalted butter for baking and KerryGold unsalted butter for toast. Apricot jam is a staple. Many years ago, the brother of a friend became very ill while visiting her. The poor guy assumed her condiments were edible. They were not. After that I became ruthless about condiments and now throw them out on a regular basis. I usually have mayo, ketchup, bread and butter pickles, and an assortment of mustards. What takes up the most room? Eggs! Of course, I don't go to the grocery store as often these days so I stock up on eggs, and when I'm lucky, I manage to score duck eggs from a local farmer. I always have fresh fruit, especially berries. Carrots, lettuce, and very soon, fresh-from-the-garden summer squash and zucchini. There's usually meat thawing for the dogs, and cooked barley and quinoa. And these days, I have the well known Stay-At-Home sourdough starter.

Sophie Winston always has a packed fridge and a full freezer. She loves to entertain at home, so she's always ready in case friends drop by. She's very well known for having chocolate chip cookies in the freezer ready to go in case there's an emergency in the middle of the night or she needs a bribe, well, not a bribe actually, but to soften up someone. Right now, Sophie would have pork chops, steaks for grilling, tomatoes from her garden, lettuce, milk, eggs, bacon, fruit, and probably a cake or pie.

Holly Miller lives in the Sugar Maple Inn, so her refrigerator contains yogurt, milk, a bottle of wine, and an assortment of fresh cat and dog food made on the premises. Of course, it helps that the secret staircase in her apartment leads down to the private kitchen, which houses the magic refrigerator, so called because it's never empty. Most of the Sugar Maple Inn's dining leftovers are distributed to the needy, but a portion goes into the magic refrigerator in case Holly or Oma get hungry.

Florrie Fox spends her time managing a bookstore and drawing adult coloring books. She doesn't do much cooking but she loves to bake. She usually has yogurt, cheese, milk, butter, wine, berries, sliced ham or turkey for sandwiches, and condiments. She lives in Georgetown, Washington, DC, so it's easy for her to pick up whatever she needs on her way home from work.

Cleo's Cold Brew Coffee

CLEO COYLE Like our amateur sleuth, Marc and I do a lot of home cooking and try to keep our fridge stocked with staples. If you open our fridge during the summer months, however, you will always see a Mason jar of Cold Brew Coffee, the very same beverage our amateur sleuth (coffeehouse manager and master roaster Clare Cosi) drinks all summer long. Coffee made with this method is incredibly smooth and refreshing.

Click here for Cleo's recipe.
The flavor is outstanding, never weak or watery as many iced coffees can be. While there are many ways to make cold brew, our favorite is the method we wrote about in our 16th Coffeehouse Mystery Dead Cold Brew. The Mason jar’s lid seals the coffee in an airtight lock, keeping it fresh as you steep it—and when you store it. This method is easy, convenient, and (best of all) inexpensive. If you’d like our step-by-step recipe and a free PDF, you are welcome to click here and jump to our recipe post. Enjoy the summer, everyone. Stay cool! ~ Cleo


Leave a comment to enter to win these books from our authors. 
Remember to include your email so we can contact you if you win. 
What's in your fridge?

Death on the Menu, by Lucy Burdette
Tea and Treachery, by Vicki Delany
The Diva Sweetens the Pie, by Krista Davis
Nacho Average Murder, by Maddie Day
A Sprinkling of Murder, by Daryl Wood Gerber


  1. We always stock a wide variety of soft drinks, my weakness, and right now there is leftover tomato dill soup, fried chicken, and slaw.

    1. Your leftovers sound divine! I'm a tad jealous...

  2. Until I read your post I never thought about everything in our fridge. The door and one half shelf is just condiments, jelly, and butter, my goodness! But, it all gets used. After that it's from top down: 1. a Brita water picture, 2-3 bottles of 2% organic milk, rich creamer, orange juice, and right now half a bottle of Bloody Mary mix, but could be beer on occasion. 2.the left over shelf, sour cream always, boiled eggs 2-6, greek yogurt, if we don't have home grown a container of grape tomatoes, slice, shredded and chunks cheese of different variety, sliced ham, and turkey pepperoni. 3. 2 cartons of eggs, berries usually strawberries, a cold bottle of German Eiswein, tortillas and maybe fresh meat for whatever I have planned for meals planned. 4. Always avocadoes, cabbage, cucumbers, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, carrots, lettuce. 5. Freezer is always full chopped onions of differnt varieties, chopped bell pepper, always a bag of shrimp, various meats, leftovers, frozen french bread pizza, real fruit Popsicles, crawfish, sausage, bacon tater tots, butter we use alot of butter.
    I don't know what that says of us except there is a cajun in the house, but it is pretty much the same all the time. We do love our home canned goodies for sure. Thanks for sharing your fridge😁❤!

  3. I have to go clean my fridge!

  4. Well, today is Monday - the day garbage runs. Mondays mean the refrigerator has been cleaned out of all the little dabs I didn't throw out during the last week thinking we "might" eat them. Goes back to my upbringing of waste not want not.

    Monday's are the cleanest and emptiest time for my refrigerator. There are still the standards of condiments, milk, eggs, several pound of butter and chocolate chips - because I bake a lot, pepperoni because you never know when you will want pizza, and assortment of cheeses - which are a stable in this household. With growing a garden this year, there are fresh out of the garden veggies like squash, banana peppers and the much anticipated tomatoes that are just now starting to ripen.

    The only meat item in there right now is leftover rib meat and broth from yesterdays BBQ ribs that was taken out before the sauce added which will used to make hubby some mush this week.

    It's interesting to see what's in others fridge to see the wide array of likes and imagine the meals that come from those contents.

    Thank you for the fabulous opportunity to win not one but FIVE wonderful books.

    Please be safe, stay healthy and have a little adventure along the way - even if through the pages of a good book.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

  5. Too much that needs to be cleaned out. Things get pushed to the back and forgotten. suefoster109 at gmail dot com

  6. We have all kinds of condiments, things to drink and leftovers- most of which we end up eating. I always keep yogurts and cheeses and fresh veggies too as I try to eat healthy. Thank you so much for this chance. pgenest57(at)aol(dot)com

  7. We have leftovers, condiments, milk, cold brew coffee, and bottle of white wine in my fridge.
    Kitten143 (at) Verizon (dot) net

  8. I always keep 4 huge containers of Fage Plain 0% Greek Yogurt, at least 3 dozen Extra Large Eggs, Fresh fruit (strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, lemons) Fresh Veggies (sweet onions, red and green bell peppers, cucumbers, jalapenos, carrots) There is also always a 5 ingredient cheesecake (flavors vary and 0 points on WW) homemade fruit compote, currently a strawberry one. On the doors I keep condiments like ketchup, steak sauce, soy sauce, salad dressings, lemon and lime juice, Land O Lakes Whipped Cream, Coffee Creamers, jams, mustard and pickles. Today I also have thin cut chicken breast, leftover pork loin that we cooked int he smoker, white rice, white cheddar cheese, block of Parmesan. Turkey pepperoni, butter, almond cashew milk, skim milk, container of crystal lite and a container of light ice tea with lemon. tube of tomato paste, container of black olives, salsa, homemade bbq sauce, loaf of bread, hummus, sour cream, cottage cheese and medication.

    Looking forward to seeing what others have in their fridge. I also want to say to everyone to please STAY SAFE, Stay Healthy and thank you for the opportunity to enter this giveaway. busymother(at)gmail(dot)com.

    1. Always a mask!

      You do sound like a busy mom - that's a full fridge.

    2. Yes, always a mask! I do keep it stocked. Just don't ask about the freezer lol. That is full too.

  9. Right now my fridge is full of leftovers from our family's Fourth of July celebration.
    clarksrfun at gmail dot com

  10. I try & be organized in my fridge .... leftovers of course !! ( I love home-cooking & always a pitcher w/ ice coffee & tea available.. (caffeine gal 4-sure !! ) I like hitting the farmer's mrkts too , so I always have fresh fruits & vegees available to use for my meals ..thank you ladies for the wonderful books you provide for us xoxo

  11. We have milk and fruit and condiments and some leftovers. Thanks for the contest. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. Janetm52 (at) AOL (dot) comJuly 6, 2020 at 9:34 AM

    Lots of July 4th leftovers - watermelon, potato salad, chicken skewers, �� on the cob!

  13. I am very fortunate as my refrigerator is stuffed with amazing foods cooked by my 92 year old mother-in-law who is 100% Italian and learned to cook from her immigrant mother. Every week, she makes main dishes, sides, and desserts for us, saying "what else do I have to do?". Everything she makes is so delicious!

    1. You are one lucky daughter-in-law, Lis!

    2. That makes me yearn for my Italian grandmother's cooking!

    3. My 90 yr.old mom is Sicilian-American,(Dad was Cajun) and she taught me early how to cook, but since her falls, strokes, a heart attack and now dementia I am the cook for 5 of us, where we're staying-in-place. Lisa, you are indeed very lucky!

    4. Lynn, please be safe. Yes, stay in place. Wishing you good health. ~ Daryl

  14. Welcome everyone. This is a fun and different post today. Our fridge's top shelf is totally dedicated to drinks, water, milk etc. The other two shelves are food-left overs, veggies and fruits. The two drawers on the bottom are-one is fruits and the other is veggies.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  15. We have lots of yogurt, spring mix salad, peppers, tomatoes, and meat to grill. Right now there is also fresh blueberries, canteloupe, strawberries, cherries and iced tea.
    marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com

    1. You are all set, Maryann. Do you make smoothies with all that?

  16. Yogurt, spinach, tomatoes, peppers, apples, sparkling water, hummus and leftovers. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

    1. I love hummus for a quick sandwich - with tomatoes!

  17. Produce galore always since they are important and vital, soups, yogurt, lemons a must, variety of drinks, and cheese. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. I have produce galore, too! Good for you. Lemons, always. ~ Daryl

  18. Our refrigerator is sparsely filled-unsalted butter, various mustards, olives which I won't touch, and veggies. It's what's in the gatage fridge that's interesting. I stocked it full of Bounty paper towels! Why, you ask. Because I wanted the luxury of a 2nd fridge, only for the freezer part and I read that it'd run more efficiently if it's full. The workers who redid our kitchen and but their lunches in it were most surprised😄
    I'd LOVE to win the books

    1. X-jerseygirl, Ha! That's hysterical. I love that you have to keep it full. LOL ~ Daryl