Debbie Koenig of Words to Eat By: What's In My Fridge

Photo by Bennington Photography
Every Friday in our "What's in My Fridge" feature, we'll be chatting with a different food blogger, asking them about their favorite foods and what's in their fridge.

This week I interviewed Debbie Koenig, who is a Brooklyn-based writer extraordinaire, the teacher of "Parents Need to Eat Too" cooking class, and mom to 4-year-old Harry. Check out her blog Words to Eat By and find out which Simpsons fave she has in her fridge, what she still has left over from her wedding, and why she hates her current fridge.


Tell me about your blog.

When I started Words to Eat By in 2004, I wasn't thinking that writing would become my career. I'd worked in book publishing for 15+ years and fantasized about opening a specialty foods shop. But writing about food offered the best of both worlds. And then my son was born, which, um, distracted me. I stopped blogging for a little while. Fine, it was almost two years. Last year I realized how much I missed blogging, so I revived it. Now I write about food filtered through a mom's eyes, dealing with a kid who's a picky eater (I'm pretty sure out of spite -- are preschoolers spiteful?), the time pressures, the desire to set a good, healthy example. And the fun of cooking, especially baking, with my son.

Photo by Words to Eat By
What's in your fridge right now?

Ridiculous amounts of food, really. My husband and I are on Weight Watchers (I'm a Lifetime Member, back on the wagon), so we plow through a farmers' market of fresh produce every week. Other highlights include a batch of mint-hazelnut pesto (a recipe for the cookbook), Peruvian chicken bathing in marinade, a pitcher of peach iced tea, a vat of Asian barbecue sauce (another cookbook recipe), a jar of homemade preserved lemons, and a United Nations of condiments.

What must you always have in your fridge and can't live without?

A big ol' hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano, chipotles in adobo, tubes of anchovy and tomato pastes, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. They're my go-tos for punching up a recipe.

Photo by Words to Eat By
What is the weirdest thing in there?

A gag can of Duff beer, Homer Simpson's favorite. I have no idea how it got there, and it's buried behind so many condiments that nobody has ever noticed it. Some gag.

What's the most embarrassing thing in there?

A bottle of sparkling wine left over from our wedding. Six years ago. Yeah, someday we'll drink that.

What's your guilty pleasure food-wise?

If we're talking refrigerator, it's in the freezer: Hershey's with Almonds. At room temperature I can't stand the stuff -- tastes like wax to me -- but the snappy cold version is ridiculously satisfying.

What do you wish was in there?

A bottomless supply of cherries. I could eat them by the bushel. And in the freezer, the same thing but with ice cream.

Where is your fave place to shop?

I'm a big fan of Fairway. Amazing, abundant produce at mostly great prices, excellent meats and fish, a big organic foods section ... even the freezer cases have awesome stuff (SoCo Creamery "dirty chocolate" ice cream, I'm looking at you). If Fairway went out of business (the horror!), I'd say Trader Joe's.

Favorite part of the fridge?

I gotta say, I hate my fridge. It's from 1970-something, it's too small, and every so often it makes these weird, extremely loud chirping noises -- we think it's an alien trying to signal the mothership. But my landlady insists that as long as the food is cold, everything's hunky-dory.

What's on the outside of your fridge?

I'm a mom, so I suppose it's a given: Preschooler artwork and photos of said preschooler, mostly. And a nifty notepad and pen with a magnet attached -- perfect for shopping lists.

What are you up to now?

When I'm not auditioning new recipes, I'm writing or hanging with my men. Or coordinating the 100+ new moms who are testing recipes for "Parents Need to Eat Too" (more are always welcome, btw!). Or sleeping. Sometimes I sleep.

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