Cleaning up the Kitchen

For some reason I felt like conducting a purge this weekend. It rained for most of the day Saturday and when the rain stopped the humidity made it feel like someone was steam pressing your shirt while you wore it. So, I milled about the kitchen cooking a few things and just kind of staring at the accumulated detritus of various recipes and ideas gone wrong.

Why did I have so many packages of extra butter microwave popcorn when my family usually just eats a bowl of Tiny But Mighty from the Whirly-Pop? Never mind that the stuff might actually be hazardous to your health.

What were we doing with various containers of frosting and decorating items that had expiration dates as far back as three years prior? The mini M&Ms, chocolate stars, whipped fudge frosting, and strange confetti cake mix all went into the trash.

Before long I had discovered I had filled an entire tall kitchen bag with food that was long expired, potentially bad for me, or just plain mysterious. It felt good in the same vein as spring cleaning or taking all the stuff out of your garage to really get at the accumulated grime.

However, things took a decidedly unexpected turn this morning. We woke up to a refrigerator that had ceased to cool food sometime in the past twenty four hours. The freezer was okay, so it is likely just to be a problem with the defrost cycle or ice buildup near the ducts that blow cold air into the refrigerator. Regardless, we spent a good portion of the morning chucking room temperature yogurt because we had no clue how long it had been in that particular state.

Like the pantry I started to wonder why I had so many condiments and how old some of those sauces really were? What does one do with a quart of Panda Express orange sauce? I do not know nor do I care to discover an answer because that gloppy stuff went right into the trash. Ditto the various salad dressings that no one could remember purchasing. Really, when did I buy that Honey Dijon Wasabi salad dressing?

Looking at a completely bare refrigerator is an odd experience. One, it’s a great opportunity to clean all the drawers and shelves that rarely see a scrub brush. Two, it’s a great chance to really think about what food you keep around. Some social theorists believe that our refrigerators make us fat because we keep high calorie foods in easy to consume vehicles—think cheese sticks which should really be called little fat twigs—which would be impossible without huge refrigerators. As I restock my refrigerator over the next couple of weeks—assuming that it is as easy a fix as my friendly appliance repair person thinks it will be—I will be intrigued to see what makes the cut.

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