Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Back Slowly Away From The Gladware, Ma'am, With Your Hands Up

Welcome to a new feature - the Wednesday Fridge Follies! Each Wednesday I clean out my refrigerator (and I use clean in the loosest sense of the term here) and take a picture of everything I end up throwing away. This exercise in public humiliation should make me take a good hard look at the amount of waste in our household and cause me to reevaluate our food storage habits, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint for our family and more food for others to eat.

Or, it could just be an exercise in public humiliation, right? So, let's get on with it:

What's in SuburbanCorrespondent's fridge? (with apologies to Holly's fruitbowl)

Not too bad this week, actually. Here we have numerous gladware containers, no fewer than 2 of them containing past-their-prime baby carrots. When I open a bag of baby carrots, I don't want the unused ones to dry up in an opened bag in the fridge. So, smart housewife that I am, I store the remaining carrots in a gladware container full of water, which keeps 'em crisp - a nifty trick I learned while working food service in college. (See, MadMad? That college degree wasn't wasted.)

Where was I? So, now, instead of drying up, the baby carrots sort of rot in the water because, the next time I need some baby carrots, I can't find the container in my mess of a refrigerator and open up a new bag instead.

The container next to the carrots contains some cut-up scallions that I thriftily saved (in theory, at least) for another meal. At least they made it to the cutting-up stage, unlike their sorry-looking brethren above them. That's 2 bunches of scallions I unearthed from the meat drawer, folks. Looks like I had something yummy planned! Sure wish I knew what it was.

[David, in a fit of compassion, rescued these 2 bunches, chopped their wilted tops off, and replanted the bulbs outside on our deck. 3 cheers for David!]

Moving on....to the left of the carrots is a glass dish half-full (or you can call it half-empty if you like) of homemade sloppy joes. These are a family favorite, so I cannot figure out why there were any leftovers (unless, of course, this particular container was pushed to the back of my black hole of an icebox and wasn't recovered in time). Atop the sloppy joes is a (you guessed it) gladware container full of peas and rice. I don't even remember what meal this was from. Out it goes!

To the left of the sloppy joes are 2 containers of cream cheese. This is curious, as we generally don't allow open containers of dairy products in our refrigerator (due to Theo's milk allergy). We must have treated the kids to bagels and thought the leftover cream cheese was too good to waste (at least, not without letting it go green in our refrigerator first). Yuk. I don't remember when we had bagels, either.

Peeking out from behind the cream cheese is a jar of homemade Italian salad dressing that we made when I had some guests over, which was...let's see....the 4th of July! 3 weeks being the statute of limitations of abandoned homemade dressing (says me), it's time for us to bid arrivederci to this particular item. Besides, we have another jar of it in the fridge. I guess I made too much.

See that big metal bowl behind the scallions? It is full of peach skins. We made peach cobbler yesterday and the skins we peeled off tasted so good that we saved them. Because we would feel bad tossing something that tastes good. So we waited until today, when they all turned brown....

There's an interesting story behind that metal bowl. You see, I spent years and years picking up used Tupperware from yard sales and thrift stores; but what I really hoped to find were some stainless steel bowls complete with storage lids. They were the holy grail of my bargain-shopping for over a decade until, finally, a couple of years ago, I admitted defeat. I forked over Larry's hard-earned money for a brand-new set of 3 bowls with lids.

I loved those bowls. I admired their shininess, their usefulness (good for cooking and storage!), and the way they nested so space-savingly in my cupboard. Our relationship was, of course, too good to last. Only 2 months into it the lid for the largest bowl (pictured) went missing. Gone - just like that, leaving a hole in my heart that couldn't be filled. I never found it. Not even when we moved last year and I was sure it would turn up, under the stove or behind the refrigerator.

And now, now... the lid to the smallest bowl is gone, also. Off to join its brother, I suppose, wherever plastic storage lids do go, leaving their owners bereft and hopeless and wrestling with recalcitrant saran wrap.

But I digress. It's time to stop mourning and move on. Behind all the food is a yellow plate with 1/2 an egg sandwich that Susie left over at lunch. What do you say, folks? Should I wrap it in foil and pretend that someone is going to eat it later and then suffer the embarrassment of taking a picture of it one week from now? Or should I just toss it now?

As a parting note, I would like to point to my culinary accomplishment of the week. It's not all rotting food and moldy veggies here, folks. Sometimes something good happens in my kitchen. And this week, it was this stuff to the right: 8 jars of homemade peach jam (well, 4 jars of jam and 4 jars of not-quite-jelled peach something-or-other) and 4 quarts of homemade tomato sauce (plus 1/2 a quart which is...um....somewhere in my refrigerator).

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42 comments:

  1. But what does Larry say about disclosing the outgoing contents of your refrigerator on a weekly basis? Someone could match up what's in your dumpster with the list on your blog, and find you.

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  2. The not quite jelled peach something or other? Use it as topping on ice cream. I know of what I speak!

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  3. I'm so glad that someone else's fridge looks like this. I do this fun job each week on Garbage Day. You know it's gotten bad when you have to throw away perfectly good tupperwear because you can't face washing off the mold growing up the sides.

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  4. You are actually throwing out more food than I have in my refrigerator right now! But the kids are eating dinner at VBS this week and my husband is dieting so all he is eating is salads.

    Looks like you just need to do a weekly leftovers night. That would eliminate all the waste, cut out one night of cooking for you and keep you from having to hang your head in shame every week.

    Holly and her fruitbowl would be very dissapointed!

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  5. That Kalynne is crackin' me right up! You know, I've just given up on buying food. That way you don't have to throw it out. Oh, sure, the peeps are hungry, but you know, wha-evah... I'm sure if they look hard enough, there'll be some crackers somewhere...

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  6. You are one brave woman, indeed. Off subject-I have to tell you that for some reason, when I read your "mail," I always pronounce it "Sub-urban Correspondent." Why do I do this? I'm a former English major; it's not like I can't pronounce suburban. Must be age. Also, thanks for the suggestions about my kitchen. For some reason, against my better judgment, I feel compelled to paper that one teeny weeny wall ....

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  7. Beth, we ate leftovers for dinner twice in the past week. It's hopeless.

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  8. Thank you so much, now I know I am not alone...

    I'm quite sure something in my fridge is plotting it's escape. My MotherInLaw arrives for SIX WEEKS on Sunday so I have to get my ass in gear and clean out the fridge. (Along with various closets but eh, whatever.)

    You're my hero...

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  9. I just tossed a few things today in preparation for going to the market tomorrow. I hate when I find food I've completely forgotten about.

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  10. You are brave. But I like the concept - it forces you to get it cleaned out. And I have also thrown away good tupperware because I couldn't handle cleaning out the mold... oy

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  11. You should host a Mr. Linky every week encouraging others to join in the fun. Our Fridgidaires would all thank you.

    KEEP BELIEVING

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  12. I was thinking about that. I just have to figure out how to do it.

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  13. That's why I use the cheaper plastic containers. Because there are some things a woman shouldn't have to face...

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  14. I'm so thrifty I never throw left overs out. Until I find them in my fridge a month later. Why do I do that?

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  15. OK, canning is impressive. Those looks delicious. Yummy peach!

    And the lids...well, I guess they're like socks in the dryer - always disappearing.

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  16. 4 jars of peach syrup for pancakes and french toast! Love the fridge tales.

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  17. There are some containers that just can't (and shouldn't) be saved.

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  18. Weird. 18 months ago when I packed all of our belongings into a storage pod, I found a bunch of extra platic lids! Perhaps our houses were cosmicly linked? The funny thing is, I couldn't bring myself to throw them away! I am actually allowing my husband's employer to pay for storing lids for which I know darn well there are no containers. It's an ilness I tell ya.

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  19. Wow, you clean your fridge every week?

    We should have made peach jam. We've got a lot of peaches rotting on the ground.

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  20. Lids always go away. They can't be tamed; they must be wild and free.

    And home-made peach jam!! Can I have some? Please?

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  21. Girl, that jam looks GOOD!

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  22. Hey! I spy an Italian word! Mamma Mia!!

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  23. 4 jars of homemade peach ice cream topping?

    Also would be good as a glaze for pork chops, or on pancakes and waffles. Yum, yum!

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  24. No fruit bowl apologies needed. I would suggest that it be a roving Wednesday feature where you could stop by and clean out my fridge too. I might be able to up you by a few dried out carrot sticks. And I suddenly have some rotting fruit...

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  25. http://todbrilliant.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/starvation.jpg

    You asked for humiliation, but this is not funny to me. What would these kids think of your pictures of wasted food? I post this not in maliciousness, but in sincere hope that we might rethink our attitude towards consumption and waste. I know we can't give the left over food in our fridge to these children, but I think it rots in there as a symptom of a bigger illness - thoughtlessness and mindless overuse of the resources on this planet. I am a terrible offender - I have gradually gotten better, but still waste enough to make me hang my head in shame when I look at this image. Can't we do better, for ourselves and our children?

    Brandi

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  26. Oh, most definitely, Brandi - it does upset me that, despite my best efforts, this food ends up being wasted. I think making jokes about it is my way of dealing with the guilt. It doesn't mean I'm celebrating the waste!

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  27. You have inspired me to clean out my fridge.
    However, garbage day was Tuesday, so I think I'll need to wait until Monday. I'm sure by then there will be even more things I can clean out.

    At our house we have a saying concerning leftovers. "Do we throw it away now, or put it in the fridge and wait for it to go bad?"

    It's just easier to throw away food after it's gone moldy.

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  28. THE LIDS! Sweet baby jesus, where do they go? I have five lovely pyrex bowls that ALL had lids once upon a time. Now? ONE! SOB!

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  29. Your post is raising the age-old question: Why do I save leftovers that I know that nobody is going to eat, but can't throw them out until they have green fur growing on them?

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  30. Once a week fridge cleaning?! I'm impressed!

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  31. I am trying to make a weekly meal plan so that I know just what we are having and how many days of leftovers we will have. I also make sure to store some things in small "lunch" containers for DH, and make sure they are FRONT and CENTER...otherwise he forgets them and we have waste. This week made a beef stew that has already been two meals, and will be leftovers on Saturday. I still throw some stuff out, but mostly, I just MAKE somebody eat it on leftover night! However, celery, that has a sad, sad, life in my house.

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  32. AnonymousJuly 31, 2008

    I don’t buy it and let it go bad, you don’t buy it and let it go bad, so what happens to the food we don’t buy and let go bad? Does it set in the stores and go bad there?
    I agree, I hate it everytime I throw away food. The only time my conscience doesn’t kill me is when I justify it with, “It’s rotten, no one can eat it now,” and in the trash it goes. Since we are all smart women can’t there be a better way? Susie

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  33. No, no, no -- you made 4 jars of peach jam and 4 jars of peach SAUCE, perfect for topping ice cream or layering in a cake with whipped cream! (Glass half-full!)

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  34. congrats on the courage to tell the world about what's crawling in your fridge. thanks for the trick with the baby carrots, that's new to me but so smart!

    my advice on the scallions and any other fresh spice such as parsley, cut it all up when it's still wet from those sprinklers in the grocery store (or when you pick it in the garden, after cleaning it) and put it in a ziploc. store it in the freezer and whenever you need the spice you can just take a little from the bag. because the spice was wet when frozen it is like you just picked it when you actually use it. *my mommy taught me that trick*proud*

    franzi

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  35. As I was reading this, I kept asking myself, "Why are you so interested in the contents of someone else's refrigerator?" It was like a train wreck. I couldn't stop reading, no matter how much I wanted to.

    I might just join your club, simply because cleaning out my refrigerator once a week would be a huge accomplishment for me. Plus, I'm a little low on content lately.

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  36. I have those bowls, they are wonderful. I even keep them in the original box when I'm not using them.

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  37. I am so glad to see that my family is not alone in their wasteful and distasteful food habits;) The jam looks good--peaches--Yum!

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  38. My family inhales everything but the handles on the fridge, so I never have to throw anything away. Lucky me, LOL

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  39. I view our fridge as a lay-over for left-overs on their way to the garbage. I can't quite get myself to throw away perfectly good food at the end of a meal - even if it's less than a full serving and I know that no one will ever eat it. However, once it has been in the fridge for long enough to become gross, then I have no choice but to throw it out.

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  40. I personally very much look forward to this little weekly feature--I at first walk away a little self-righteous--and then I open my fridge and (yikes) see the carnage and confess my sins....
    Blessings!

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  41. Hillarious! I am so impressed that you clean your refrigerator every week! Wow! And now I'm doubly impressed that you CAN!

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