Monday, September 30, 2013

#kitchncure Day 1: Fridge and Freezer Edition

You know how when you spend time traveling, things start to slip? Well, I've been home for something like three weekends since the beginning of May, and one of the things that's slipped is the kitchen. Cleaning it out and up has become a big job. The Kitchn Cure 2013 is just what the doctor ordered.

It's an online autumn group clean-up. It goes like this: you take "before" shots of your kitchen, especially problem areas. Each day this week The Kitchn e-mails you a "to-do" for the kitchen and you set aside about an hour to do it, then you photograph it and share for bragging rights.

I'm in for anything that will turn this job into bite-sized chunks. So I'm in.

Today's job was de-clutter and clean the fridge and freezer. Hoo boy.

So, so full...     Warning: freezer burn within.

They were damn full. Which meant they were filled with stuff that had expired or fallen victim to freezer burn - or even if it hadn't, it had been in there forever and was probably going to stay in there forever without intervention. I knew this, but going through it all is a big job. The Kitchn had a helpful rule to tackle this problem: be merciless. If you're not using it, or if it's been sitting in the fridge unused for 6-12 months and you're holding onto it to avoid wasting it, stop. I figure I can use the guilt to keep myself from buying stuff I don't need in the future. So I dove in.

The Fridge
Step one was pulling everything out of there, disassembling the fridge and giving the whole thing a warm, soapy bath. I did not take pictures of the barbecue sauce that had spilled under the produce drawers or the oil/sauce/kimchi juice marks on the glass shelves. No one needs to see that. But it was there, and now it's not.

Take that, clutter!
Now that it's clean, it's so pretty! There's loads of space, which is good because I am short on a few staples and don't have to worry about where to put them and because I can see everything I have! There's no digging, shuffling or rearranging to get to stuff. I don't have to remember that the confit gizzards at the back left of the bottom shelf while the confit garlic is somewhere up top - they're next to each other and easily visible right up front. And if the kimchi explodes again I'll be able to see and intervene right away.

To celebrate, I pulled a duck out of the chest freezer and set it neatly on the bottom shelf to thaw for dinner later this week.

I don't know why it's appealing to share all of this, but it is. Onward.

I have two freezers: the one over the fridge and a small chest freezer in the basement. In theory, stuff that needs to be easily accessible stays upstairs whereas stuff that's being stored for later goes to the basement.

In theory.

Both freezers were practically overflowing (though the chest freezer has been worse) with stuff that I hadn't been able to bring myself to throw out or that I'd forgotten was even in there. No more! Here are the piles of things that I threw away:

From the upstairs freezer. How? How did it all fit?     Chest freezer refuse makes an unsuccessful escape attempt.

For some reason the stuff from the basement turned into an action shot... but you get the idea. We have this organic waste bins in Ottawa... mine is basically full now. It's a good thing garbage day is only a day away.

And the finished product?

Herbs on the bottom, snacks on the top in the door and everything on the shelves visible.     It's all safe now, Jim.

So much better! I can see things! And everything that's in here is fit to be used.

There you go - a great way to spend a couple of hours. I'm feeling slightly less angsty about my kitchen, I didn't get sucked into a whole day (or an all-nighter) of cleaning because I know that tomorrow I'll have another bite-sized chunk to accomplish.