I only wish my refrigerator was this tidy. Unfortunately, I come from a long line of refrigerator penicillin manufacturers. By that I mean that as long as there has been a contraption resembling an icebox in the homes of my family members, we have been pushing things to the back, hidden for months and letting them grow mold that completely obscures whatever the item once was. It's like the refrigerator version of kudzu. Now while this is great when you are scrambling last minute for a science fair project, it's not particularly appealing visually or gastronomically. And so I've taken to freezing things just before they attain that glossy, iridescent, greenish color that warns of botulism, trichinosis, e-coli, salmonella, or any of the other biggies in the potential food poisoning pantheon. Freezing works. Just ask my friends how long I've been serving up bits of ham leftover from Easter without any of them getting sick, although come to think of it, I don't think they eat what I bring to our gatherings anymore. Hmmm. For their benefit, let me repeat that with emphasis: Freezing works!
But I find myself in a dilemma right now as concerns my refrigerator and I don't think it's one that can be solved by freezing. You see, Thanksgiving is coming up and that means an inordinate amount of "stuff" that must all be crammed willy nilly into the fridge. But there isn't room. I've already tossed the buckets of vegetarian chili that none of us loved much, but will eat at some point because I'm too cheap to throw it out, into the freezer. And after today, the leftovers of the homemade spaghetti sauce, which is darned good if I do say so myself, will be likewise banished to the freezer to be recovered at a later date. And the few other leftovers in there will be offered up as dinner tomorrow night, nevermind that the kids likely didn't love them the first time, which does tend to leave an inordinate amount of leftovers to work through. And so with luck those won't be hogging vital space needed for the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, Cope's dried corn casserole, and whatever other bizarre side dish I decide we just *have* to try out this Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll make up a mess of collards to add a little southern to our generally Pennsylvania Dutch dishes.
But back to the point here. Even with all leftovers cleared out, there's still not enough room in the fridge. And the reason is that I have a refrigerator jammed full of condiments and things I bought in order to make a dish calling for less than the entire bottle or jar of something. Some of these dishes were good and that's why I always have an opened jar of chili sauce in my fridge. Some were okay but didn't wow me enough to want to try and search through my thousands of recipes to figure out exactly which one used the marinated dried tomato slices. And others were just plain gross and so I need something else to make to use up their ingredients, like the thai chili garlic paste. So I thought I'd post a list of some of the ingredients I have had for far too long (might even have moved them here from Michigan, if that isn't too pitiful and cheap to admit) and see if any of you have any wonderful ideas how I can use them in the next week or so and clear up a bit of room for the excessive Thanksgiving feast. Even just clearing out the doors of the fridge will mean I can stash the ever present stuff in there, leaving the body of the big metal box open. Here's what I have to work with:
szechuan stir fry sauce
marinated dried tomato slices
thai chili garlic paste
whole cranberry sauce (which must be used simply because it's old otherwise I'd just save it for Thanksgiving and frankly, I don't like the whole berry stuff anyway; give me the jellied, over-loaded with sugar, can-shaped glob any day of the week and twice on Sunday)
samosa dipping sauce
That's probably enough for now but if you're successful in helping me rid the fridge of these, I might have more ingredients to list next time (and I'll eat a thawed slice of last Easter's ham in your honor).
Other, more appealing posts on food and cooking can be found at Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking post if you need to cleanse your palate after reading this one. ;-) This week Beth's on cookies, which totally trumps my moldy refrigerator woes.