Eclectic would be an understatement for the collection of things my roommate has acquired from households past. Before today, my experience with the kitchen was as follows: drinking water out of glass jars, doing dishes with a pink fuzzy, burning all sorts of food on dented pans, catching fruit flies in balsamic vinegar traps, and squeezing minimal food items into a full refrigerator and freezer. I decided to start my Friday afternoon project after opening the freezer for ice and being showered with frozen items slipping from their precarious placements. Since bags and boxes of half eaten frozen foods were already on the floor, the freezer seemed like a good place to start.
How to clean out a freezer when none of the food belongs to you:
Step One- examine the food on top for expiration dates and/or recent handling activity. I like to approach freezers as a geologist approaches layers of rock. If the food on top is expired or completely unused, chances are that everything below that point is older and more expired than the things on top. My excavation was a little trickier, as I started off with my top most layers landsliding to the kitchen floor.
Step Two- err on the side of throwing things out. If the roommate is upset in the end, tell them you will replace everything of value by either buying or making the missing item. The kicker with this solution is that the roommate has to remember what was thrown out to claim it missing. I don't think I will have a problem in this situation, as most the food dated back past January of 2008. I also cleared out two full garbage bags before reaching the bottom of the freezer, which left me incredibly impressed with the actual volume of our appliance. Nice work freezer.
Step Three- make sure you empty the freezer near garbage day or when you know you will have a few days of cool weather. Unfortunately, I completely avoided this step and filled our trash with spoiling consumables two days after garbage pick-up and during a record breaking week for hot temperatures. Go me! Hopefully this place won't smell too similar to a landfill as the week goes on.
My favorite finds of the freezer were a paper bag with large chunks of chocolate and half a bottle of Sambuca di Amore imported liquor.
After the freezer, I moved on to draws and cabinets. Oye vey! This took forever! One by one, I pulled out the drawers and their contents, emptied them on the floor, marveled at how much paper could be crammed in one drawer, and started at cleaning up the mess. Aside from some basics, the drawers had no apparent rhyme or reason to their contents. On drawer had grocery bags on top, bamboo skewers and chopsticks on the bottom and blank cards scattered throughout the middle. Two hours later, I'm fitting the last drawer back into place with its contents tamed and organized. I wonder how long my efforts will last.
The cabinets were a different story from the drawers. More glass jars, a pile of flour weevils, electric appliances that one could spend all day guessing at the usefulness, lots of empty boxes, and my favorite item of the day, a bag of silverware. After getting everything removed, cleaned, organized and put away, I decided to explore the bag of mysterious silverware. First I separated the spoons from the forks and knives. Then I tried to put spoon with matching spoon, fork with similar fork, and knife with anything that looked like it belonged together. Not a single piece of silverware matched any other piece of silverware. What a task to either collect the silverware from lost sets over time, or picking through second hand stores to get the pieces fitting perfectly in their completely mismatched sets. I arranged them and took pictures of my findings.
The kitchen and my Friday, there you have it! Hopefully next weekend I will be climbing Mt. Baker with my beloved family, so as not to be left to my own devises and proving myself crazier and crazier every day.