Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - July 14, 2006

Food for thought

It hurts my feelings a bit when husband Art tells me I'm not very good at keeping track of what food is in our refrigerator and cupboards. I pride myself on running a fairly efficient household. After all, I'm able to handle a full-time job with all its commitments, drop off and pick up the dry cleaning, make hair, doctor, dentist and orthodontic appointments, take the girls shopping, take Katie to her violin lessons and the library, and remind Art when it's trash day. Surely keeping shelves well-stocked with fresh food shouldn't be a problem.

Well, you wouldn't think so anyway.

Art's main objection is good food that goes bad waiting to be eaten. Of course, it doesn't help that when he cooks, he makes enough for an army. And, like a lot of men, if it is something he likes, he can eat it day after day. But I like more variety and I must admit that I sometimes lose track of just what we have that is waiting to be consumed.

Art claims that making the shopping list is my job because his is doing the shopping. This is actually a good thing because before I had to make a list, I'd buy what I remembered we needed - and sometimes I'd remember the same thing again and again and again!

But I have to grudgingly admit that I'm not good at knowing what we have and what we need.

So, when I went to the refrigerator the other day and opened the crisper drawer, I found some, well, not-so-crisp vegetables - a cucumber turned to slime and a pepper so wrinkled it was starting to fold in on itself. Since I had put both in with a partial head of lettuce, it had turned to mush, too. That same morning, I had discovered a penicillin factory on the bread. Lovely.

I'm lucky some foods never seem to age because of the preservatives in them. We always have plenty of cheese slices and bacon on hand. And, although the pieces may get a bit frostbitten, I have enough chicken breasts in the freezer to make several meals.

Art can be just as bad. He has a chocolate rose wrapped in red foil that daughter Mariya gave him several Valentine's Days ago. It is still lying on a bookshelf in the living room. I'm not sure how he kept from devouring the chocolate right away, but I guess it is because he sees it more as a treasured gift than an item of food.

We also have a frozen turkey from at least five years ago sitting in our freezer. Art bought it when it was on sale and then found another one for our Thanksgiving Day dinner that year. He says he's hesitant to use it because it might not taste quite right after roasting it.

But he doesn't want to get rid of it either.

I think he gets that from his mother. Because she was a young wife when the Depression began, she tries not to throw anything out. One time when we were visiting her, Art discovered a partially-used bag of potato chips that were bought for a casserole made months before. She "re-crisped" them in her oven, declaring they were still perfectly edible. Art said that while it was true they once again would snap rather than fold, the treatment had done nothing for the fat that had apparently turned rancid.

Another time a few years ago, he discovered a homemade cranberry loaf in her freezer from 1967! He ate it, saying that while it was a bit dry, the cranberries had retained quite a bit of moisture.

Ugh! I don't like wasting food, but I'm not willing to go quite that far.

Recently there has been news about new-fangled refrigerators you can query from your work computer or cell phone. And, with some retailers looking at putting individual radio identification tags on every item in the store, the Fridge could keep track of all the food you have.

Hmm . . . food for thought!

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