My freezer is a big white box that purrs quietly in the back of our garage.
I think of it as a museum of culinary failures and a hiding place for all things Tupperware.
I avoid it whenever I can.
On those rare occasions when I am required to dive into its frozen depths, I put on warm gloves, a thick parka (even in July) and tell someone where I am going and when I plan to be back.
This is because digging through all the things in the freezer that I do not want – in order to find the things I do – is a laborious task and very risky business.
Recently my wife sent me out there for a pound of hamburger.
I began by removing items from the freezer and piling them on the concrete. I figured that by methodically emptying the freezer, sooner or later a pound of hamburger would emerge.
First I removed a layer of plastic yogurt containers. Each held a quart of soup or stew that was so appalling, we chose to freeze it rather than eat it.
Next came bake sale items purchased out of social obligation at charity fund raisers (the good stuff never made it home).
Under that lay the discount items from the Quicke-Mart. These were less appealing than the soup or stew – but price always trumps taste.
Another row down, I found the ice-cream that the grandchildren refused to eat (think about what it takes for ice-cream to be rejected by a child).
Below that appeared a seam of good intentions.
And lastly came the steaks, roasts, ribs and hams that came from the various deals we got by buying a quarter of a quarter of a quarter of some extremely large animal. Granted the meat was delicious – but we never knew we had it because there was so much stuff on top of it.
It is where I found the hamburger.
Back in the kitchen, I complained about this sad state of affairs.
“I don’t even know what most of that stuff is,” I complained.
“Well, if you would label and date it, you would know… Wouldn’t you?”
Standing right there in the kitchen, a light bulb came on. It was one of those incandescent bulbs that you only see in cartoons because the EPA won’t let you buy them – but a bulb like that, glowing over your head means you just had a fabulous idea.
My wife is a fanatic about freshness dates. She checks the dates on everything. She even checks for dates on bottled water.
So I stealthy pocketed a marker pen and snuck it out to the garage where I labeled and dated every container I found in the freezer.
When I was done, I yelled, “Hey hon, you might want to check some of this stuff. The dates are kinda old.”
An eerie silence engulfed the kitchen – then there she was, arms folded, framed by the garage door.
“Don’t lie to me,” she said, “did you back-date the containers in the freezer?”
“I did,” I told her, “ but I honestly couldn’t tell you which ones.”
So I got to throw them all out.