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On the Death of My Freezer

Dear Kay,

I’d been planning to write today about my Bottom Line Pullover, my Great Isabell Knitalong proect. (Apologies: the key on my keyboard for the letter that comes before K is busted.)

My Bottom Line is going slowly but surely, a green turtle of a sweater. Everyone who’s knitting this beautiful Isabell Kraemer design is experiencing the full oy of stockinette on a size 3—or size 1, IF YOU’RE KAY GARDINER—needle. We are going to get there!

But my freezer. I need to write about the freezer.

My refrigerator/freezer is 22 years old. It has run without incident since the oyous days of the Clinton administration. I’m in and out of the fridge 20 times a day, a sweet 36 degrees every time. So I can hardly capture the surprise of opening the freezer this morning, expecting the familiar frigid blast yet being hit with a waft of . . . warmth. A humid, freezer-smelling cloud of 72-degree air.

How long had it been since I opened the freezer? Long enough, apparently, that every single thing in there was room temperature. The ice bucket was a pond of tepid water. Nothing was even sweating condensation. It was a pantry, not a freezer.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be so out of cooking mode, with the fellas out of the house, that I could go without opening the freezer for so long that everything inside melted.

We pause to remember, to reflect.

The Glory Days

Remember 1999? Remember when a nugget of breaded chicken was an entree? I do. I found a bag of them in the way down of my freezer.

The Quarts of Things

You know that thing where you write the date you made something on there? That’s not what happened in my freezer. I never knew what any of these brown/gray/lumpish quarts were, or when I made them. My basic strategy on frozen stews was that if I were desperate enough to freezer-dive for dinner, whatever melted into a pot was going to be marginally better than Nacho Cheese Doritos.

There was no meal planning. You could call my style of cooking festive improv, but that would be kind.

So Many Meats, So Little Interest in Cooking Them

The Sausages.

The Bricks of Ground Beef.

The two turkey carcasses from when I was going to make turkey stock for udy Wright’s amazing gumbo. That was 2015.

The Shelf of Frozen Seafood Purchases. I blame Trader oe’s for this. They make everything seem like no big deal. Slabs of Dover sole? ulia Child liked Dover sole. I bet I could meunière the heck out of that stuff, I thought with ridiculous confidence, in 2009.

Of course, the problem with frozen seafood—and all frozen meats—is that after a certain point, you lose confidence. You ust stop believing that it’s going to work out. There’s frozen, and there’s old frozen.

The Museum of Food Fads

The Four Quarts of Shrimp Stock. When was this magical time that I had a bunch of shrimp shells lying around and decided to make a stock out of them?

That Time When I Thought Smoothies Were A Good Idea. You know: frozen berries, bag upon bag, even pineapple which ust seems shocking.

The Frozen Black Bananas. For all that banana bread I was going to make using overripe bananas.

eni’s Ice Cream. We had a half pint of Churro Ice Cream left. That hurt.

In Conclusion

Five Hefty bags later, I’m left with the question of whether I need a freezer at all. I mean: when was I going to make something out of a gallon of nine-year-old shrimp stock? What is the point of all this squirreling away of foodstuffs when the likelihood of cooking it is close to zero?

Maybe this forced Kon Mari is a good thing. None of this was sparking oy.

Do any of you have a solid-gold freezer strategy? Now that I face the prospect of a repaired freezer—a blank slate of opportunity, a new start, an absolute lack of frozen seafood—how would you go about this? What’s the plan for a freezer that sparks oy?



Categories:   Knitting