By: Lisa Batten Kunkleman
Are you over the leftovers yet? Does your fridge need a diet or a full-on cleanse? Does your dishwasher need a vacation? How to ensure all the food gets eaten the week after Thanksgiving is a conundrum for many, especially those of us raised in the ‘waste not, want not’ generation. There are all sorts of hacks out there to do just that. Heck, I even boiled down the nearly naked turkey carcass for broth I don’t like and made turkey pastry out of it. That’s turkey and dumplings for people outside of eastern North Carolina. I go to extremes to avoid tossing anything edible, but now I have a new dilemma. What do I do with all that pastry that nobody particularly liked, when the countdown monster of how many days the leftovers are edible is right behind me? Those noodles can’t go in the compost bin since it’s filled with poultry scent. We could draw coyotes and cats from miles around with that stinky rich broth. We could put it in the trash, but that’s stinky and gross. We can’t feed it to Fido named Tucker, because more than a little bit would be far too rich for his tender system. I might dig a hole and bury it away from the house and let nature take its course. At least I’d feed the earth worms.
About that fridge. Let’s call him Fred. Fred has gone from a state of being filled with uncooked foods, to stacked with cooked foods and partially eaten foods, to piled with foods that travel in and out of the fridge every day hoping to provide sustenance and not return. But do they return? Yes they do. They seem to multiply like the loaves and fishes in the Bible. To prove the amount is shrinking, the food has shifted residences from large Corning Ware Casseroles to medium-sized Rubbermaid containers with the cranberries going into small margarine tubs. The veggies started cohabiting, the butter beans, green beans, and collards moved into a five-by-seven oval Pyrex condo with their own personal areas and a flat rubber roof. That rooftop served as a solid patio space for other condos to stack and hang out in Fred and was a big help with conserving tinfoil atop pies, since aluminum wrap is a flimsy material for stacking.
On to the dishwasher which is an underappreciated appliance if I ever saw one. Let’s call him Doug. Doug tells me there are far too many people who believe the appliance ad hype about not needing to scrape off food residue and prerinse. I’ve researched this topic, since our household doesn’t have a garbage disposal thanks to the offhanded comment of a plumber twenty years ago. He told my husband that garbage disposals were bad if you had a septic system. Therefore, we must scrape our food somewhere besides down the sink. So, do we choose the trashcan, the compost bin, or the mouth of Tucker waiting at our feet for the slightest morsel to drop? Does the food that goes into poor Doug’s belly just disappear? Poof? Nope. Surprise! It swirls around beating against all the unrinsed and pre-rinsed dishes making them dirtier than when they entered the rack. Those squishy bits spread slime and grit throughout the machine where they wet, lather, and rinse, like we do our hair, except, thank goodness for us, we don’t have a tornado of crud flying around the shower to land all over us, only to stick and dry. If we did, we’d look and smell like the cloudy glasses that come from a dirty dishwasher. Cascade can’t fix the problem. Simple people like you and me, we can fix this.
And another thing, the gobbledy gook, see what I did there, (gobble, get it?) and greasy gunk in your pots that would never cross a wise person’s lips would make your own little Fido quite happy. Instead of wasting water to get rid of grease, wipe it out with a paper towel, trash it, and maybe finish wiping the pan with a slice of bread or half eaten biscuit and treat Fido to the highlight of his day. You know those big eyes and furrowed brows make you want to give him something good. Just do it, but don’t overdo it. And never share bones or pork. We learned about pork the hard way. Even better, if you want your dishes, pots, and pans super clean, just set them on the floor and let man’s best friend take care of the scraping and prerinsing. Doug can do the sanitizing and the problem is solved.
Tell the truth. Did you know there’s a food trap in the bottom of your dishwasher’s belly that needs to be cleaned of all those tiny pieces of crudola? Hmmm. Lots of people don’t know, so there you go, news you can use. We learn something new every day. Gotta run eat one last day of leftovers before I give Fred a cleanse and give Doug a rest.
Until the next big meal and gathering, Fred will survive on lettuce, carrots, milk, eggs, and a zillion condiments. Fred isn’t the only one who needs a cleanse.