What are you doing this weekend? It is suppose to be cold and rainy (if not snowy) and crappy and just not a good weekend to be hanging outside, which makes it the perfect weekend to spend some time inside, SPRING CLEANING! Haha. Doesn't cleaning get you excited? No, well, sorry for you. Me, I like to clean, and I really like to tackle jobs that really really need to be tackled, like cleaning out the fridge. And a crappy weather spring weekend is probably the best time to do it.
The refrigerator. My pride and joy of the kitchen. It's an old harvest gold Fridgaire from like 1970. This is the fridge I spent almost a year hunting down and finally finding on craigslist from a man who was cleaning out his dead mothers house. The fridge that I almost gave up on when I couldn't find it and almost bought a big stainless steal thing instead.mBut last minute, I found it, like it was meant to be. And this fridge has a story all of it's own. It was a prize won by on of the ladies daughters from a cereal company contest. The family kept it for all these years and took such good care or it because of that. A well cared for and loved fridge. It is a good one with faux wood trim and metal shelving. It keeps my food cold and frozen (sometimes frozen when it shouldn't be. The back top shelve in the fridge has a few cold spots the might freeze whatever is there. My solution to that is to not stick things in the cold spots.) and is just as pretty as can be. Some people question it, don't understand why I didn't just buy a matching fridge to my stainless steal stove, but you know what, if you don't like it, well I really don't care. It makes me happy and I love it.
And to what goes on on the inside. To know me is to know what is inside of my refrigerator. It is always packed. There is and always will be carrots, beets, lemon, cabbage, turmeric, greens, greens, and more greens in there. There will always be some hummus of some kind, mustard, bread dough, tofu, and lots and lots of any and every veggies you can think of. Plus a bunch of jars and container, which I have a bad habit of not placing lids on all the time, full of lentils and beans, rice, and quinoa. There is usually a baked sweet potato or some squash and more likely the not, tomatoes and plant milk. In the freezer, well that's getting pretty empty now, but after harvest in the fall, it is packed to the brim with bags of frozen veggies. Now it has a few bags of veggies, frozen bananas and berries,flours, and nuts. But the fridge, The fridge is always full. And it an get a little messy....
And now I it's time to clean it out.
I spot clean and straighten it out often. Usually before I pick up farm share I go through it and tidy up, make more space, and pull stuff out that needs to be eaten first. But that is just the surface cleaning. Stuff gets sticky, stuff gets stuck, and especially with veggies, stuff gets dirty. Spot cleaning has a place but it's not cutting it anymore. It's spring and it's time for a full fledge deep clean.
Now I know most people have their own methods for cleaning but here are a few tips and techniques that I have to tackle the beast.
-Prepare. You don't want to just go at it without a plan and supplies. Get out your cleaning supplies. Grab a recycling can and a compost bucket, and have a big lean surface ready to place stuff on. The vacuum or a broom should be handy too.
-Cleaning solutions. It is a fridge so you don't want to be cleaning it with a bunch of chemicals. What I use is a vinegar solution. 50/50 white vinegar and water and a squirt of dish soup. It cleans, degreases, disinfects, and won't kill you.
-An empty sink or bathtub to wash all the drawers and shelving off.
-A few clean containers. Just have them on hand, with lids, to place stray things roaming around in there.
-Clean from top to bottom. This avoids crap falling into something you already cleaned.
-Labels. Any containers that are not clear might benefit from a label. And if you tend to leave things in the fridge for a long time, a label for the date of opening is also a good idea.
-Inventory. Knowing what is in the fridge is very important, this prevents food waste.
-Too many condiments. I don't know how many times I have looked in peoples fridges and seen 5 different bottles of ketchup or Italian dressings open. Consolidate. And if you don't like it or don't use it, get rid of it.
-Wipe it all down. Not just the fridge itself, but all the stuff going back into it. So many times I have stuck the soy sauce in the door and had it leaked all over.
-Know your fridge and place accordingly. Most people don't have super old fridges, but even the new ones have some quirks. Know if there are cold spots or dead zones or places that things get stuck and place food accordingly. Also think about where you are placing food. It don't make sense to but the milk way in the back if you use it all the time.
-Under and behind. Don't forget to clean under the fridge and behind the fridge. It will be dusty, maybe a little gross, but it must be done.
-Music. A good playlist is always going to make you better are cleaning.
As for the Use it Up Soup, do just that. This is the perfect time to use up what you got. I know that I have way more veggies then the average person, but don't let that stop you. You could even pull stuff out and fill in missing ingredients form the store if you want. And be creative, pickled hot peppers, all the frozen veggies, any wilted greens. Even almost empty bottles of mustard. If you think it sounds good in soup, use it up. Add some canned tomatoes and a handful of spice, you are gonna end up with something tasty.
. A clean fridge and soup, how can it get any better?
The before. Veggies all over. Jars and containers stacked, with and without lids. A stray half of banana, and empty water bottle, and a half eaten salad in a bowl just having out. The shelves are kind of gross. The veggie drawers are nasty, and I think almost everything is wet because I dumped over a container of tofu the other day and all the tofu water leaked all over...... This deep clean was a long time coming.
I always have so many bags and containers of veggies and beans in the fridge.
The stuff in the door too. This is actually a lot of crap. The last dinner party we had someone brought over salad dressings. The mr and I don't use salad dressing, but I guess it's not so bad to have them here. The littles like them and I know that they will be eaten.
And the stuff that is going to be soup. I found a wrinkly parsnip, some celery, carrots, a few cooked potatoes, some cooked butternut squash and a half a kale and carrot salad. The jar of almost gone lentils, and jar of tomatoes. Some ginger and turmeric root which is always is the fridge. A rutabaga, some cabbage, an onion, and I also grabbed some frozen green beans and the rest of the frozen rhubarb ( resh rhubarb is on it's way)
I chopped it all up, tossed it into a big pot. Added some spices and water and stuck it on the stove to cook away while I got to the cleaning.
After. Clean fridge wand clean food. All organized and pretty.
The freezer before. It looks a little crazy but there really isn't that much in there.
After. I pulled it all out, wiped it down, and put it all back, organized, and wth lids (again, my bad habit of no lids)
And all the while I was cleaning, the soup was cooking.
Clean refrigerator. Makes this lady happy here.
And the reward for all of your cleaning. A big bowl of soup.