The Great Fridge Clean-out

Tuesday. CSA day again. That means a whole new lot of veggies invades come 6pm.

Much to my chagrin, I woke up yesterday to find last week’s veggies for the most part unscathed and staking valuable fridge real estate in their plastic sheathes. A bit problematic seeing as it was Tuesday.

Faced with such grim under-consumption during my morning coffee, I ventured to roast, preserve or eat everything vegetable-like in the fridge by CSA pick-up. I don’t usually undertake whole days of cooking (hell, I’m not great with normal feats of sustenance cooking), but the situation was desperate. I’d ignored the fridge for way too long.

A quick run-down of accomplishments:

  • Pint jar of fridge-pickles, mix of scallions and radishes in brown rice vinegar
  • Roasted two tomatoes, a purple carrot, a leek, a cippolini onion and a sweet bell pepper for future veggie and mozzarella quiche
  • Roasted beets, preserved lemon and arugula salad for my writing group (recipe below)
  • Sauteed fennel radish snack (recipe below)
  • Vat of leftover chicken bones from freezer and the day’s veg scraps simmered while other kitchen antics ensued, yield 2.5 quarts of stock
  • Two flaky, gluten-free pie crusts assembled and in the fridge, one for quiche and the other for Autumn’s birthday sweet treat.

Schedule of events:

Noon: Oven on. Beet wrapping commenced and veg assortment arranged on cookie sheet.

12:30pm: Pickled scallions complete. Investigate roasting progress.

1pm: Realized I’d only eaten cottage cheese and some Pirates Booty all day. There were still more veggies to use up so I conjured my inner Julia (Child) and pulled out the butter.

Radish fennel delight

I dropped 2 Tbs butter in a skillet, sliced 1 whole fennel bulb (sans the round core at the base), 3 white radishes (thinly), salt and crushed pepper to taste and sauteed until the veggies were slightly browned. I added 1 Tbs more butter midway through because I believe one can’t have too much of the stuff. I tore up a few sprigs of cilantro to garnish.

Roasted beet, preserved lemon and arugula salad

First step, how to roast a beet:

I roasted three beets, two large one small, by wrapping them in tin foil loosely, placing them in a 425 degree F oven, and letting them hang out in there for about 2 hours (the smaller one could’ve come out sooner, oops). To assess doneness, I stuck a fork in them (and faced no resistance). When done, open up the foil and let them cool for 10-20 min. Peel the wrinkly skin off, slice ‘em up and do whatever you please with them.

I added to my sliced, roasted beets a good coating of olive oil, a finely-diced, section of preserved meyer lemon peel with some jus, a handful of arugula chopped into bite sized chunks and about 1 Tbs of finely-chopped greener parts of a scallion. Add salt if you’re not using preserved lemons (which are already rather salty). I cubed a bit of mozarella since I also had some of that in my fridge (and wasn’t about to go out to buy more things for the fridge, even if it was just feta), any crumbly cheese would work well.

1:30pm: Ravenous eating. What a delicious way to clean out the fridge!

2pm: Lost steam, shunned prospect of dish-doing and laid on the couch to start a blog post [ahem].

3pm: I realized that no one was going to make my gluten-free pie crust (for said quiche). I rallied, tricked myself into dishes by imagining how nice it will be to not cook for two days. (I love leftovers.)

3:30pm: Crisis. Rascal (and rather large) orange cat jumped up on the counter and flipped the cookie sheet soaking (from the veg roasting session), spraying the entire kitchen, the baker’s rack, the window with soapy, brown, olive oily mess. I couldn’t have made a bigger mess if I’d tried. Devastated.

3:40pm: Rags grabbed, mess mostly sopped. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ mantra on brain repeat.

5:30pm: Entire house swept. Bathroom cleaned. Kitchen mopped. Mild exasperation by so much accomplishment (and more dishes to be done). Oddly pleased by cat/pan disaster since I’d been grouching about the dirty floor (and questionable bathroom sink) for nearly a week.

5:45pm: On bicycle, headed out to (voluntarily) bring another round of vegetables into the house.

This week, I think I’ll try to stay on top of the fridge situation a bit better. What are your fave ways to use up various fridge excess?