Sunday, June 16, 2013

A Clean Refrigerator, The Hard Way

This is all my fault. I really should know better by now. I noticed a week or so ago that freezer was getting so full that I was having trouble finding room for things. Honestly, things had gotten a bit out of hand sometime last summer/fall, and I really didn't know what all was in there anymore. I mean, I had a general idea (plenty of chicken and ground beef), but as far as a specific count and what precooked but frozen meals were in there, I had lost track. I thought to myself that I really needed to pull everything out of the freezer and toss anything over a year old, but never did. Every time I have a thought like this, Fate decides to "help" me. Maybe a little less help, please!

Thursday night, we were having some wicked storms in the area. I mean scary stuff. Watching the wind whipping around out there was rather freaky. I was ready to snatch up Luke at any moment and dive into the basement! Especially when the sky started looking like this.

I know that's gold, not green, but it was still very eerie. Around 8 PM, our power went out. DH went outside and saw some power lines down near our house. As best he could tell, it was only affecting about 8 houses, naturally one of them ours. Everyone else in the neighborhood seemed to have power. About that time, one of our neighbors appeared. He said he had called power company, who said power should be back on around 11 PM. Okay, no problem. As long as it's back on before morning (and we keep the refrigerator closed), things shouldn't be too bad.

You didn't really think things would be that simple, did you? We woke Friday morning still with no power. We knew most of refrigerator contents were probably toast, but we hoped power would come back soon while we were at work so we could salvage most of the freezer contents. It was packed very full, as I mentioned, and nothing would thaw badly enough to matter in less than 24 hours. Because DH's alarm clock starts "counting time" as soon as the power comes back on, we would be able to tell about when it came back. So we went off to work assuming all would be well when we got home.

At work, I mentioned that our power was out to my manager. "Oh, they mentioned a street on the news and said that area had been hit particularly hard by the storm and power outages, but I couldn't figure out why it sounded familiar. YOU live there!" Yes, that would be us. But we still trusted the power to be back on by the time we got home.

Yeah, right. When we returned home from work, the power STILL was not on! Not only that, the power lines were still down across the road. There were some saw horses up to block the street, but we knew they belonged to our neighbor. Why is *no one* doing anything? I did open the freezer long enough to realize that the contents had now thawed too much to stay good very long if refrozen, but it was still plenty cold enough to cook it safely, if we can just get the power to come back on.

It had been very hot for several days, and Friday was no exception. By 7 PM, we were all hot and tired and sweaty and grumpy, and I threw in the towel. I'd keep the house at 68F/20C all summer if I could afford it. 82F/28C (with about 90% humidity) was simply an unacceptable indoor sleeping climate. Yes, we're wimps! There are quite a few hotels very near our house, so we didn't bother to call ahead, even if the first one was booked up for some odd reason, surely the second one would have a vacancy. Ha-ha, the joke was on us, but no one was laughing. Not a *single* hotel had any vacancy. Between the many people still without power and Father's Day, we had to go nearly 8 miles away to find a hotel with an opening (thanks, Dad!).

Finally, when we came back home Saturday morning around 10 AM, we had power. According to the clocks, power came back on around 9 PM Friday, so we probably could have stuck it out, but even with the air conditioner running again, it would have taken ages for the house to cool down enough to be comfortable enough to sleep.

Time to assess the damage. We figured better safe than sorry, so pretty much anything in the refrigerator other than mustard and pickles got tossed. Also, most of what was in the freezer was deemed not usable, though some that was buried in the back/at the bottom was okay (could tell it had not thawed much, if any) *if* we could get it cooked ASAP. Managed to salvage one quart of spaghetti sauce, about a pound of pork chops, a single pork tenderloin, the 2 lb single T-bone steak that needed another day to fully thaw, and two packages of Luke's favorite bread (Sister Schubert's Parker House Rolls). All chicken, the rest of the pork chops, all the ground beef, all the ground pork, and a 3 pound roast I had just cut up the previous weekend, totaling 15-20 pounds (7-9 kg) of meat, all a loss, plus all previously cooked and frozen meals (except the spaghetti sauce), bread/pie crust/pizzas, etc. I was very much not happy!! In fact, we had so much to throw out, we filled up the trash cans and couldn't fully clean out freezer this weekend. We will leave the bottom shelf as it is, knowing not to use any of it, and toss the remaining stuff next week.

I didn't think to take a picture before I started cleaning it out. Everything in the freezer (left) will be trashed, except the freezer packs on the very top shelf above the ice maker. You can see I had already cleaned out a lot of the refrigerator door (on the right) and the drawers. The second shelf from the top in the refrigerator is the meat that we could salvage, and the third shelf is mostly canned/bottled drinks that will be fine. Everything else in the refrigerator side, both door and shelves, will be trashed (except the mustard, pickles, and soy sauce in the bottom shelf of the door). So, both the refrigerator and freezer are now clean, but I certainly don't recommend doing it this way.

Happy Father's Day to my Dad and DH! Sorry you both had to listen to me whine. We had Father's Day lunch at Olive Garden, followed by visits to Costco, Publix, and Kroger, picking up what we need for this coming week and any staples that were on sale (like cheese).  We'll rebuild the rest of it over the next few weeks. Definitely not the most fun weekend I've ever had.
Currently feeling: in the dark

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