Cleaning a crisper may lead to a strange brew | Latte Guy | Feb. 18

It all started when I was looking for an onion the other day. I thought there might be one in the little drawer in our refrigerator called the “crisper,” so I opened it and looked inside.

There may or may not have been an onion in the crisper, but to find out for sure I would have had to reach through several layers of unidentifiable green goo. I ran to the grocery store instead.

Once my squeamishness over the vividly decaying contents of the crisper drawer had dissipated, I thought it would be a nice gesture to clean the thing out before the woman who is my wife returned home.

It was such a satisfying experience that I decided to go ahead and clean out a few of our kitchen cupboards while I was at it.

Before I knew it, I had a veritable cornucopia of spoiled vegetation, stale dry goods and unidentifiable Tupperware scrapings stacked neatly on the counter.

I hated the idea of wasting anything that might still be edible, so I prepared a mental menu using only those ingredients I’d liberated from their lengthy sentence in the crisper or cupboard.

As an opener, I figured I’d start with weathered celery stalks slathered in the contents of a jar of what I believe might once have been Nacho Cheese Sauce, sprinkled with florescent light dried extra wrinkled raisins (or cranberries – hard to tell without an autopsy), lightly tossed with braised toaster leavings and overripe melon balls resting an a bed of crushed graham crackers and what might possibly have been homemade Poulsbo Blacktop Forest brown bread croutons.

I had come across plenty of mushrooms in the crisper, some of which we purchased and some of which were volunteers.

So I figured I could make a mushroom cobbler decorated with some manner of nut shavings, extra droopy carrot slivers, a drizzle of liquefied lettuce, double cured cheese chunks, beet gel, and some kind of orangish tuber reduction.

And then, all infused with late harvest cabbage fragments and early death dried apricot fragments sporting visually stunning little green hairs.

For my main course, I couldn’t decide between veal in clam sauce or clams in veal sauce or a freezer- burned fish stick fricassee paired with last summer’s fingerling, toeling and knuckling red potatoes.

The chosen one would be served with a shrimp-like cocktail in an amusing free-range pasta sauce with artichoke hearts, lungs and kidneys and locally-chased goose dumplings served on a futon of herb-encrusted blackened green onion stalks garnished with something that once hailed from the broccoli family.

For dessert, I envisioned steamed little vanilla and honey bottles served over a single artisanally aged ice cream cone filled with bittersweet frozen, thawed, and refrozen locally picked berry freezer jam

And, of course, it should be layered with the contents of the half-dozen or so partially consumed bags of Nestles semi-sweet Toll House chocolate chunks I found in the cupboard, dusted with Orville Reddenbacher microwave popcorn powder.

In the end, I tossed my collection of unsavory crisper detritus, and was thankful that it was the only thing I tossed.

The crisper is empty and clean now, occupied only by a wistful bunch of radishes and one very lonely jicama. At least I think it’s a jicama. Could be a rutabaga in disguise.

Despite our vows to eat more vegetables and keep the drawer leaner and cleaner, I suspect it’s only a mater of time until we begin the crisper repopulation process.

And that’ll be OK, because I have a great new recipe for a lunch meat lasagna served on a barcalounger of petrified pasta scraps, extra blue bleu cheese, rock-hard ricotta ravioli rinds, and a red sauce distilled from the 10 half-empty bottles of ketchup I saw lurking above the crisper, just behind our collection of mayonnaise jars and vintage tortillas.

You can be runny my friends, but you cannot hide.

Tom Tyner is an attorney for the Trust for Public Land. He is author of “Skeletons From Our Closet,” a collection of writings on the island’s latte scene.

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