BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Refrigerator musings

Earlier this year I came across an art project. It was basically a series of photographs of the inside of peoples fridge and freezers along with a short blurb about the owners of said appliances.  If you're interested in exploring those photos for yourself, you can find them here.

It leads to all sorts of hypotheses and thoughts around how the contents of a persons refrigerator can really describe a persons lifestyle, values, personality, etc.  What I perhaps found most intriguing was how the two separate refrigerators from a recently divorced couple had nearly identical contents.

Anyways, my blog generally doesn't discuss someone else's artwork.  However, at the time we were tickled with the idea of a refrigerator photo and took the following picture of our refrigerator contents:

Not terribly remarkable, and a bit empty (for us) as it was on the far side of our usual farmers' market shop.  What those in North America might notice is... what a funny little fridge.  And it was a funny little fridge. The freezer portion was of equal size and sat below the fridge portion.  It meant that we had WAY more freezer space then we were used to, and considerably less refrigerator space.

The fridges that I had grown up with are called American Refrigerators around here, and can even be used as a descriptor (i.e. it was as large as an American Refrigerator). Now the reason for such small refrigerators is not due to space constraints, rather to the amazing cost of electricity.  I blogged about my shock at our first utility bills way back when I first arrived.  I've since then learned to live like the local's on a lower energy diet.

As it turns out, keeping stuff cold is THE MOST electrically expensive thing you can do. (Hence why there are power shortages during a heat wave, but you don't find similar brown outs due to -40C weather).  In Ireland this translates to a much smaller frozen food isle (only one in our GIANT Tesco's) and fewer chilled foods. For example eggs would be found along side of bags of flour rather than in the dairy case. So homes here often have smaller fridges, and in fact, when we were initially looking for somewhere to live (from our vantage point in Canada) we automatically eliminated everywhere with an under-the-counter fridge.

Irony, irony as our new apartment has one of those tiny fridges. Erase any images you have of a bar fridge, this thing was built for maximum capacity. And surprisingly enough, I find that I have more than enough space for everything I want!

So here are a few of my space saving tricks:
-Many things don't actually need to be refrigerated. We just do it out of habit, and because we have giant monster truck sized refrigerators, for example: eggs, soya sauce, mustard, peanut butter.

-Many veg are happiest stored at warmer temperatures. The trick is to reduce the humidity and keep it somewhat cool.  We've co-opted our small balcony for this purpose. Outdoor ventilation is always better because humidity won't get trapped.  I learned this from my book on Victorian Farming.

-Leftovers don't need to be refrigerated.  Now... this may be an Ireland thing?  Not too sure. But I know some of my friends are always leaving their Sunday roast out till they get around to finishing it the next day, and as of yet none of them have died. However, I was told by a Biology PhD that the Irish climate and e.coli don't get along, so maybe it's not much of an issue.  Perhaps this is why canning over here is much more relaxed?  Regardless, my North American attitude towards germs has yet to allow me to explore this option of  food storage.  And I'm secretly glad I'm vegetarian, so I haven't yet been invited for leftover meat.

So in summary... I am very glad to have this opportunity to feed my family out of a tiny fridge. Now I know that I can do it!  In the future, as energy becomes more expensive, I will be glad to have these skills.  However, I do admit that the one reason we may have so much space in our small cubic fridge is because we're pretty much living out of the allotment and the NUIM orchard.  Here's today's harvest, and I didn't pick any kale or salad greens as they are the least likely to go all "Day of the Triffids" on us (as you may note, one of the courgettes/zucchini was getting dangerously close to that threshold).

1 comment:

Ash said...

Interesting blog as always Emillie! Off to check out my fridge now :) See ya soon. Ash

Post a Comment