Middle Shelf & Door

The fridge project continues! One girl. One chaotic refrigerator. One New Year’s project. Watch her take on unidentifiable sauces in tiny tupperware, three plastic bags full of raisins, ziplocs full of things we think we’re going to eat but never get around to, and seven-year-old apple butter!

Who knows what secrets lurk in the heart of the middle shelf?

Who knows what secrets lurk in the heart of the middle shelf?

The top shelf called mostly for organization and patience. The middle shelf, however, would bring its own unique challenges. Almost two separate worlds in one shelf, the middle shelf’s front half is the home to snack material like bread and cheese and tortillas and baba ganoush. It has its share, too, of little bits of leftover sauce and dressing put into tiny containers and left to leak quietly onto the shelf below. But the back half of the middle shelf is more like a pantry – loose floppy plastic baggies of raisins, nutritional yeast, rice, and flax seeds are crammed into the back and make periodic surges forward, tangling their plastic tails in amongst the mochi and miso trying to live a quiet life up front.

Pulling out the contents of the middle shelf was like a revelation. It was as though a veil of crinkly plastic was lifted from my eyes. Hiding there I found several beets, fuzzed with mold around their tops but still firm and ready to go. I found a white onion that came in my CSA box – putting it at an August 27th, 2008 arrival date at the most recent. A box of tofu was just barely holding on, and several pomegranates had begun to wither in on themselves.

Baked Beets and Onions with Horseradish Sauce

Baked Beets and Onions with Horseradish Sauce from the middle shelf

The real source of chaos on the middle shelf was the aforementioned bags of dry goods, and luckily all these found happy new homes. Some went into the actual pantry, some into the freezer, and the rest were sorted into labeled jars and tucked back into the fridge where their plastic effluvium would bother us no more. Ever since the advent of our wonderful portable dishwasher I’ve been much more diligent about washing and saving food jars rather than recycling them away (no matter how much you wash it by hand, a pickle jar still smells like pickles!) so I had a great collection of multi-sized options to choose from.

The fridge door was a relatively easy affair, mostly a question of moving things I use more often into better positions. I’ve known for a while that I’m a mustard addict, but organizing the door forced me to confront my addiction. (Or do “normal” people keep 8 different kinds of mustard in their refrigerators?)

I ended up with quite a tasty meal from the middle shelf: Chili-glazed tofu (nothing like a tangy chili glaze to cover the tangy taste of near-spoilage!). A tubful of pomegranate seeds, great for snacking, especially when the house gets so dehydrating with the heater on. And a new recipe: Baked Beets and Onions with Horseradish Sauce (recipe follows below), with the door contributing a jar of grated horseradish that hadn’t made an appearance since Passover of ’05.

The plastic menace has been transformed!

The plastic bag menace has been transformed!

Top Shelf
Bottom Shelf & Crisper Drawers

Baked Beets and Onions with Horseradish Sauce (inspiration taken from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

Olive Oil
Salt & pepper

Grated horseradish
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
White wine or sherry vinegar to taste

Preheat oven to 375 or 400 degrees. Scrub beets but leave the peels on and cut into large pieces. Remove peels from onions and cut into thick slices, sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper. Line a baking dish with parchment paper (optional – makes clean-up much easier!) and spread out beets and onions in pan. Put about 1/4 inch water in the bottom of the pan and cover pan with foil. Bake until beets are tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Mix yogurt and horseradish to taste. (You want to make sure it isn’t too spicy or bitter for your palate.) Add a little sugar, a little salt, a little vinegar, but make sure to save the final seasoning for when your veggies are done, because the sauce tastes very different against the sweetness of the baked beets.

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