The first step…

…is admitting you have a problem.

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I’ve got a dirty secret hiding in my basement. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but since it’s mostly out of my sight, it’s completely out of my mind. It could be good again, but…

The shame.

I have a small freezer full of food from who knows when and an ever growing block of ice needing to be defrosted.

That’s not entirely true. I do know when. I carefully labeled most containers and bags so I know exactly how old some of the stuff in there is, but I’m not sure I can admit it.

I have a freezer hoarder family history. My grandmother had a huge chest-style freezer in her basement. It was so huge, it was easy to see how things at the bottom might go missing for a while. Plus she lived through the Depression, so she always kept a memory, I think, of having done without. Her freezer was part of her guarantee of plenty. Of enough.

Mine is just out of my sight. And unremembered.

It started well. I purposely bought a small freezer to avoid the losing food problem. Mine is relatively small. Unlike the big chests, mine is tall and skinny and opens like a refrigerator. Every summer we have so many berries and other great fruit, I needed a place to ferret some away for winter. I also had a farmer for meat periodically, so there needed to be a place for that.

It worked pretty well for a while, but at some point it went away from my brain. I knew there was a chicken in there and lots of berries. I wasn’t sure what else except the ever growing ice block.

Tonight I was downstairs doing laundry. It was time. If I was going to get better, I had to face it head on. I opened the door. Yep, the giant block of ice was bigger, like an ice tumor taking over the upper shelf.

There was the chicken as expected. And some bacon. Some ground lamb. Some beef for kabobs. All inventoried for dinners soon.

There were berries. Lots and lots of them, especially blueberries. I went through a smoothie phase and it was clear from the dates on the bags when I had stopped.  Maybe still useful.

I did find two containers I did not recognize. It could be soup. Maybe it’s chili. Or something else. I brought one up to defrost so I would know what it is. It might get eaten if it’s still edible, but either way it needs to be out of the freezer.

Looking for a win, I brought up two bags. One has four cups of crushed raspberries ready for making jam. I’m not sure why that never happened, but it’s thawing and hopefully I can do that tomorrow — a few pints of simple jam.

I had a second small bag of whole raspberries (maybe one and a half cups at most) but they were pretty icy. Instead of letting them thaw, I put them into a small pan and added the juice of three limes and two scoops of sugar, and brought the mixture to a boil and then a simmer for ten minutes. Just before it was done, I threw in some pomegranate seeds I bought recently at Trader Joe’s. It tasted ok, so even though the berries were old, it’s edible.

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I now have a lovely jam/sauce that is still tart that I can put into yogurt or on toast. At least it stands a chance, now that it’s in the kitchen and in my view.

I will keep working to get that freezer emptied out and then properly defrosted. I am excited to fill it with lovely things from the Northwest again this summer, but I vow to keep some kind of an inventory upstairs on my fridge so I track what’s there and don’t forget about it again.

I can be a recovering freezer hoarder. The first step is admitting I have a problem.

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