in this case, my “Ox” was the looming chore of cleaning out the refrigerator. I haven’t cooked in so long, it became commonplace to buy a gallon of milk, let it go bad, buy another gallon of milk and push the bad milk to the back of the fridge.
And so it went. For weeks. For months. For years. For decades. For centuries. Ok, so maybe I’m embellishing a bit, but not much.
There were untold gallons of undrinkable milk, containers of unusable yogurt, rancid cottage cheese, a carton of eggs that Noah may have gathered on the Ark and a few things that I wasn’t able to identify.
All of the above.
This is an undertaking that has been needing, desperately, to be tackled for a long time. A very long time. I would feel hungry and think I might fix a bite to eat then open the refrigerator door and see that nothing had changed. I would, again, find the task to be more daunting than I could wrap my mind around, close the door and settle for toast-chee crackers.
I performed the same ritual, again and again, with the same result. I felt a bit guilty, but obviously not enough to actually get on with the task at hand.
Today dawned rainy and gray and I found I had a yen to make some red sauce. Not the “open a can and heat it up” kind, but the “from the tomatoes up” kind. I was once very adept at homemade cooking and enjoyed it immensely. I would like to do so again and didn’t want to smother this bright thought in my head.
Then I opened the refrigerator door.
This time, however, it wasn’t enough to settle for crackers. I rolled up my sleeves, double bagged several industrial sized, toxic waste approved garbage bags and got to work.
It was an arduous and, as you can imagine, rather ugly scene. I thought I was going to have to find a hired hand just to carry the heavy bags to the garbage truck, but a strong back is a terrible thing to waste.
After much scrubbing, rinsing, bleaching then scrubbing, rinsing and bleaching some more, I have found it to be a respectable appliance worthy of edible food. It is mostly empty now, sporting only a few jars of condiments and some jalapeno peppers, but I intend to rectify that this week.
The freezer got a dose of scrubbing, too. The sum of everything in my freezer equals half a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, a pack of peanut butter Oreos, a wedge of Pecorino Romano and a bag of broccoli.
But it’s clean.
With that unseemly chore completed, I was able to get on with the fun stuff. The tomatoes are even now simmering, along with red wine, fresh basil from my porch garden, anchovies, a garlic clove and an onion that somehow survived the prolonged neglect.
I felt the familiar thrill of making the knife dance across the cutting board while avoiding my fingers and I’m pretty sure I started humming. I didn’t have any fresh cilantro to put in it, but I will, for next time.
It’s too early yet for the scents to make the mouth water, but in a bit of while, it will smell like glory. My “Ox” turned out to be a blessing and I am thankful to have cleared out the cobwebs, so to speak and taken something, even if it is only red sauce, back.