June 4th, 2005

A Pocket Full of Murder

The Magic Refrigerator, and Other Stories

Today, as my husband was slaving away in our front yard (anything outside the house is his department; I'm afraid that gardening and I do not compute), I suddenly decided that a picnic lunch would be a nice idea. So I spent the next half-hour preparing a big cooler full of sandwiches, carrot sticks, cheese cubes, watermelon slices, a bag of corn chips, some homemade chocolate chip cookies from the freezer, and a thermos of iced tea. Then we drove off down by the train station, where the annual Railway Heritage Day is being held, and cheerfully stuffed ourselves at a picnic table in the nearby park. 'Twas fun.

After lunch we went over to look at the station and investigate the displays of model trains and whatnot, and I learned to my considerable surprise that Thomas Edison had once worked at our teeny insignificant little railway station. What do you know.

Anyway, back to food. At present I am cooking a pot roast for Sunday dinner using this recipe. I really hope it turns out, because I have four guests to feed and I've never tried this particular recipe before, but for some reason I always seem to end up trying new recipes on company.

However, I had to use the oft-disparaged cold water thawing method on the roast, because when I took it out of the refrigerator this morning, it was just as solidly frozen as it had been 48 hours earlier when I removed it from the freezer (not the deep freezer even, just the regular one). Which brings me to the point of this entry: to wit, that my refrigerator is magic.

You see, when a fridge is set too cold, it's fairly obvious: the milk turns slushy, the lettuce extra-crunchy, and the grapes get overlaid with a delicate shell of ice. None of these things have ever happened in my fridge, however, and in fact I have the temperature set two notches lower than the recommended factory setting. Yet when I try to thaw anything using the refrigerator method, it takes at least three times longer than it did in any of my previous fridges.

At Christmas time, for instance, I took the turkey (not a particularly large one either) out of the freezer a whole week before it was due to be cooked, because I knew that my fridge thaws things slowly. However, my foresight made no difference, because on the big day, I still couldn't get any of the joints to move, or get my hand into the ice-crusted cavity to take the giblets out. I ended up putting the turkey back in the deep freezer (where it remains to this day) and cooking a couple of chickens instead. And as I said before, I gave a 2-pound roast 48 hours to defrost, only to find it still rock-hard this morning.

How is this possible, I ask myself, when nothing else in the fridge seems to be any colder than it ought to be? I don't know, but it's very frustrating.