19.7 cubic feet
Try as I might, I could not muster the time or energy to blog over Passover. Much like our ancestors, my experience of the holiday began with the food preparations and consumed me until now.
Thursday before the holiday was devoted to purchasing food stuffs, which often felt more like hunting and scavenging. I went from store to store to find all that I needed for the three day opening onslaught (Shabbat and the first two days, including the two seders). My seemingly, out-of-character, apparently indulgent - not to mention expensive - food shopping spree so alarmed my credit card company that they froze my card temporarily, not for lack of funds but for suspicious activity.
Thursday night was devoted to the final marathon cleaning, putting hametz dishes away and bringing down the passover ware.
Friday was devoted to cooking. And more cooking.
Friday night, we were off and running.
Between exhaustion, guests, work and the incessant cycle of cooking/cleaning/cooking/cleaning, there was little time to blog. For the reality of a home that that is the hub of Passover is that for a whole week, every morsel of food that we eat has to be prepared from scratch, by hand in one's kitchen that very week (unless you are really good and either transform your kitchen weeks earlier or have the indulgent luxury of a separate kitchen. Or I supposed you could hire someone to cook for you, but now we trespass in the territory of make-believe.) No eating out, no buying prepared food, no dipping into the freezer for food you cooked weeks earlier for such an occasion. The constancy of the kitchen, for those of us who ordinarily spend as little time as possible there, is humbling.
But that is not the point of this blog. Just an explanation for the blog blackout period.
The point of the blog is this: a month before Passover, I disconnected our second refrigerator/freezer. It has become de rigueur in the burbs to have two, sometimes three, refrigerators and freezers. But that appliance is one of the greediest power eaters in our homes. A 20 cubic feet refrigerator/freezer (roughly the one I have and most likely you too) uses 2700 KW a year. That annual usage is exceeded in most typical homes only by the water heater and air conditioner. (For a fascinating glimpse at typical home appliance consumption rates, go to http://www.oksolar.com/technical/consumption.html)
We too have two r/fs. And that was perhaps, maybe, somewhat defensible when my children were smaller and thus the household larger. But today, there are three of us in this large home. So a month before Passover, I determined, by fiat, that we were going to reduce our cold food storage to what we could fit into one unit, our 19.7 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer in the kitchen. It took us a while to eat down our stock. We buy less at a time now, but amazingly don't find we are going to the store more often. We just have less stashed away at any one time. And the bright side is that our freezer food is fresher, not having stayed in the cold recesses of climate-controlled cave for months, courtesy of abundant frozen space.
But I write about this now because for Passover, I needed to return to two fully functioning units. What with feeding 20 people at a seder and 6-8 at most subsequent meals. So now once again, after stocking up my two units, I need to cull and trim and get back into one unit. Despite my previous wrestling with this storage space diet, 19.7 cubic feet still looks so very small. And yet I realize that is probably larger than most home refrigeration units in most of the world. The whole closet - for that is what it is, just cold - is almost as big as a twin bed. And we are back to three people in my household. So why do I need more space; and why does my refrigerator feel so small? What grand level of luxury and abundance has become the norm in our lives so that I feel like I am now shoving my life's food stock into a handbag? Maybe I should line the back wall with mylar or mirrors to make it feel twice as big?
Old habits of abundance, even excess, are hard to break. But I am now off to consolidate, bringing the residue of holiday foods from the second r/f into the neighborhood of the kitchen r/f. It almost feels like crossing the railroad tracks; merging two classes, two cultures. I hope everybody plays nicely in the dark.