The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 05.19.04


It's Spring - get that fridge cleaned

Have you got a science experiment growing somewhere in your refrigerator?

Chances are you are just like most people and do not always get around to emptying that crisper drawer. Do you often sort through a pile of lettuce or cucumbers at the grocery to make sure you get the best one in the batch only to let them rot later in the confines of your fridge?

I had a friend in college that used the following technique to deal with the issue of smelly fridge contents. He would simply transfer any item of question to his freezer. Out of sight, out of mind was his theory but his offers of chilled and frosty glasses for beer left a lot to be desired.

At any rate, North Americans are prone to waste as we enjoy all manner of abundance. We might have good intentions but fail miserably in the cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness department. This particularly rings true in the refrigerator department, according to researchers. A reader sent me the following humorous item last week about how to tell when a product has gone past its expiry date.

  • Eggs: When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

  • Dairy products: Milk is spoiled when it looks like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can't get any more spoiled than it already is.

  • Meat: If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your kitchen door, the meat is spoiled.

  • Lettuce: Bib lettuce is spoiled when you can't get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without kitchen cleanser.

  • Carrots: A carrot that you can tie in a clove hitch is not fresh.

  • Wine - It should not taste like salad dressing.

  • Chip Dip: If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.

  • General rule of thumb: Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in your refrigerator to gauge this.

    Seriously, folks, we all need to clean up our act in the kitchen, so to speak. Health Canada advisories abound and this is a good time of year to scrub up your crispers prior to the launch of barbecue season. That way, you can start fresh at hiding leftover potato salad and those extra brochettes that grandma didn't eat.

    Don't forget to vacuum away those dust bunnies from beneath and behind the fridge either, as this will keep things running cool and smoothly for the summer. You don't want warm beer, do you?

    Beef brochettes with red peppers & coriander

    1 1/2 lb. lean beef, such as sirloin
    2 medium red peppers seeded and chopped in chunks
    1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
    4 tsp thyme, fresh or 1 tsp dried
    2 tbsp. honey
    1 small bunch fresh coriander, leaves only chopped
    2 tbsp. lemon juice
    1 tsp. garlic, chopped
    1/2 tsp. cumin
    I can or bottle of beer
    2 tbsp. olive oil
    Salt and pepper to taste

    Instructions: Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high or an oven broiler to 500 degrees. If wooden skewers are used, soak them in cold water until ready to use.

    Cut the beef into one-inch cubes. Peel and cut the onions into chunks. Set the chunks aside until ready to cook. Cut away and discard the pepper core and seeds. Cut the peppers into equal-size pieces and set aside until ready to cook. Combine the meat and remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl. Blend and marinate for 15 minutes. Drain the meat and arrange equal portions of meat, onions and peppers on skewers. Reserve the marinade for basting.

    If the brochettes are to be cooked under the broiler, arrange them on a rack about four inches from the source of heat, leaving the door slightly ajar. Cook for about four minutes for rare, basting with reserved marinade and turning often. If the brochettes are to be cooked on a grill, place them on the grill and cook for four minutes for rare, basting often with the reserved marinade while turning frequently.