Electronic Design

What's All This Refrigerator Stuff, Anyhow? (Part 2)

A friend of mine was cleaning expired medicines out of his first aid kit. Fine. But when he threw out the salt pills, I got mad. How can salt pills lose potency? I grabbed up all the medicines that had expired just a couple weeks ago and threw them in my refrigerator. I mean, any medicine that was potent two weeks ago isn't very bad now. (True, if it was stored at high temperatures for its rated life, it might be getting weak.) Now if I keep it in my refrigerator or freezer, it will stay good for years. I often come back from a trek and store a hundred bucks of pills in the freezer. I also store extra 35-mm film in my freezer.

Somehow, after 40 years, we got smart. Rather than just storing food in our refrigerator, Nancy decided to load "food groups" into plastic boxes—ordinary boxes, Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or the equivalent, perhaps 2 by 8 by 11 in., or as convenient. If a box is too big or too small for one group, we use it for something else.

First, we put a box for jams and jellies on the left-hand side. Then came the cheeses. We keep jack, cheddar, blue, Parmesan, and others in a mid-size box on the right side of the middle shelf. This makes it easier to (A) find cheese when you want it and (B) not lose cheeses, which is different from (A). Then we have a box for mustards and tangy sauces down at the bottom. Even more recently, we put a box for tortillas and bread in the middle of the refrigerator.

If you try this, you will be amazed at the results. There's a time to be disorganized, and a time to be organized. This is not a bad way to get organized. By pulling out one or two boxes, you can see and find other things that might otherwise get lost. For example, "I know there is some (mayonnaise) in there, somewhere." Pulling out a few boxes helps you find the (mayonnaise)—or whatever.

Today, I had 16 chicken thighs to bake. I just took out the whole box of tangy stuff. I sprinkled and poured and spread various sauces on pairs of chicken pieces—curry paste, black bean sauce, salsa, barbeque sauce, Hoisin sauce, honey-mustard sauce, ginger-garlic sauce, and so on. I also used some old recycled aluminum foil to keep the flavors segregated, when possible. Then I put the box of sauces back.

I baked the chicken for 20 minutes at 350°F, basted them with the fat and juices, turned the chicken parts over, and basted them again. I think I figured out that 20 more minutes was about right. And, I added slices of onions at the start. Ain't no such thing as too much onions.

This idea of using these boxes is such a good idea, and I have not seen it done nor discussed anywhere, that I think it makes a good column. To heck with Heloise! She's too late to figure this out! So buy a couple of medium-sized plastic boxes and try it out on the foods you have in large quantities. Who did the engineering of this? My wife Nancy did it, and in terms of organizing, I agree, it makes perfect sense. I'm too slow. This also works for spices and yogurt—maybe even op amps?

By the way, I haven't heard of anybody trying to use Fuzzy Logic, recently, to improve a refrigerator. I have hardly heard of anybody using Fuzzy Logic for anything.

Comments invited! [email protected]:
Mail Stop D2597A, National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090, Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

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