It took two very strong men to carry the corpse out of my kitchen, down a flight of stairs and out to the truck that would haul it away to oblivion. I shed no tears, but did have a few moments of nostalgia as I thought of the years we’d spent together. Fortunately, the same two men were able to fill the empty space left behind with a replacement, and within minutes my new refrigerator was humming away, putting a chill on everything.
It’s one of those things you just don’t expect, the death of a refrigerator, especially one that’s only 11 or 12 years old. I remember to this day the refrigerator that was in the kitchen of my childhood; it was still in my mother’s kitchen when she and my dad were preparing to move to Chicago during my senior year in college. They hauled that refrigerator out and installed it in the small cabin on Hood Canal they’d bought a few years before. When I went there to spend some time after I graduated from the U.W., I put my beer and cheese and milk in that same “frig,” never thinking for a moment how old it was or that it might die.
When John and I moved into our newly built home in Langley, in 1981, a small refrigerator that had been in the little cabin replaced by the house was moved into the downstairs laundry area. We kept it there specifically to hold the clams, fish heads, chicken parts and other similar “stuff” we used for bait in our crab traps. It was still there, still working, when we sold the house many years later. For all I know, it may still be there, holding crab bait or whatever. It was at least 30 years old when we left it behind, with misgivings.
You know what they say, “They just don’t make things the way they used to.” Well, I become more and more convinced of that with every passing year and every new appliance. This is the fourth new refrigerator I’ve had to adjust to, and I firmly believe they are now manufactured with built-in obsolescence. Oh, yes, I know all about the “energy efficient” new models, and their supposed savings, but if I have to buy a new one every 10 or 12, I don’t see how that’s saving money.
So, there it stands in my kitchen, the stranger I have to get to know and care for, but I’ve learned my lesson now. I refuse to get attached to something I know will let me down and fail me in a decade or so.
There was a time, some of you may recall, when refrigerators were called “iceboxes” and there were many recipes for such things as Icebox Cookies and Icebox Cakes. Well, there are some things you just can’t make without your trusted “icebox,” and here are some spectacular treats you might want to try out this summer, when a frozen dessert is the perfect way to end a day.
CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY ICEBOX CAKE
27 Nabisco Chocolate Wafer Cookies
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3 T. cold water
1 bag (12 oz.) frozen raspberries
¾ cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 T. raspberry liqueur (Framboise)
1 t. vanilla extract
Line a 9-½x4x3-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, tucked in well at all corners and with a 1-inch overhang on all sides. Working with one cookie at a time, spread the slightly rounded side with a thin layer of the melted chocolate. Place 3 of these, chocolate side down, on the bottom of the pan; place another 3 on each long side of the pan with the chocolate side facing the pan. Place pan in freezer.
Sprinkle the gelatin over the water in a small bowl; let soften for 2 min.
Combine the raspberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook over med.-low heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and the mixture is warm to the touch. Stir in the gelatin mixture; cool to room temp., stirring occasionally.
Combine the cream, liqueur and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, whip mixture until soft peaks form. Gently fold in the raspberry mixture, being careful not to deflate the cream.
Remove pan from freezer. Pour all but ¼ of the mousse into the pan; smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Insert the remaining 18 wafers into the mousse arranging them vertically in 3 rows of 6, lined up with the chocolate wafers on the side. Spread remaining mousse over and smooth with the spatula. The pan should be full at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until completely set, overnight and up to 1 week.
To unmold, gently tug the plastic wrap just to loosen. Place a serving plate over the top then invert, gently tapping to release the cake. Carefully peel away the plastic wrap; slice to serve. Serves 6.
As long as we’re talking about raspberries, here’s an easy dessert popular everywhere in Italy called semifreddo, and without a refrigerator, we’d never be able to enjoy this.
1 ¼ cups superfine sugar
1 ½ cups raspberries (fresh, if possible; frozen and thawed otherwise)
3 cups heavy cream
Whisk the eggs with the sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, until thickened. Remove from heat and continue whisking the mixture until completely cool.
Mash the raspberries in a shallow dish. In a large bowl, whip the cream to stiff peaks then gently stir in the egg mixture and mashed raspberries. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap, pour in the raspberry cream mixture and smooth the surface. Place in the freezer at least 4 hrs., overnight is better. To serve, turn out of the loaf pan onto a serving plate, carefully remove the plastic wrap and slice to serve. Serves 6-8, depending upon thickness of slices.