It has nothing to do with Pinterest, I swear. But sometimes I like to whip up a nice batch of tempura vegetables. It’s a hella mess to prepare and I don’t even want to think about the caloric or health implications, but in my house if you want your kids to devour veggies without complaint, tempura is the way to go.
Let me add: Although I was born in New York I grew up in the South, where Fry Daddies are the Donald Trumps of counter-top real estate. So let’s just say I know a thing or two about recycling vegetable oil.
I even have a jar labeled FRYER OIL, which I use to store the used oil after we cook in it.
While tonight’s tempura was delicious IIDSSM*, I just got the feeling it was time to retire this particular batch of oil.
I stared at the pan; its hundred globuled eyes stared back. The plumbing in my 100-year-old farm house is more delicate than my own, so I knew the sink wasn’t an option. I really like being a can-do girl, but I just couldn’t recall the protocol.
“How am I supposed to get rid of this?” I asked Joe, motioning to the pan of brownish, gelatinous muck. Joe grew up in the country, so he knows all about… disposing of things properly.
“My dad used to dig a hole about six feet deep and then pour it in,” he said seriously.
“Um, I think an oil grave is pretty extreme,” I said, also seriously. “I think I’ll just Google it.”
So of course I did. The first link, from WikiHow, was a freaking gold mine.
After advising me to cool the oil (What? You don’t start crafting with hissing, spitting fryer oil?), pour it into various receptacles (old jars, bottles, cottage cheese containers, my God the possibilities are endless!) and then–are you ready for this bit of brilliance?–throw it into the trash, there followed several ideas for effectively ridding oneself of this culinary lubricant that is unfit to pour down one’s drain.
1. Make a lava lamp!
“This is a fun project to do with kids,” insists WikiHow. “Just be sure to use protective eye-wear, crank up the Led Zeppelin and fire up a joint first.” Oh fine, they didn’t say the last part. But seriously, I’m supposed to make a home accessory out of our greasy, putrid cooking remains? That’ll look lovely next to the chicken carcass lamp I’ve been working on.
(I was totally kidding when I wrote that but then I googled “chicken carcass lamp” and OMFG! Only $350!)
2. Save some for rubbing on snow shovels. Since I live in SoCal where it’s 75 and sunny year-round, I’m going to keep a jar in my car and give it to the next bald man I see as a shaving-aid. It’s sort of the same thing.
3. Use it to make biodiesel. I have had “invent a viable alternative fuel source” on my to-do list for ages. I just needed a little nudge is all.
4. Take large amounts to a local restaurant. “Um, hi, McDonalds? Yeah, this is your neighbor Jenna. Just wondering if you could use a trough of gently-worn vegetable oil down there?” (You guys will make sure my kids still get tempura vegetables when I’m locked up, right?)
5. Pour over used cat litter. DUDE, WTF? I want to meet the crackhead who threw this one in there. “I dunno, man. Cat shit is gross, used frying oil is gross. Why not just pour one over the other and see what happens?”
6. Mix it with stale bread, old rice or any grain product and feed it to your pigs or chickens. AND FEED IT TO YOUR PIGS OR CHICKENS. Goddamn it, I forgot to buy pigs and chickens when I was buying the organic broccoli for the tempura.
7. Use it to make soap. You say lemon-verbena, I say cauterized-ethylene. Semantics.
*If I Do Say So Myself
I had to stop there, because it’s getting late and apparently I have a six-foot hole to dig.