Cooking at home – storm edition

Here in western Mass., we escaped pretty much scot-free – a power flicker or two, and then it was over.  The kids went to school this morning.  Last year, after the Halloween snowstorm, it was a totally different story.  The power was out for 3 long days (and much more, elsewhere); the roads were impassable.  The kids were sent out with giant prep bowls to collect snow, which we melted on the wood stove, boiled, and used for rinse water or wash water. When it got too dirty, we recycled it for dish water, and after that for flush water.

At the time we were testing the book we dubbed The Incredibly Complicated Food of Morocco, which used practically every pan in the house. But we persisted, which meant most of each day was spent either preparing or cleaning up from dinner. 

This year I was prepared to suspend recipe-testing altogether rather than face that again.  As I searched our pantry and freezer and shopped ahead of the storm (no more D batteries! carts full of bottled water and mac & cheese!), I realized there are a number of very different ways a situation like this can turn out.

If you’re lucky (and super extra hard-working), you’ve got an awesome pantry full of beans you canned and tomatoes you dried and cucumbers you pickled over the long summer.  You sit smugly nibbling on your treats while everybody else panics.

Or not. Maybe your the last-minute type,and you’re not all that big on cooking in the first place.  So you buy cans of chili and packs of ramen and instant coffee, and you flex your thumb a few times make sure your can-opening muscles are in good order.

Many of us ended up eating high on the hog as our full freezers thawed, and we feverishly worked to cook and eat pounds and pounds of protein before it went bad.  A lot of families ended up cooking ribs and roasts and firing up the grill one last time before winter.

And then, of course, there is the ultimate non-perishable:  alcohol. With work and school cancelled and nowhere to go, it can’t be denied that a certain apocalyptic attitude–somewhere between resignation and “why the hell not!” rules the day for some.

But let’s put all that aside for a moment.  It’s easy for people like me to pontificate about the storm, from a dry house with an Internet connection, running water and electricity (and now lots of leftover emergency supplies).  Our hearts go out to our friends facing prolonged shortages and outages, and our homes are open to those who need them.  Wherever you are, folks, stay safe and eat as best you can.  We’ll laugh about it together tomorrow.

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