Monday, August 29, 2011

Boil eggs


promethHurricane Irene is not my excuse for not having posted new material since July.  And until you pay subscription fees,  I will not make excuses.  But Hurricane Irene is very much my excuse for finally posting at all, because we in the Northeast learned a valuable lesson this weekend:  your hurricane prep looks just like your blizzard prep, with fewer clothes.  And Massachusetts, may I remind you of the periodic flooding we endure that we can never prevent, but can always manage to eat through.

We are sharing Power On/Power Off news on the social media.  If your Power is Off, you are not reading this essay, but come back to it later when you need to plan for the next big outage, regardless of season or the climate in which you live.  Meals without refrigeration or cooking are not as difficult as you might imagine; people do it all over the world.

More importantly, you can avoid most of the rushed aisles in the grocery store.

Water water everywhere – you should have a stash of water in your house anyway – however much you think you need based on your plumbing situation.  But get this, America.  If you are on town water/sewer (that is, it works by gravity, not by pump), and the streets are not full of debris…. if you are not under a boil order (and can’t boil nothin’)  turn on the faucet.      hello-mrs-piggle-wiggle

I just noticed Mrs Piggle Wiggle is drawn by Hilary Knight and might be the sister of Eloise’s nanny.  Damn, there’s always another blog elbowing in when you finally get back on the keys…

Anyway, on the water issue, the gallon jugs will do.  You are unnecessarily buying cases of individual servings.  It is cheaper and easier to buy gallons.  Drink from a glass.  It doesn’t need to be washed.  It was water.

Keep a gallon per person in a closet until you need it.  It doesn’t go bad.  And it doesn’t need to be cold.  You can freeze a pile of it in plastic bags if you like, to use first as refrigeration, and later to drink.

Which brings me to

MiniatureIceBoxOpenOur obsession with refrigeration.  We haven’t had it all that long.  Some of our parents still say “ice box” because that is what it was called when they learned the word for it.  Most things we refrigerate will live as long as your power outage in your unrefrigerated fridge, even in the by-god South.  In Northern climes, we will stick food in the snow during a winter outage, but that’s mostly just a big F-You to nature.

I often think of a French ad man who marveled at the American practice of refrigerating cheese.  He said, “We would not keep our cheese in the refrigerator for the same reason you don’t keep a cat {pronounced ghaat} in the refrigerator – because it is alive! {pronounced aliiiiiive}.”  I think about this every time I take my cheese from the plastic wrapper from the plastic bag from the fridge.  I still refrigerate my cheese because sweaty cheese is sort of gross.  But cheese is already ripened milk.  There isn’t far it can go.  Kraft singles will never go bad, because unlike your cat, they are already dead.

Hard fruit-and-vedge can live on the counter – in fact, in a box of dirt, which is where your great granny kept it, “down cellar.”  Apples, pears, and stone fruits will hold up, and bananas are meant to be room temperature.  I would skip the lettuce, probably the cukes if your place is hot and humid.  But broccoli, squash, onions, carrots, radishes, peppers are counter-safe, more so if you do not buy organic.  They are loaded in preservatives, otherwise.

Your pickles, dressings, mustards… are going to be fine.  If you’re afraid of your creamy dressings, make a vinegar and oil.  Neither of those things live in your fridge.

If you know the storm is coming, here is the best advice I can give you:  boil eggs.  One or two per person per day for as long as you think the outage would last.  Boiled eggs will turn on you, as any parent knows in June, but it takes a long time.  Don’t hide them; just leave them in a bowl.  You will not starve, I promise, on what I have named so far.  Any honest bachelor who reads this page has eaten pickles for dinner before.  A meal of fruit, vedge, egg and cheese is more balanced than mopicky-eaterst days.

Now, you have kids.  “I have KIDS…” you are hollering at me.  Kids can eat whole food.  If your kids won’t, I won’t try to convince you otherwise.  They’re your problem. 

3 weeks with a broken stove convinced me I could do without it too.  But if you are anticipating a storm outage, take care of two looming problems by cooking food you think will go bad in a way that makes it “front of fridge” when the grid goes down.  Chicken is perfect for this, because cold chicken is  palatable and versatile, and left naked can survive a powered-down fridge for at least a day.  But don’t eat it until the power does go off or the all-clear sounds.  You’ll be mad. You won’t mind cold roast beef or pork on salads and sandwiches.  And canned tuna is so easy you can throw it in your evac bag when the sheriff comes in his rowboat.  Save that for last.

If you are caught unawares by a significant outage, use the stuff in your freezer as icepacks in your cooler.  Or just start eating.  I think you should worry less about losing food (which is deductible) than not having anything to go to.

Always ready / Always satisfying foods include

  • PB & J (you buy that jelly off the shelf.  You could keep it on the shelf if you wanted)
  • Breakfast cereal – what about milk?  You say?  Are you hungry, or are you just whining?
  • Hummus – on anything, like a spoon
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts
  • Cheez-Its, of course
  • Liquor.