As you may have heard, Halloween came early to New England this weekend, in the form of an out-of-season snowstorm of heroic proportions. It wasn’t the the storm that was so bad, but the damage it inflicted on the trees, their boughs still laden with unfallen foliage–perfect for trapping heavy, wet snow. All night long we heard the CRACK! of living branches ripping off living trees, to land precariously on power lines and even bring some down. We woke to a white world, abounding in impassable roads, but completely free of electricity.
What does one cook without power or running water? You might think: raw foods and salad. Or: Nothing. But the answer is actually: Whatever needs using up before it spoils. That means, meat first. Yesterday we ate the whole chicken I got on Wednesday. We braised it with a scattering of prunes and almonds, after the Moroccan fashion. It was hard cleaning the pan afterward, with its patina of over-caramelized onions, but an hour of scrubbing and soaking did the trick. It’s not like there was anything else to do. After dinner, we slept for the entire 12 hours of darkness.
We’ll probably be blacked out for another few days. But our household was lucky in many ways: we have a woodstove and plenty of firewood, a propane-fueled range, and a supply of water from the school across the street, which has a generator. Twice a day we hook our router up to a portable power station for our Internet connection. We miss our oven and we’re slightly dirty, but we’re pretty comfortable. The kids even had their Halloween. We’ll freeze the ice packs outside at night and load them in the fridge during the day. The menu: chicken, chicken, pork, lamb, beef, in order of expiration date.
When it’s over, we’ll be a little grubby, but we’ll also be well-rested. And definitely very well-fed.