November 15, 2012

Finally online after Hurricane Sandy...

I am so very glad to finally be sitting in front of my computer, Internet connection up and running again, so I can write here and return to a normal routine after Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy walloped us on the Northeast a few weeks ago.  For the second year in a row - practically to the date – Mother Nature left a big scar on our area.  Apparently, Halloween is not her favorite holiday either; you could say Mother Nature “stole” Halloween but unlike the Grinch, Mother Nature was successful and did it two years around here.  But losing Halloween is the least of the matter.
Instead of an ice storm, which immobilized us for over a week the same time a year ago, another hurricane (there was Hurricane Irene just last August) blew through.  And yes, a nor’easter followed 9 days later and dropped a solid 8 inches or so of snow on us.  What was once almost unheard of in our parts is becoming all too familiar.  While we were relatively prepared thanks to advance warning (which I always take seriously now in a post Hurricane Katrina world), Sandy once again reminded us of our vulnerability and perhaps even the limits to the control we have over our destiny.
We were extremely lucky.  My family and I hunkered down ahead of the hurricane, and while the sounds and sights of trees bending to the force of 60-mph type winds at night were frightening, we managed to reach the other side and wake up the next morning safe and without damage.  We lost power for only 2 days – extremely fortunate indeed compared to many others in New Jersey where we live, and along New York and Connecticut.  I know we have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.  And being so lucky, it reminds me to give more during this holiday season.
Making cookies ahead of a storm calms the nerves (at least, for me)...
On a lighter note, you can imagine I took my self-appointed role as Chief Meal-Planning Officer seriously during that week or so surrounding the storm when all we could really do was wait and, well, eat.  We comforted each other by gathering around the table.  Cooking gave me as much comfort as eating.  I had a vague notion of snapping photos of our meals as a sort of documentary of the storm of 2012 through food.  But suffice it to say that once the wind started to pick up, the storm arrived, and things got serious, we found ourselves glued to the TV coverage while we had power and then, without power, I fairly forgot about the camera.

But you can take my word for it - the pantry was stocked and we ate our way through the storm and the aftermath.  Looking back, we shored ourselves up with hearty chicken parmesan and roasted squash the night before the storm.  Pancakes and bacon, comforting bowls of oatmeal (for me), and cookies and homemade ice cream filled our day as we waited.  On Monday evening, October 29th, when the wind arrived and the lights began to flicker, I started dinner and stashed it away in the warm oven by 4pm so we’d have our dinner in case the lights went out.  Food is obviously about survival but I think it goes beyond just the physical need for it…
We were very lucky to be able to use our gas stove (and have hot water!) after we lost power (around 10pm the evening of the storm) and I took full advantage to cook up my stash of frozen shrimp and meat from the defrosting freezer.  My husband cooked from the grill and together, we ate everything from stir-fry beef with tofu and rice, to popcorn chicken, and pasta (always lots of pasta) with garlic bread toasted on the skillet!  There were lots of frozen vegetables on the table too and I’m thankful for it.  The Halloween candy, our stash of chips and other snacks were dipped into as well.
When the lights came on, I nearly cried with joy and relief.  Interestingly, the three of us were seated around the dining room table eating dinner by candlelight at the time.  The overwhelming feeling then and now remains: grateful.  Looking at the uprooted trees around our neighborhood, hearing about the injuries and victims, the people displaced from their homes and those without power for far too long, and seeing the flooding in the city and coastal areas, it is clear that we were once again very fortunate.  I am very grateful.
Other members of my family who live nearby went without power for six days (many others were dark even longer).  So for a few days, we did what we do best – cluster around the table, drinking coffee and eating, talking, and eating a bit more while the kids enjoyed and entertained each other.  The grownups were waiting - for “normal” life to begin again, for schools to open, and the ability to resume life and business, without fear of downed wires and gas shortages.  But at the same time, we realized how lucky we were to be merely inconvenienced, and how minor our problems were relative to so many others who lost so much because of Sandy.  It’s frightening to think of worse case scenarios and those less fortunate… 
Though the lights came back on, our cable connection was down for 17 days, until today (luckily, our cell phones kept us informed), or I would have written sooner; I missed putting my thoughts down on “paper” here.

So if you're reading this, wherever you are…I hope you are safe and well and count yourself lucky like we do.  And, please, let’s hope for a mild winter!

I have been doing plenty of cooking and baking these past two weeks.  I made some old favorites and also a few new things that I'll be posting about here in the coming days...


  1. Glad you're back and didn't get the worst of the storm. :)

  2. Thanks - it's good to come back to this little corner and resume my kitchen "show & tell". : )



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