Well, okay, Floyd wasn’t exactly an attractive name. But Katrina was my first cat, and Irene is just a nice, if not quite contemporary, name. Irene — sounds so Serene.
She came through, shedding a lot of tears up here in the NorthEast, causing a lot of people to shed tears as well. We don’t associate New England with hurricanes/hell-bent-for-leather tropical storms — but we could look at the historical record.
Here in Connecticut, aside for a few shore areas, most of the damage was associated with extended power outages. In Vermont, the New York Catskills, and areas of New Jersey, entire towns are essentially wiped off the map, not due to wind, but to rain rain rain.
I lost power until sometime in the wee hours of Friday morning, when I woke to see the alarm clock flashing at me. Fortunately, I was able to save most of my food — a couple friends had freezer space, and I bought a large cooler that held most of the rest, along with a little dry ice. The most important parts of the refridgerated section of the fridge ended up in my regular cooler, with packs of ice or freezer packs. Some ended up in the office fridge at work.
At any rate, an interesting contrast in foods bought at the farmers’ markets over three weeks time:
Saturday, August 20th, unfortunately I didn’t get to eat most of the eggplant. The remaining eggs were hard-cooked on the 27th:
Saturday, August 27th, as the storm was bearing down and rains had begun. Note I didn’t even try to photograph this in the yard. The cuke, of course, needs refrigeration but I planned on eating that quickly. I also bought, not depicted, one dozen eggs that had never been refrigerated. If they are truly farm fresh and not chilled first, they’re fine for a while. (I confirmed this with Nancy.)
Saturday, September 3rd.
Back to normal, more or less. The beans will mostly be pickled.
What truly amazed me during hurricane preps at the supermarket: the amount of perishables people loaded up on. I was in there for cat food and kitchen matches. I did pick up canned clams and canned asparagus tips. Water was seriously depleted — so I filled my own bottles from my own tap, and buckets from my own tap (supplemented by Irene’s provinance as she first began showering us with her favor). And, folks, maybe you do have toddlers, but loading up on MILK is just silly, otherwise. I did pick up extra charcoal, in case I had to cook everything I could.
As a camper, I already had a bundle of supplies (lanterns, batteries, solar shower, etc. – I ended up using the shower at work), and had identified a safe spot (my den) in case the looming trees decided to get personal with my house. Candles I limited to use on top of my range — taking care with regard to feline incursions.
My last breakfast before the lights went out:
According to the guidelines for food safety, things in the fridge are good for four hours after power outage. (Of course this also depends on which things, and the quality of your fridge.) Setting your thermostats LOW prior is a big help. Mine was still about 40 degrees F 20 hours later. That’s when I moved what I thought were the main items to the cooler, since I’d just opened the door (forgetting the eggplant and a few other things in the dark rush).
At 48 hours or just under, I offloaded the stand alone garage freezer to a new large cooler with dry ice, and some boxes to bring to friends with freezer space. The only item that wouldn’t fit was some Trader Joe chicken thighs (I triaged via source — pastured got priority); went into my regular cooler. Yes, I also got rid of a couple things labelled 2007… I also decided I didn’t really need ALL that much liver; I only like it pate’d after all. Everything was frozen except some ground goat or lamb near the top of the freezer — that went into my regular cooler.
The next morning, Wednesday, I offloaded the overstuffed regular freezer. This was definitely over the Government Recommended 48 hours. Except for the stuff on the immediate top, everything was seriously frozen hard. Unfortunately, most of my seafood was on the immediate top. Out. No chances with seafood. (I had reorganized my freezer just two weeks ago, sigh.) Other than that, I was able to salvage for dropping off with the two friends the rest of the meat (except one tongue) and a lot of the frozen condiments and cheeses and some of the veggies. Also, there was a bag of cherrystone clams down there, down below that dreaded upper layer. I put them in my refrigerator cooler. (I couldn’t see wasting space on what is mostly shell in trying to keep them frozen somewhere.)
When I got home from work that night, they still had ice crystals in them. They were still good! I had them for dinner, with a little lemon. Excellent! (By the way, the best way to get cherrystones to open up for you if you want them raw is to freeze them at least a day. I had these here about a month. There is no flavor loss.
Wednesday night I also cooked up the aforementioned burger, chicken thighs and tongue, to eat later in the week:
It is hard to get the skin off the tongue when so cooked, especially since I kept the meat medium rare (still tender and tasty with a little mustard). You lose a little meat but, hey. I didn’t think L.Z. would relish seeing a tongue going into her freezer, and wasn’t about to ask. The chicken was marinated in balsamic vinegar, garlic and ground pepper.
As for the ground ruminant (lamb or goat?): Make up your mixture and form into patties — and grill. Flip a couple times. Serve with Dijon mustard or reserve to take to work, or eat the next night or two, along with the other items you’ve grilled, and lots of tomato slices. Apples for dessert.
At the end of the day: I want a hand-crank radio for news, and I want a generator since I have a separate stand-alone freezer. This would also be real handy in winter, when pipes may freeze. Will have to shop around for the most reasonable deal and usefulness.
Otherwise, I’m extremely glad to have come through this as well as I have. May everyone get back on their feet as soon as possible!