Sunday, January 30, 2011

What to cook when there's no power?

DC had a snowstorm on Wed.  Lucky for me, I only live 1 mile from work.  The Federal government let out workers 2 hours early on Wed and the local universities followed suit.  I didn't actually leave work until 4pm and then stopped to get gas but was home by 5.  Some of my poor colleagues were stuck for hours on the highway, trying to get home.  Sean and I were just hanging out, looking outside as the heavy snow came fast and furious.  The lights flickered, the power went on and off for about an hour and then poof, no power for good.

I have a gas stove and gas heat.  Guess what?  you need electricity to start the gas stove and the thermostat is electric.  I couldn't do anything about the heat but I was able to gather candles and matches and light the stove with the matches.

What to eat when there's very little food that's not frozen?  Risotto.

I belong to the food related listserv.  In fact, joining it, 15 years ago was my first foray into learning about the internet.  Several years ago, the members of the listserv published a cookbook called CyberFeasts and Foodstocks.  A Foodstock is a gathering of people from the list and over years I have attended many foodstocks.

A second cookbook was published this year

and is dedicated to a member, Bob Pastorio, who died a few years ago.  Bob was a big presence in the group and everyone still misses him today.  He was generous with his time and advice and opinions on just about everything.

So, when I thought I would make risotto, I turned to Second Helpings because the first chapter is dedicated to The Pastorio Fundamentals and there is a basic recipe for risotto with variations.

So, I stood by the stove and lit each burner needed with matches.  I cooked by lantern light.  Risotto is very easy to make - melt butter and oil, saute minced shallots.  Add rice, stir for a couple of minutes to coat rice.  In the meantime, have hot chicken stock ready.  Spend the next 25 min, adding ladlefuls of stock to pan.  Stir until stock is absorbed, add more.  I added a cup of frozen peas with the last ladle of stock.  The variation I used was to diced up some asiago and mozzarella and put into a cup with some heated cream.  When all the stock was used up, I added the cheese and cream and stir until cheese is melted.

This was delicious and we ate by candlelight in the living room.  The rest of the evening, Sean and I perched flashlights on our shoulders and read our books.  There was still no power the next morning when we left to walk to work but by the time we came home, the power had returned.

I did think of my friend Gwendolyn who has spent the last 6 months going without electric light and blogging about the experience.    I figured she wouldn't even know if her power was off or not!

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