Sandy Stories: How To Eat Without Power (or Heat)



One of the things I missed in the weeks after Sandy — besides, heat, hot water and electricity, of course — was the ability to create a delicious meal.

Mike and I were in the house for a time in the dark and cold but we still had to eat (although our appetite was diminished a bit due to stress and cold.)

Our power was out, but we still had the gas stove to cook food and make coffee  All I had to do was turn the knob and use the clicker to start the flame going.

I was able to make delicious coffee because I miraculously found my mother`s 40+ year old Farberware percolator coffee pot. The milk stayed cool on the window ledge, although it probably could have stayed cold in the middle of our kitchen, too.  After a frigid night of attempted sleep, Mike and I appreciated that hot, strong coffee.

I had some difficulty, however, in creating meals for us. There were no grocery stores open nearby, so we relied on the contributions of food brought to us by family and friends. I would suspect that everyone thought the meat would go bad in the window ledge, so the food of choice given to us were beans.

All kinds of beans: red kidney, white kidney, cannellini, chickpeas, navy beans and black beans sat in bags on the kitchen floor. Cans of tuna fish were there too, but they were not edible without mayonnaise (of which we had plenty of in the basement, before the storm.)

By the fourth day I just got tired of looking at the cans of beans or eating them plain and realized what I could do with them, something that would warm us up in the cold, too: Soup!

The bags of carrots and celery and onions that had been in the now empty refrigerator were wilting on the window ledge. So I took the large pot that I had rescued from the flooded basement and began chopping the vegetables.

I took several cardboard boxes of Trader Joe`s vegetable, chicken or beef broth and put all of that with the many cans of beans and mixed it up. I added a bunch of spices from the spice rack, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, parsley, cilantro, pepper and salt.

I stirred it all and after a while it smelled pretty good. When it was done, I had a huge pot of delicious soup.  I shared it with Mike and our neighbors. The hot soup was also served in styrofoam cups to the Sanitation workers who diligently and daily removed the garbage from our streets. It warmed my heart to make them feel a little better.

It also felt good to use the generous gifts of family and friends in a positive way.

But the novelty of cooking in a cold, dark house soon wore off.

Mike and I found refuge in the warmth of our daughter Katie`s lovely apartment, where cooking meals was a lot easier to do. Plus, there was heat!