Tag Archives: winter


The snow has started.

It’s not going to stop any time soon, either.  We’re in for a serious winter storm.  We’ve had barely any measurable snow so far this winter, so I guess we were due. Not much chance it will fall only on the green parts of the world. We’re expecting somewhere between a foot and a ridiculous amount of snow, and hoping that the electricity stays on.

We both came home from work prudently early, while trains were still running and roads were clear enough for safe passage. Since then, I puttered in the kitchen and stocked the woodpile; she did what she does: she’s been writing email copy for a message that will be sent from her work account tomorrow. She helps raise money to shelter, feed, and support homeless children.  What better time to send such a message as to be read by people who’ve already hunkered down, warm and safe in their homes?

The fireplace is set.  The flashlights have batteries, and candles are at the ready. There’s plenty of cat food and litter-box filler. Prescriptions have been refilled. We have blankets and warm clothes.

And, of course, food.

A batch of pulled pork came out of the slow cooker.  She made chili. We’ve got cold cuts for sandwiches. She baked cranberry bread last night, and I have a loaf of No-Knead about to go into the oven, now that a batch of granola has come out. There are baked potatoes. Greens. Eggs–some hard-boiled, many ready for omelets or scrambling. There’s a cast-iron pot and skillet in case we need to press coals into service for cooking.

We probably ought to remind ourselves that there are only two of us, and that we live on an emergency route.

For reasons probably related to the barometer the bread dough was a sticky mess, but at last it’s in the oven and I’m not banging about. Tapping of laptop keys, the furnace blowing warm air, the cats’ fountain keeping their water fresh.  Outside, a plow truck scrapes by occasionally, sounding a little like a low-passing aircraft.  Beyond that, the world is still and silent. When the sun rises we’ll see what’s become of the world, but for now there’s the eerie calm-during-the-storm, the held breath of the pretty well prepared, and the waiting.

Long before the storm

What Would Laura Do?

Every year, she reads Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, a story of hardship during seven snowy months in South Dakota. The coal runs out, the woodpile expires, and food is scarce, but the heroine and her family survive.

We’re a week away from the start of winter, but, even more than usual, ’tis the season of work-nights and event-nights; ’tis also the week in which renovations will reach the open-plan living room and kitchen. The combination of late hours and a fine layer of plaster dust on every surface can be as daunting as the forecast of a blizzard. It’s the sort of schedule that demonstrates incredible potential to leave us ordering lots of takeout food or ending up with pints of ice cream and spoons on our nightstands. We wanted to avoid those contingencies for obvious reasons of economics, nutrition, and just plain good sense.

While I was at work last Sunday, she prepared a menu and a shopping list; we marketed together, and then we spent the late afternoon and evening chopping and cooking and packaging.

I spatchcocked a chicken and roasted it. The backbone went into the slow cooker along with onion, celery, and carrots to make stock. When the chicken cooled enough to handle, we ate a little and distributed the rest. The breast meat went into a curried chicken-and-rice soup that was more like a stew. The dark meat was tossed in a bowl with celery, grapes, pecans, shredded spinach, and a not-at-all gloppy dressing to make a bright-but-hearty salad–the sort eaten with a fork, not spread for sandwiches. The rest of the bones then joined the stock. The last of a loaf of Italian bread from her favorite bakery was toasted into croutons that she mixed with ground beef and pork, spinach, and goat cheese to make a meat loaf that is way more interesting than anything I grew up with. Root vegetables were roasted to accompany them. The chicken’s giblety-bits were sautéed with onion, red pepper, and a few grape tomatoes and packed with the last bit of rice for one day’s lunch. Crisp, sweet pears were softened just a little with a bit of water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a cup of cranberries from the freezer, then tucked into triangles of pie crust and baked into turnovers for breakfast, with a pot of overnight oatmeal for alternate mornings. The house smelled fabulous, and nothing was wasted.

By bedtime we knew we’d miscalculated a little: the fridge was stocked for a family of four rather than two, but that’s a better problem than the other way around.  There’s enough variety that we haven’t gotten bored with our choices.   The power wasn’t disturbed and the home microwave is in good working order (as are the ones in our workplace kitchens), so breakfasts and lunches were well-organized and we never felt helpless to do anything but call for pizza delivery.

The calendar shows that our next seven nights will be just as busy as the last. And now that the ceiling has been repaired, the painter will start on the kitchen and living room walls. It’s time for her to start reading her yearly reminder of courage in the face of adversity. But we have electricity, insulation, and we live along an emergency route to a hospital; in case of a storm, our street will be cleared of snow right away.  If they could survive that winter, we can make it ’til Christmas…

We didn’t have time for a cookathon yesterday, but the toaster oven is set up in our office, and I could put the slow-cooker on my dresser. We can hitch up the wagon and get to town for provisions before The Long Winter sets in. There’ll be more daylight soon, day by day. There’s no cause for despair.