It’s been a week since Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey coastline; a week of darkness and biting cold that will not be soon forgotten. My kids remain out of school; their last day in school was October 26th and the electric company estimates they’ll be out until November 11th. The inside of my dark house is just 50-degrees, but this week will be colder than last week and I hear there is a new storm that will hit in a few days. Because the damage was so sever there is no place to go to warm up and take a break from the realities of the storm’s aftermath. No internet for the kids at the library or Panera. Of course, if you are reading this blog, then you have internet and undoubtedly know much more that me about the storm and its aftermath. I have had virtually no news, except for a very little that I can get on my cell phone. But from a personal perspective, I can tell you that the most demoralizing part of this past week has been the gas lines. Lines stretching farther than the eye can see (no exaggeration). Even though I had a small generator I cannot use it for lack of gas.
But there may be brightness on the horizon. I see that there has been progress in the last 24-hours. Power to thousands in my town has come back over the weekend. Today is my first day back to work, as my office has had its power restored. My kids are spending the day with friends who do have power. So while my personal situation with my power being restored seems bleak; I lost two 80-foot trees into the power lines behind my house. I do finally see some light at the end of this dark tunnel. Tonight we will finally celebrate Halloween.
Collection of my Black-out recipes and how to adapt them:
1. Shrimp Scampi. This will probably be the first recipe you make, because without a freezer you need to use your defrosting shrimp. It’s easy to make and ready in about 15 minutes, instead of the usually 40 minutes (owing to your pre-thawed shrimp).
2. BBQ Chicken Skewers. Required: Grill. The only adaptation is to slice a half-pound of bacon into 1″ lengths. Put one 1″ slice of bacon between each piece of chicken. While the bacon paste provides a more even coating, this method is still delicious and will be the best recipe you make during your blackout.
3. Beer Can Chicken. Required: Grill. I was able to find a whole 7-pound chicken on sale for $7. It takes a total of 3-1/2 hours; 2-hours for the dry spices to marinate the meat, and another 1-1/2 hours to cook and rest. But if you don’t mind the unattended time; then this chicken can be made with very little actual effort.
4, Ground Beef Tacos. Hopefully you have some cheese leftover in your ice chest. Plus I was able use some ground beef that I found buried in the freezer. When power eventually comes back, my refrigerator and freezer will be completely empty.
5. Chicken Big Mac. The chicken can be cooked either in a skillet or on the grill. The only drawback was that the buns cost me $5 because the supermarket only had the super expensive buns in stock.
6. Chicken Saltimboca. Of course you’ll need a supermarket to buy the prosciutto, but this can be made in under 30-minutes. It was the second recipe I ever posted on this blog back in January of 2010. I intend to post an update to the recipe, and I’ve adapted Chris Kimball’s original recipe to render more flavorful sauce.
7. Pizza. Required: Oven that can be lit manually. I didn’t make the dough, but bought one of those pre-risen doughs from the store’s refrigerated section. I still had mozzarella left over.
There you have them. Seven back-out recipes for 7-powerless days. I will add to this posting as I come up with more recipes that can be made during blackout.
Day 8. Italian Sausage Sandwiches. I sliced the sausage into wheels, and cut the onion into half-rings. I also used some beer to deglaze the pan to get more of the caramelized flavor into the sandwiches. I cooked 2 sausages per person, but 2-1/2 per person would have been better. Chris Kimball has a recipe for the grill here, but its too cold to be outside and you’ll have to cook the onions extra to compensate for the lack of microwave.
Day 10. Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. The main limitation of this recipe is that it requires nearly a quart of milk. You will have to forego the nice oven-toasted crust, but you can substitute crumbled bacon for an extra punch of flavor. Homemade mac & cheese will make the kids happy, and can still please an adult (unlike the boxed version). Still no power at my house, but at least the kids are back in school.