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October 30, 2012

Eating (and Drinking) Your Way Through A Power Outage

Vienna-sausageHurricane Sandy spared Vermont from the worst of its wrath, but some of us are still without power. So, what do you do when all you have in the refrigerator — cheeses, lettuce, cucumber, radicchio, scallions, chicken thighs — needs to be eaten tout de suite?

My Oklahoma-born, tornado-bred grandfather had a simple solution for times such as this: Vienna Sausage and Schlitz. He once rode out a days-long wildfire this way, shut up tight in his trailer and resisting all efforts to evacuate.

He would probably grimace at my own au courant storm ideas — sear the radicchio, then melt Spring Brook Farm Raclette on top by shoving underneath my propane stove? Marinate the chicken thighs in orange juice, ginger and soy, then grill them? Others of my ilk prepared for Sandy, too. Seven Days multimedia producer Eva Sollberger made an epic-looking mushroom stroganoff, while Kathryn Vanderminden, a chef who runs Village Roots Catering in Pawlet, put together "a really big crockpot of venison stew with lots of veggies and potatoes." She's also blessed with a fully gas stove, she says, so she can roast squash throughout the week.

A treatise on the ins and outs of powerless dining from WiseBread senior writer Myscha Theriault was pinging around Facebook today. Theriault once weathered three months sans electricity on Guam — courtesy of a typhoon — and advocates for bulgur, powdered milk, charcuterie and foil packets during an outage.  

But for sheer practicality, the pointers from Seven Days food intern Sarah Alexander are ace. "Being a Florida native, I’ve beared witness to numerous storms and their wicked wrath," she writes. "Here are a few of my quick and dirty tips for storm survival."

They are:

• Call your local pizzeria and order two or three pizzas an hour or so before you expect the power to go out. It will remain delicious even after a day or two on your kitchen counter. Cold pizza can become your breakfast (and lunch, and dinner) of champions. 

• Stock up on alcoholic beverages. Hurricanes result in lots of time waiting by candlelight. Why not set the mood with a few bottles of red wine? They don't need to be refrigerated, and are the perfect companion to hours of cribbage or solitaire. 

• Access to protein can be an issue with the lack of a functioning stove. Make sure to have an abundance of canned beans on hand, as well as nuts and seeds. Trail mix? 

•Hard boil a dozen eggs for nutritious snacks.

Water and peanut butter were in short supply at my local Price Chopper yesterday, but wine and eggs were not; apparently, Floridian wisdom has not yet trickled up to these shores. Prost!

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