Thursday, February 3, 2011


We've been huddling beneath the clouds for DAYS now, and today, there's finally a hint of sunglint through the kitchen curtains. This picture is out our front doors, and it was MORNING, folks, not twilight.

The ice is slick and tenacious and has held us captive, cabinned in and not stepping out for anything. There was a bit of a Nesting frenzy the first couple of days: IT was coming, and we battened, we did. That huge blue hawk settled over us and everything within miles, and just hung there---the most vivid, blazened blue imaginable, with more threat of mayhem than we could remember.

We did every scrap of laundry in the house, against the loss of power and perhaps frozen pipes. We plotted and planned the closing-off of the upstairs openings, with the huge old faithful Franklin providing our heat, our food, our coffee in the Ibrik or a pan on the stove, for down here, with other plans for transporting the two smaller mattresses from upstairs down for the duration.

I "cooked some ahead"---putting by breads and muffins and a peach pie, with Caro making pans of brownies and Bumpy Road and all sorts of Things in Dishes for her fridge upstairs. I put leftover pork ribs to baking tender in foil with brown sugar, Sweet Baby Rays, and lacings of onions and garlic. A pot of Mother's Fridgerator Soup---almost from scratch, this time, with just cans of tomatoes and corn, and the leftover snap beans and potatoes, with tee-ninecy oniony meatballs fried and stirred in at the last.

There was that frenzy of how-much-water-do-we-have-caught-up, and the great stacks of fluffy towels were a bright light, somehow, in that I was PROVIDING. Once years ago when we took in neighbors for a week in an ice storm down South, I can remember the endless water-trips and the dishwashing and the cooking of more and more and more meals for nine, and beds to provide, and one thing that shone like a light in all that crowded togetherness was that neat drawer of dishtowels, folded and whitely pristine, waiting if I needed them. I'd be near tears of frustration and obligation to be hostess and look after everyone, with the never-ending tracking in and out and the need for more and more food on that stove, meal after meal and all in between, and just opening that drawer with its everyday stacks of clean cloth---that was a moment of refreshment that I can't explain. Isn't that a silly memory?

Chris never shirks driveway duty, rolling that big coughing monster up drive after drive, up and down the block. It's just been sheets of ice this time, and quite dangerous just to walk on. He just LOVES loud toys:

Yesterday was Sunday, somehow, but without church. We just hibernated, he and I, with Caro sleeping upstairs, with her own siege of this flu we had last week. For the first time I can remember, we sat sequestered in our chairs for hours, playing episode after episode of THE CAPE---we'd meant to watch, but never got around to it, so we were immersed in a dark Gothamness which went on and on, til we'd finished all five episodes.

For a little break, I went to the kitchen and got out that huge can of Phillips crabmeat from the fridge, plundered amongst the cabinets and shelves, and made a big gratin dish of that old Seventies' Favorite: Crabmeat on English Muffins.

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home

This was quite the party favorite, a craze nearly reaching the popularity of fondue pots, and I tried to re-create it with the big can of crabmeat, lots of grated Hoop Cheese, a cup or so of fresh-grated Parm, a bit of mayo and some Old Bay, with teensy minced onion stirred in.
While it sat and baked bubbly and golden in the oven (instead of the customary spread-on-the-muffins, broil, and cut into quarters of its past glories) I stuck several of those breaded Gorton's fish planks onto a little screen-pan in the oven, as well, and stirred up some quick tartar sauce (more of the minced sweet onion, a minced dill pickle, and Blue Plate) as well as some of Chris' Pink Sauce, which is his go-to fave on fish.
A quick iceberg salad, and dinner took maybe fifteen minutes of prep, and maybe thirty minutes of TV to be piping hot. Two split muffins into a buttered pan, a quick serving of plates, and back to our Saving-The-City with the Cape.
Quite the lazy day, which is what we needed after all the stress of the storm's anticipation and that lurking BLUE of the map, just waiting overhead like some great spread-winged monster, ready to pounce.
And this morning---we're still iced in, but Chris is coping, and the road crews' efforts are rewarded by no more fallage and icing. And the sun is still shining, so I'll be about the day.
My thoughts and prayers are with everyone beneath and affected by this weather and this storm, and especially with our friends in the devastation in Australia. May you all be safe and well during this stressful, dangerous time. I'm thinking of you.


Marlene said...

Well, Rachel, you make being snowed in sound like the grandest picnic/celebration EVER! I love your stories, every single one of them and
am evermore grateful that you continue to share them with us. Stay warm and snuggy!

Beverly said...

I well remember the crab on muffins dish, and we loved it, too. I'm hoping for some sunshine to melt the ice in your neck of the woods.

Kat said...

It's been years, but I remember those days of being TRAPPED inside with worry of what will we eat, drink and wear if we have no power for days and days. We lived in Nashville at the time and the kids were young and so excited to not have school. Nice that we survived them. LOL

Stay warm sweet friend. Hey, it's COLD here in the sunshine state too.


steelersandstartrek said...

This is definitely a Winter With Attitude. Please keep you and yours warm, safe, and UNDEREXERTED. (Are you listening, Chris?) When we lived in the midwest I ran on the local volunteer rescue squad, and there were so many folken who went out in the snow and overdid the scraping and the plowing and the shoveling. Bad backs were the least of the complications. Just please tell him to take it easy, he is too special a man to let weather tear him up. No, I think the day is better spent looking at old photos, watching cuddle movies, and sipping warm tea.

Thanks for sharing your day. It makes me wish we were there (just as I do every time I get to peek into your world.)

Kim Shook said...

Well, my dearest said it all - and better than I ever could!

I do indeed wish we were there. We call those things 'Crab Meltaways' and it wouldn't be New Year's Eve without them!

I'm re-reading the Little House books right now. Some folks on eG are reading them from a 'food' perspective and your description of y'all's cozy day sounds utterly different as to particulars, but so similar in feeling.

racheld said...

Thank you ALL for the WARM wishes and the wishes for WARMTH!!

Chris did a lot of Ice Chipping today---there were solid sheets impeding the paths to the driveways, and he and a hatchet stood between the mailman and certain slippage. And Chris did take a slide, but no injuries---I think he threw out his hands in one of those Karate Slaps, and that broke the vigor of the fall.

And the Little House books are certainly of a cooking/eating theme, especially Farmer Boy---every page is a meal for ten, it seems, and I can't imagine HOW Mama Wilder EVER stacked up those hundred pancakes every morning, or got Sunday Dinner done on time, in that floaty hoopskirt with the immense sleeves.

But the one I've been thinking of all week was the time they had someone grinding wheat in the coffee grinder, taking turns day and night, for that was all they had when THEY were snowed in.

Keetha said...

The joy and peace you took from the store of clean linens - that is not a silly memory! I know just what you mean. Sometimes I get refreshed when I look in the freezer and see the chicken stock I've made.

I love reading how you readied for the ice storm. Luckily, we've gotten just a bit of ice here. Snow is fun, ice treacherous!

Tonja said...

Rachel, I'm sure now that we are kindred spirits. I am not a good cook. I don't do well in the kitchen. The best thing I do in there is decorate. :-) And, clean it up, I can do that, too. But, it is a must for me to have my dishcloths and towels folded and folded again, and put in the drawer next to each other. They must be tight so that the stack stays in place. It's a beautiy. Like with like.
When I moved into this kitchen, Don said, "why are you taking a whole drawer just to put those towel in there so fancy?" "Because I finally have a drawer that I can put them in!" I told him. At our other house we only had 2 drawers, so my linens were stacked in a the corner of the big cabinet over the stove. UGH! They never stayed...always tipping over.
But, now...I have me a drawer just for the linens and I love it! Not sure why that was important to me. But it is.
As hard as it is to be stuck inside...I sorta of like the idea that I cn not leave. I can not go anywhere. I'm going to be cocooned in the house all day.
Of course...I only feel this way for a the middle of the second day, I begin climbing the walls!!!!!:-)