Johann at Art Association during Hurricane Sandy.

Johann near the Art Asso­ci­a­tion path­way and benches, which are com­pletely underwater.

Well, we made it through the storm OK. We didn’t have to evac­u­ate like we did last year. The winds were pretty strong and we could hear things falling over and blow­ing around. The water level rose quickly. Thank­fully, the water stopped ris­ing at the edge of the curb sur­round­ing our park­ing lot. One more inch and it would have come up to our build­ing. We feel like we dodged another bul­let and count our­selves lucky that we only went with­out power for 2  1/2 days.

When the bare neces­si­ties of food, water, and shel­ter are threat­ened, it’s funny how quickly every­thing else falls away and your sole focus becomes how you will acquire those three things. Mys­tic Pizza had power, so we got din­ner there Mon­day night. Then Johann’s lessons in cre­ative cook­ing started with reheat­ing the last of the ham and bean soup in the chaf­ing dish with sterno. I made tor­tillas ahead of time as well, which made great refried bean and cheese que­sadil­las on the grill. Hot dogs are always a favorite. It was lightly rain­ing Tues­day night, so it was Johann’s job to hold the umbrella over Eric and the grill while they were cooking.

Expect­ing that the power would be out for at least a week like last year, we had more meals already planned. Last night was grilled pizza night. Even though our power went back on around 2am yes­ter­day morn­ing, Johann requested that we still make the pizza. He was hav­ing so much fun with our new meal plans that he didn’t want to stop!

That made me feel really good. Food is com­fort and prepar­ing food with love is one way to show how I care about my fam­ily. I am very much like my Ukrain­ian great-grandmother in that respect. When­ever times have got­ten rough, I have taken solace in the fact that I can still bake bread or cook some­thing to take care of my fam­ily. As long as I can do that, things aren’t as bad as they could be.

Flooded parking lot.

The park­ing lot behind our building.

Once we had eaten as much of what we could that was going to go bad in the freezer, our thoughts turned to our win­ter store of rhubarb. Every sum­mer while rhubarb is in sea­son, we buy some for pies right away and some to set aside for later. The fam­ily recipe we like has large chunks of rhubarb with a thick­ened sim­ple sugar syrup, not the store bought mushy-type fill­ing. I had enough rhubarb chopped and frozen for two or three pies, depend­ing on how gen­er­ous I was with how much went into each pie.

Some of the food had already thawed and we just couldn’t save it, but we couldn’t bear to lose our win­ter store of rhubarb for two years in a row! If the power hadn’t come back on, we planned to use the sin­gle camp burner we bought to make crepes with a rhubarb fill­ing. Since the power did go back on and I can now bake, I baked two rhubarb pies yes­ter­day. We won’t be able to enjoy the rhubarb in Decem­ber, Jan­u­ary, or Feb­ru­ary as we’d hoped, but eat­ing it now is bet­ter than it end­ing up in the trash.

My two rhubarb pies with pie crust cookies.

My “rus­tic” rhubarb pies and some pie crust cook­ies. I hate to waste the extra pie crust that gets cut off!

I’m exper­i­ment­ing with a new pie crust that uses oil instead of soy mar­garine or veg­etable short­en­ing, which is pre­dom­i­nantly soy mar­garine. With breast can­cer in the fam­ily now, I have to change my diet and soy mar­garine is a colos­sal “no,no”. The pies don’t look as pretty as they might, but they should still taste good. I’ll just say I was going for the rus­tic look. Yeah, that’s it!

At any rate, I will get lots of prac­tice with my new pie crust recipe in the very near future. We went apple pick­ing at Holm­berg Orchards before the storm. I now have a large cooler full of Rome and Wine­sap apples with which to cook and bake. I also have on my to-do list to learn how to pre­pare the recipes from A Fork in the Trail, a cook­book on cook­ing while camp­ing or hik­ing, and to can the rhubarb for next year.