Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Storm

I woke up at 3:52 a.m. because my yorkie, Arthur, was barking mad. Noises outside were alarming him and he wanted me to know! Ice machine rumbles outside my bedroom window confused me. What was happening? Bits of icicles from the maple were falling onto the metal roof. The picture to the left is of that sight at 4:00 a.m. when I realized the freezing rain was turning everything into ice-encased wonderland. My husband, considering he never was a boyscout, was bustling about making sure we had flashlights, operational generator, hot-tap shower, and firewood. He took a shower and encouraged me to hurry and take one in case the power went out. The news advised that this was the beginning of the storm and we had 24-30 more hours of this.
David called the office staff and told them not to come in. He moved the field employee's vehicles from under the trees to a safer location by the cornfield. Unfortunately, two employees didn't leave their keys with us and their cars are under some maples that may be a problem later.
I was groggy and not as composed as he. The only thing I could think of was to cook. So, I fried some bacon, made biscuits, and cooked up an egg. We ate and joked about only having half a loaf of bread, a little milk, and no eggs.
David left for work. Now, I have to say, he didn't have to go to work, this was an excuse to see the scenery. He called from the office, and gave me a full report. As he was talking to me, he was fishing for his keys. Guess what? He left them at home. Ha. He came back home, ate a couple more slices of bacon and left again with his office keys.
I couldn't stand it. I grabbed my camera and headed out. First I went to the backyard. The old black walnut that had gotten struck by lightning last spring was completely down. I took a few pictures through the fencing. I looked at the garden. I always leave herbs and some of the taller bushier plants up during the winter for the birds to rest in. The angular branches encased in ice were so beautiful. The wild arugula looked like lace. The peppers looked trapped like the fruit in the eau vie bottles. The chive blossoms looked like a crystal bouquet. Everything was so surreal. And then I started hearing the popping and cracking. I looked across the street, and realized the tops were snapping out of the black locusts. A brittle tree, this ice would be their demise.
I took my chances, and walked under the sugar maples in the side yard to the front. To my dismay, the maple's branches were snapping. It was odd, a snap across the street and immediately an acknowledging snap in the front yard. And, this is only the beginning?
The hundred year old trees were definitely going to feel the effects. I looked by the old coach house. I felt a pain in my heart as I realized the ancient dogwood had split in half.
Once again in the warm house, I wondered how long this warmth would last. The lights were flickering. David called. The office was completely dark. The substation was down in E'town. I called Nolin and was informed many feeder lines to many substations were down. No idea how long this would be the case. I advised David. He called me back a little later. His buddy told him probably 3 days and that was only if it didn't get worse. Again, this was only the beginning of the storm according to Jim Cantore, Weather Channel correspondent located in Paducah, KY. Hmmm...
Still, at 10:53 a.m., we have electricity. I had planned on doing some recipe testing today. I'm probably pushing my luck. How bad would I feel with a batch of cookies in a lifeless oven? Now I'm looking over at my Christmas present I haven't had the chance to play with, a chocolate tempering machine. Should I? Again, pushing my luck...
I am amazed with all the internet troubles over the last two weeks that I am able to do this. Although, when I just autosaved, a message came up that it was unable to connect to blogger. Maybe, I should cut this short. I am typing very quickly, and probably will not proofread. Again, pushing my luck.
When it's cold there are comfort foods that at the mere mention of their names, one's soul warms and if lucky, fingertips too. Cornbread, chili, pudding, cocoa, soup, these are the warming foods that comfort me. Last night, I baked up some cornbread to serve alongside beef stew. Being a thrifty soul, I had save a few choice pieces of steak, brisket, and a roast. David would die if he knew I had frozen those bits and created the delicous stew he slurped down several bowls of. He is not a leftover eater. He is now. Hee. Anyway, the cornbread was gussied up with coconut milk. It was very subtle. David never even knew. He just commented on the moistness. I think next time, I will toast some unsweetened coconut and toss it in the batter. It was really tasty.
Coconut Cornbread
Serves: 6-8
1-1/2 cups self-rising yellow corn meal mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup coconut milk (I dumped the remainder in the stew, he never even knew it)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 10" iron skillet by spraying with a non-stick spray.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well. Pour batter into greased skillet.
Pop in oven for 15 minutes or until lightly golden on top and firm in the center.
Cool for 5 minutes before cutting.

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