Windy City–Getting Ready

26 Aug

That right there is bearing down on my area as we speak. Ugly, ain’t she? If the weather guys are right, Irene will be the first big storm to hit the D.C. area since Isabel, which knocked out my power for nearly five days, flooded a bunch of houses near to my heart, and caused me to loathe and despise hurricanes and tropical storms. I had a two-year-old and a newborn then, and let’s just say it was less than amusing.

I’ve been away for the last week and seem to have arrived home just in time for Irene to pound on my door (leave my trees alone, wench!). The plan was to hit the grocery store yesterday afternoon, but not wanting to meet every crazed person in my Zip code, I waited, and went to my local market at 5:40 this morning.

You read that right. It was still relatively busy in there, believe it or not, and they had one register open (you suck, Giant!), and there were plenty of crazy-eyed people snatching anything not nailed down from the shelf as I did my regular shopping.

So here’s the point: It’s a good idea to prepare for storms like these, and you don’t have to resort to PB&J and granola bars for a week after one hits.

I have two things in my arsenal that help me, both of which were purchased after Isabel made me crazy in 2003. The first is a gasoline-powered generator that will keep my fridge, coffee maker, and a few other things running; it cost about one and a half refrigerators’ worth of food, so you can do the math to figure out if that kind of investment is worth it for your family. It keeps me from completely losing my composure during extended outages (which, sadly, are not rare here in the nation’s capital) and lets me relax a bit.

The second is a gas range, which I can light with a flame and keep cooking. Now, if you don’t have a gas range, it’s time to stock up on propane or charcoal for your grill, because the rest of this still applies to you. And if you don’t have a generator, go grab some dry ice or block ice (lasts longer than cubes) and a big cooler or two, and keep on reading.

Post-storm cooking is a lot like camping. Make a list of meals that are stovetop-friendly, shop accordingly, and save yourself from Wonderbread Syndrome after two or three days sans electricity. Just about anything you make on the stove regularly or in a Crockpot can be cooked on a gas range or a grill when the power’s out. I’m planning tacos and pasta for a few days after Irene, so those are possibilities. Steak, burgers, bbq chicken, pad thai, lo mein, fish filets or steaks–all are great on the grill or the gas range (make sure you have one or two heavy-bottomed pans and pots around, so your grill doesn’t burn your food if you’re going to cook that way; my Calphalon is awesome on the grill). Throw your griddle or large pan on there and enjoy pancakes, French toast, eggs, bacon–think breakfast for dinner.

Make a list of things that are grill/gas range friendly and shop from it a day or two before a storm, and you’ll be golden after. Of course, stock up on things like water and batteries (and, yes, granola bars and peanut butter) too; we’ve had a shelf for such things in our house since September 11, 2001 and refresh it every few months. Freeze a gallon of milk and a container of juice ahead of time, and you can both use those as ice in your cooler after and sip from them as they thaw; ditto, of course, for water. Think camping!

I’m not looking forward to this storm, which they’re saying is going to hit my town sometime tomorrow afternoon. But my kitchen is ready and we have a pile of books, magazines, art supplies, and board games at the ready, and I know the power guys will be out as soon as they can after to bring us all back online. Hugs to you if you’re in her path with me, and chat next week!


Don’t forget my giveaway!! It’s super easy!

1) “Like” Playing With My Dinner on Facebook and post a note on the wall saying hi so I know you’re new in town, or

2) Convince a friend to “like” the blog and post a note telling me you referred them, and…

You can win a $30 giftcard to Williams-Sonoma! Buy yourself a super fun present to have even more fun by the stove! Like the blog or refer a friend by September 1 to enter!

3 Responses to “Windy City–Getting Ready”

  1. Ali August 26, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    Great post!! Thank you so much and I love all the cooking ideas. As a woman who has been camping once in her life, I really appreciate it. Love the idea of freezing milk and juice. Brilliant.

  2. Maureen August 26, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

    I am a friend of Tracey (here in IL).
    Please stay safe!

  3. Deborah August 27, 2011 at 6:50 am #

    May Irene be nice to all of us!
    Will miss you all today!

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