Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Continuing Christmas Silence

I'm sitting at my desk next to the window and large, white flakes are whipping around outside. I knew this snow storm was coming and yesterday I made preparations. I now have plenty of food, lantern fuel, candles and of course water. I don't have a furnace but I've got a wood-stove that has been my companion for over thirty years and plenty of wood to feed it. I can either cook on the wood-stove or use my kitchen stove which is fueled by propane. Without power, the only thing I would need to light the propane stove is a  match and yes, I've got a box of "strike anywhere" matches. I've battened down the hatches and I am as prepared as I can be for whatever comes my way. I've been through this umpteen times and this time will probably be no different.

As fortunate as I am in having my little fortress, I know others may not be so lucky, however as is always the case, preparations around our community will allow those without heat should we lose power to at least have a warm place to go with food provided. Inconvenient? Yes, but most are usually very grateful for this. I've even had neighbors in my own home when the need arose for a warm place. You learn a lot about your neighbors in these situations. Stiff upper lip and all that rot right?

But for now the peace and quiet is exquisite. Any noise outside is muffled except for the occasional metal scraping of the town plow going by. This gives me a chance to get a peek as to how much snow we've gotten so far. So, what does one do on a day or two of this? Cook. I have taken a new loaf of bread out of the oven and that has been replaced with a pot of homemade, french-Canadian style, baked beans for this evening's supper. I got that recipe from my Mama. Navy pea beans, salt-pork, onion and prepared mustard. Nope, no sugar.  I may have been born a mere hour from Boston, but Boston Baked Beans with all that sugar and molasses has never ever tickled my palate.

I've been on a quest for over a year for a fluffy, moist, home-made bread that will retain its freshness for 4 or 5 days. Two weeks ago I finally found one, or I should say I found a new method of making my own  bread recipe. I've not been disappointed.  This bread is so soft, moist and fluffy that you can make little dough balls out of the crumb and flick them around the house. My only problem now, as it has been for a few years, is in finding plastic bread bags to store it in. Other than having to order 1000's of bags at a time or just a few that cost more per bag than the ingredients in the bread, I approached my super market that has its own bakery and was able buy 20 bags from them for less than two dollars. Can't beat that huh ;). They are rather thick, so that makes them reusable. Even better! I don't know why I never thought of asking them before, but better late than never.

I keep a cast iron tea kettle on the wood-stove to get a bit of humidity in the house.  I made my own potpourri for the kettle last week consisting of nutmeg, cinnamon, a bit of allspice and a half cup of apple cider.  This is by far better than anything I've bought in the past to add to my kettle. Imagine the smells wafting through the house at the moment, the potpourri, bread, beans baking....yeah...see what I mean? Its enough to make me want to nap it is so relaxing. I probably will a bit later. The beans can take care of themselves. I also got skinless franks to go with the beans. The best. Old Neighborhood brand. Got that? Get them.

I've got three glass lanterns in case we do lose power. All are rather tall, 12" or more, with a glass chimney and glass fuel globe on the bottom. Ever put a lantern in front of a piece of polished metal? The reflective, diffused light is almost as bright as an incandescent bulb. Now light three of them and you have as much light as you had before the power went out. Perfect to read by without eye strain. I keep the candles for the bedroom and bathroom. It's plenty of light.

Books. I'm never without books. After home-made beans, books are next in priority. They don't sit on my shelves to look pretty but to consume and consumed they are. Like the beans. I've already picked out a book to read should the time allow, and it will, I promise you. It's by Archbishop Charles Chaput. Did you know his name is pronounced "chapoot" ? Yeah, I found that out about a year ago. I still pronounce it "chapit". Force of habit. Forgive me Archbishop. What do you want from a Yankee that pronounces Worcester as "woostah" or Gloucester as "glosta"?  I have a few more, but we shan't go there. If you want to go there, take the log out of your own eye first...we all have our foibles when it comes to pronunciations.

Update: The snow is coming down faster now. The only things faster are the chickadees that are flitting back and forth from the bush outside my window to the bird-feeder. The frequency in which I have to refill that feeder makes me wonder if those chickadees are actually flying pigs rather than birds...

The quiet is now profound. I can hear the cats purring but it is a gentle purr. The lady of the house is even quieter than the cats because she reads a lot and not a peep can be heard from her. No, she's not reading "chapoot", but murder mysteries. No thanks. To me, reading Agatha Christie is like having to eat Boston Baked Beans.

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