I hope everyone weathered the storm okay. It's wasn't as bad here in the city as elsewhere, but I don't think I have stayed inside so much in my life. Not only did I get pretty much all the stuff done that I have been avoiding all summer since I'd rather be sunning myself, I cooked like a crazy person. Hurricane is just another word for Party in my house.
Blame it on my Maine upbringing, but I'm pretty sure my ancestors would disown me if I wasn't already prepared for the power to go out at any given moment. Flashlights, a stockpile of batteries, candles and matches, buckets of water...this is my everyday supply closet. I was a bit appalled to have to run out to the grocery store on Saturday morning for a bit of ginger root and have to see people in a total panic, trying to BUY ALL THE THINGS and leaving the shelves with nothing but a thin coat of dust as they scoop up the last of the sad potted meat product.
Our fruit and veggie CSA this week had a lot of cucumbers, so I started a few batches of pickles. Refrigerator pickles are pretty damn easy and fast, and you can really get creative with the veggies you choose and the spices you use- cukes are an obvious choice, but cauliflower and greenbeans and carrots and oh, just about anything can be pickled. I'm such a fan of Szechuan spices, so I made a batch with all the good stuff I have from Penzy's. I used a basic refrigerator pickle recipe and replaced all the standard spices with decidedly more exotic- numbingly warm Szechaun peppercorns, garlic, ginger, Tien Tsin dried red peppers, and I used rice vinegar instead of regular white or apple cider.
You let the spices and vinegar come to a boil with a half cup of sugar and let it simmer for 10 minutes before pouring it in the jars with the cukes. Throw it in the fridge with lids once it is cool and in three days, you will eat like a king. The King of Pickles.
While I had that going on, I had a good sized watermelon that needed to be consumed. I scooped out the flesh, blended it with some water, ginger, fresh lime juice and some honey, strained the pulp and made a delicious agua fresca. It's perfect with vodka, rum or gin or just as a purely innocent teetotalism juice.
And all the gorgeous rind shouldn't end up in the garbage.
Cube it up and pickle it! It's the perfect vehicle to get more salty sweet brine into your diet.
Also with the CSA was about 10 pounds of perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes. I went to work making a batch of ricotta gnocchi, which I fried in a bit of butter before throwing chopped tomatoes, basil and garlic over it and some really nice olive oil.
It makes a fantastic lunch. Plus, I always make a double batch of the gnocchi and freeze half of the uncooked little lumps. I was hoping pretty hard that the power wouldn't go out. I was lucky, and I have enough gnocchi to feed a crowd.
At this point, I wasn't so soused on watermelon cocktails to forget about desert.
I had a quart of these tiny tart plums. Each one was hit or miss as to whether you would be able to bite into one without your face contorting into a permanent pucker, so I went ahead and cooked up a luscious tart. The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. If you are tight on kitchen space, she's the food blogger for you.
I made a few other things as well: a big pot of chili with cornbread muffins, ricotta pancakes for breakfast, a frittata that required the broiler to be on, which predictably lead to thick black smoke pouring out of the kitchen (but now my oven is clean). My friends stayed dry and well fed, with enough booze to go around to not care about what was going on outside. I felt like it was the most perfection I could possibly squeeze out of a crap situation.
The next morning, I was up early. We went for a walk to the park down the street to check out what kind of damage had been done.
There was a scenic lake where people are usually doing tai chi early in the day.
The skate park was now a swimming pool, with more than 4 feet of water in it.
There were a lot of sad corpses of giant old trees lying about.
I found a leaf insect who seemed kind of confused about the situation and was sitting on a brick wall.
There were quite a few people ignoring the "stay inside- it's still dangerous" warnings and checking things out. The high tide had washed over the roadway, shutting down the Belt Parkway earlier, but it was clear now.
The city still stands.
It was delightfully windy out on the pier. There were lots of people gleefully playing in the wind and watching the swells roll in the normally calm bay.
The clouds were whipping by in a furious tangle. The sun would peak through briefly, give us a wink, and then slip back into obscurity. By evening, the wind had died down and it was still and quiet, and there was a beautiful peachy sunset.
Which made me hungry for peaches. Good thing I had some on hand, because they are delicious cooked in a bourbon bath until they turn sticky with syrup. Topped with mint, it's like you have a little mint julep in edible form. It's transcendent.