I can’t help but snicker a little bit as I peruse the Facebook and Twitter feeds today; you’d think, from all the dire warnings and “emergency updates,” that the Northeast was expecting an apocalyptic hail of fire and brimstone instead of, well, a bunch of snow. I’ll grant you that 12-16 inches is not a paltry amount of precipitation, even in New England, but neither is it the kind of snowfall that should be paralyzing entire states that are equipped with snow plows, road salt, and all the other trappings of winter weather management. I’m sure that a childhood spent in Upstate New York — at the two ends of the Erie Canal, Buffalo and Albany — colors my perception of what really makes a “snow event,” and certainly here in RI, by the water, feet upon feet of snow is a rarity. But seriously, folks. I just finished reading the bulletin put out by the state’s EMA, and I have to ask: gallons of drinking water for each household member? A stash of non-perishable food items, manual can openers, and fire extinguishers? Are these recommendations for a foot of snowfall, or for armageddon?
Unless your household happens to be right at the end of a grocery shopping cycle, and you’re the Mother Hubbard type who runs all the staples down to the last crumb of bread or drop of milk before replenishing, chances are that whatever is in your pantry right now would get you through a couple of housebound days. J. and I are quite comfortable that we’re prepared to stave off starvation; we’re more concerned, frankly, about losing electricity for more than half a day or so and trying to keep the boys from climbing the walls without benefit of the DVD player or Nick Jr. to give us all a break. Heck, I could even cook dinner without electricity, since we have a gas stove (and if all else fails, a gas grill on our covered deck — sure, I’d be freezing, but we’d have a hot meal).
Still, I’m running through a little mental checklist for snow day provisions, not because I think we’re in mortal danger, but because being snowed in can be fun. As long as we still have heat and (hopefully) electricity, there really is something picturesque and nostalgic about sitting inside the warm house, listening to the wind whistle outside the windows, watching the drifts pile up while we play games and wrap everybody up in warm pjs and blankets. To me, snow days mean endless pots of hot coffee, mugs of tea and cocoa, and an excuse to go nuts with comfort food. With nothing but time and cold weather on your hands, there’s no better way to keep the good cheer than baking up some treats, simmering some soup, and filling the whole house with good smells.
So rather than view the prescription to stockpile bread and milk as a sign of impending doom, I’m taking it as a hint that it’s high time to cozy up with the family and make those survival staples into something extra-good:
Bread and Milk sounds like French toast to me. Better yet, maybe bread pudding. Or we could use the milk for hot cocoa, and the bread for panini.
Canned Goods in our house usually mean tomatoes, beans, and pumpkin. Marinara sauce…smoky black beans…creamy pumpkin soup…
Non-perishable food items like flour and sugar, perhaps? Maybe I’d better use those up rather than wait for them to go bad as we sit in our house for weeks or months at a time, stranded with no hope of rescue by a foot of snow. Or maybe I just really want an excuse to bake. All that snow, all that time…it practically begs for homemade bread, plus a stash of muffins to keep in the freezer. And if the electricity holds, I could use my new waffle iron for the first time. Yup, I could do some serious damage with that.
Oh, yeah, there’s a snow day coming, and now I have to admit I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t play out the way I’ve envisioned it. The urge to hibernate in the kitchen with my kids is too strong to resist. I think tonight I’ll have to go home and make a little offering to the snow day gods by taking another shot at perfecting a slow cooker oatmeal recipe, just to get things started on the right foot. And maybe, if I get it right this time, it’ll make me less cranky tomorrow morning if I wake up to busy streets and clear skies.