Although I bet most of us hate to admit it, we Westerners are pretty dependent upon our electricity. Spoiled is another word that comes to mind. Lucky? For sure.
When we lose power due to natural disasters like Hurricane Irene (most recently for us on the East Coast) we are reminded of all the things we take for granted on a daily basis: television, internet, hot showers, air conditioning, cooked food … maybe not in that order of priority.
I knew we were going to lose power this time, as we had plenty of forewarning of what was headed our way with the hurricane, but I didn’t know just how long we would be without it. I spent all day baking before the hurricane hit. Sandwich bread, blueberry muffins, homemade pasta … I even made pumpkin pie for some reason (weird almost-Fall craving?). I stocked up on munchies like nuts, dried fruit and trail mix, and had just been to the local Farmer’s Market where I bought too much (fresh fruits and veggies for me are eye candy!), so I needed to think up some way of using them before they went bad too.
Of course living gluten-free is more challenging than living without any food restrictions whatsoever, but I had to adopt a new level of cooking creativity for the multiple days we were without power. I had kids to interest in dinners, and I had expiration dates on expensive food to consider! That’s where the nuts, trail mix and canned foods really came in handy.
Fortunately, the weather was temperate, otherwise we would have had even more spoilage from all the fresh fruit I invariably have in the kitchen. Coolers of ice and a small generator kept much of the rest of it from being totally lost.
Focusing on using and re-using foods I didn’t want to go to waste was actually pretty easy: frozen gluten-free waffles, French Toast with gluten-free bread and even omelets with grilled veggies all can be cooked in a pan over a gas flame; instant gluten-free oats are super easy because they only require boiling water poured over them to be fully cooked; s’mores are an obvious (and necessary!) campfire food; and Ratatouille is a great base or accompaniment for several different meals!
My favorite “ingredient” that got us through though, was the vegetables. We grilled a massive amount of Farmer’s Market finds the first night without power, and kept using them in other things: omelets; Ratatouille; on gluten-free sandwich bread with hummus; and on grilled gluten-free pizza! Talk about efficient and delicious!
We didn’t go out to eat like a lot of other folks who don’t eat gluten-free, largely because I don’t have the choices that many others do at any given restaurant that might have been open, but also because I’m picky (hey, at least I can admit it!). Nonetheless, we made out pretty well on fresh healthy food, saving money, and cooking creatively together as a family and with friends.
Dozens of UNO and Battleship games played to candlelight behind me, can I say that Irene was a blessing in disguise? Maybe not. But it was a reminder that we are blessed, nonetheless.