Friday, September 2, 2011

Hurricane aftermath

We lost power for two and a half days.

But thanks to all my prep work, we passed through largely unscathed.

Because I'd turned most everything in the fridge into something that could be eaten at room temperature, fridge losses were minimal: a container of ricotta that had already started to go bad, and some cracked eggs that dropped out of the bottom of the soggy egg container when I lifted it out of the cooler.

That's it, really. I was worried about losing the meat in the freezer, but we kept it closed the entire time--well, except to remove the rest of the ice cream, which we ate for dinner one night. Some of the meat had started to thaw a little, but as long as it doesn't thaw all the way, you can refreeze it without worry. So everything in the freezer should be okay. I haven't checked the chicken broth in the fridge yet, that might be a loss, but when you consider all the eggs and cream and cheese that survived, we did pretty well.

So, here's how to get through a major power loss with minimal food loss:

1. DON'T OPEN THE FREEZER. Keep it shut tight.
2. Transfer all the perishables (eggs, cream, milk, cheese, meat) into a big cooler with ice. Keep the ice replenished daily. Everything that doesn't have to stay cold--condiments, juice, butter, bread, fruit, beer, veggies, etc.--leave out on the counter.
3. Take stock of the stuff in the cooler that might not make it (lunch meat, cheese about to go bad) and make sure you eat those things first.
4. Otherwise, leave the coolers closed as much as possible.
5. Make sure you have what you'll need: flashlights, batteries, candles, matches, a battery-operated radio, car chargers for your phones, cash, a propane camp stove with propane, and a manual can opener. If you have well water, make sure you have plenty of bottled water on hand, as well. (We only lost power, not water, fortunately.) Also plenty of books and board games.

Most importantly, do your prep work ahead of time. Because I'd made all the stuff that could survive at room temperature (no-mayo coleslaw, ratatouille salad, tabbouleh, kale salad), we had plenty of good stuff to eat without resorting to crackers and canned peaches. We even had enough around for my husband to continue to brown-bag it to work.

As far as the garden was concerned, minimal losses there as well. Some of the tomato plants were largely flattened, and my zucchini plants look awfully mildewy and waterlogged; but I don't think I lost any actual tomatoes, and I'd moved all the herb containers inside.

No flooding or wind damage or major tree-limb losses, thankfully. I hope y'all can say the same!

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