You know those days, the ones where you do seemingly nothing, and yet you walk away feeling so fulfilled? That was today. It was a snow day, sans the snow. I’m sure any of you watching the weather saw news of a Nor’easter. There was talk of snow, a lot of it, too. There was also talk that the air mass could change temperatures and directions, and maybe we’d just get rain. Well, it was the latter, but combined with below freezing temperatures, it made for icy, slick conditions this morning. The delayed start email came at 5:55am, and I was thankful for the extra couple of hours of sleep. Less than two hours later, a follow up email came that school was cancelled.
There were days in NYC that a foot of snow would fall, and school being open was more reliable than the mail delivery. Up here it’s a whole different story. I’ve never felt more vulnerable to the weather and my surroundings than when the forecast calls for a storm. My water comes from a well. If the reserve is low, and power goes out, no power, no pump…no water. I discovered that one the hard way this summer. Four days after we made the full time move up, we had a storm that knocked the power out. I’d just done laundry, and drained the well. It never even occurred to me. Now when I see a storm is brewing, I don’t go anywhere near the washing machine. And there’s a few gallons of water in the basement, just in case.
A few days after that first storm, we had another storm. You guessed it…the power went out again. This time we were leaving the next morning for Quebec City. I tucked the girls in, packed by candelight, and remembered I had some berries I’d been meaning to make into jam. Thankfully the stove is gas, and I was able to light the burners. Yes, I made jam by candelight. Obviously my priorities are in order, or they need to be completely reassessed.
I decided to embrace the storm this time. I prepared as much as possible.
C Batteries. Check. Oh wait, all the flashlights take D batteries. Note to self for next time.
As I began to cook dinner, I noticed the flame seemed weaker than normal. It’d been on my mind for a few days to call Bottini, the oil and propane company. I hadn’t seen a delivery come in months. I placed a call that I was concerned, especially with the storm coming. Within an hour two guys pulled up with the propane truck and remedied the situation. The tank was EMPTY. I didn’t think to call Bottini when I moved up here full time. I just figured the tank levels were monitored electronically. Now I know that there’s a gauge I can check the level (stop laughing—I’ve lived in apartments my entire life!). Same goes for the oil, which was at a 1/4 tank. A few more days, and we would’ve had no heat. A year ago, I would’ve beaten myself up, and felt foolish for such rookie mistakes. Last night, I just laughed them off, and looked at the silver lining that it got remedied so quickly (and effortlessly, too).
It’s funny how in Brooklyn a snow day felt like a curse. It took so much energy to go outside and play. Here, I can just open the back door and set the kids loose. My house is half the size of my old apartment, but I have something here in the country I didn’t have in the city. I have space, literally and figuratively, to feel freer than I’ve felt in a long time.
So, when school was indeed cancelled, I felt prepared to hunker down with our girls and enjoy the gift of a cozy day inside, complete with Christmas movies, cartoons, and gingerbread houses. Barely a fight, homework done with one whimper of protest, and the storm had prompted me to push up my Christmas shopping on Monday, so I feel a little ahead of the game, for now. It was uneventful, leisurely, and one of the most perfect days we’ve had in a long time. I’m keeping a close eye on tomorrow’s forecast. Part of me feels like we should go back to school on the high note, but I’m willing to take my chances that we can weather many more snow days to come.
Gingerbread Chess Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
If you read this month’s newsletter, then this recipe looks familiar. I first featured it there, and decided to put up here on the blog to add to the archives. There’s a few more gingerbready recipes to come before Christmas (here’s a sneak peek).
Music Pairing: The 59th Street Bridge Song by Simon & Garfunkel
One single piecrust (I use this recipe, and freeze the remaining half)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (250 grams) natural cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) fleur de sel
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon (12 grams) yellow cornmeal
Fresh whipped cream, to serve (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt the butter over medium heat in a small, heavy-bottomed pot. Cook until it begins to brown, but not burn; it will smell nutty and fragrant. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.
Gently press the piecrust into an ungreased 9-inch glass pie plate. Trim any overhang and crimp edges, using the back tines of a fork or gently pinching the crust with your fingertips. Place pie plate in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Pour the melted butter, scraping any browned bits, into a deep bowl. Add the sugar, salt, and spices, and whisk until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla. Whisk vigorously, until well mixed and it forms a thick batter. Stir in the cornmeal just until combined; pour into the prepared piecrust.
Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until the pie is set and the top puffs up and forms a hard crust. Cool completely (the pie will sink, and the top will flatten). Serve at room temperature with a dollop of whipped cream.