Nov 1, 201211:05 AMFood & Dining
Tasty Tidbits and Food For Thought
This week we were beseiged by Hurricane Sandy. For days, the media bombarded us with stern warnings about power losses lasting from 2-10 days, flooding and Armageddon-like conditions.
We were told to stock-pile batteries, water, canned goods. As the weekend wore on, bread and milk flew off grocery store shelves, to be restocked and depleted again.
Saturday evening before the storm, I got to thinking ~ if the predictions were true, and we were without power for days and if I had to subsist for an extended period of time on one simple recipe ~ what would I choose? What recipe would provide basic substinence as well as be practical? What would make me feel satisfied, body and soul, and be easily warmed on a camp stove? And what would I not mind eating over and over again?
As I went shopping, for groceries, child-like desires, fueled by the unknown upcoming conditions, guided me. I grabbed pretzels, peanut butter, salt-and-pepper chips along with bottled water and batteries.
But as a storm survival dish, for me, Chicken Pot pie fit the bill. Not the pie-crust, prim and proper baked version, but the thick noodle, Pennsylvania Dutch stew-version, packed with enough carbs to fuel you to work a long day on the farm or shovel snow. For me, it was the ultimate practical comfort food.
Simple foods fill us with a sense of security, safety and comfort during stressful times. The smell, taste, feeling and memories we get when eating such foods all contribute to this perception.
What that particular dish is for every person may vary. For me, it is Chicken Pot pie. For my husband, perhaps it would have been pork ribs or a flank steak. At times like these, fancy gourmet foods such as Cobb Salad, sushi, or Fois Gras seem superficial.
Sunday night came and I roasted a chicken and rolled the noodles. As I sauteed the onions, carrots, garlic and celery in the pot, the fumes infused the house with a wonderful smell, and the sizzling briefly drowned out the news. The house smelled wonderful and stirring the vegetables was soothing. I finished the giant dish around 9 pm, too late and too tired to have a bite, I packed the thick soup into the fridge, readying plastic containers that could easily be stowed in our ice filled cooler if the power went out.
Monday rolled in, and businesses and schools closed in advance of the storm. I had to work, but I was able to make it home around 5. Not long after that the power went out and we were mentally prepared for the worst. We put our perishables in the cooler and made other preparations for our long ordeal.
Shortly thereafter the neighbors called and asked us to visit. We drove the short distance over to their house and plodded into their family room in the dark, guided by our flashlights. For a little over an hour, we sat around their propane lantern, hanging out, enjoying drinks, entertained only by each other’s company. We were uninterrupted by media, except for the occasional text from a family member.
We shared some good laughs and conversation until the power unexpectedly came back on at about 9:00 p.m., along with the blare of the TV and other electronics. I breathed a huge sigh of relief tinged with tiny bit of disappointment because I knew the brief respite from deadlines, work and daily responsibility would soon be over.
But as the news and video of New York and New Jersey poured in, I felt grateful that all my relatives were safe and that our area was spared the devastation of our neighboring states.
On Tuesday school was closed but the power as still on. It looked like I would not need to eat Pot Pie for the next week. It had served its purpose at a stressful time. I still had about 5 large containers in the cooler and I made a note to myself not to wait until the next hurricane to make it again.
And I pledged that I would try to set aside media and electronic free time sometime soon.
As I grabbed a container for the neighbors, I hoped they would like it as much as I do.
And alot of it!
PENNSYLVANIA DUTCH POT PIE
Pot Pie Noodles:
5 cups of flour
2 cups of water
1 tsp of salt.
- Put flour and salt in bowl and make a well.
- Gradually add water and stir.
- Gently knead until the dough comes together.
- Separate in pieces and roll each out into a large rectangle, about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
- Dust with flour. Cut noodles, into rectangles, about 1" by 3" or to preferred size with cookie cutter.
- Add to pot pie, when broth is boiling hot, so as to thoroughly cook the noodles.
- Roast or Boil one chicken. Cool, clean meat from carcass. Set aside.
- Chop and saute in pan, three stalks of celery, with leaves, two medium onions, and three carrots, cut into chunky slices.
- Saute in olive oil until softened.
- Add several chopped garlic cloves.
- Add one large can of chicken broth. Simmer, add chicken.
- Add water if needed, to make room for noodles.
- Add salt, pepper, and additional chicken broth to taste.
- Raise temperature to boil and add noodles.
- After noodles are cooked, add a quarter cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of cornstarch if needed, to thicken.
- Stir till thick and serve.