by Jennifer Laskey VerPlanck
It’s not a question of if, but when, most of us will be inconvenienced by a Nor’easter this winter. Mainers are a tough and resilient lot so we know what to do by now. First things first, are heat and light, after all we do live on the fringe of society here, losing electricity during even minor storms. Outlying areas find neighbors sharing generators, candles and oil lamps along with the comfort that a good neighbor brings. Any Mainer worth their salt has a stocked pantry for situations like this.
I actually enjoy being snowbound, when it’s blowing a gale and the snow drifts pile high. Once the essentials are taken care of, things slow down, you thaw out and it’s time to treat yourself to some decadent comfort foods, maybe break out the port and enjoy the relative silence.
Eating by candle light, fun, cooking by candle light, still fun. Running out of candles before you’re done, not fun at all! So quick and easy is how we do it. Anything that you can cook on the stovetop or fireplace like macaroni and cheese, omelets, soup or chowder, grilled sandwiches, stir fry, chili or if you’re one of the year round outside grillers, brave the bracing temperature and throw some meat on the grill. You’ll be the most popular person on your block if you provide for a few guests when they smell that smoky meat in the breeze. Keeping some extra beers in stock is practically a law in Maine so that goes without saying.
If you want to put aside a few wine standbys, include a Tawny Port (great with chocolate), Sherry, Pinot Noir, Riesling, French Sauvignon Blanc, dry Cabernet and any Northern Italian red, like Barbera or Dolcetto. The reason for these choices is that they all can be both enjoyed on their own, with multiple dishes as well as included in the dishes themselves. Wine with both flavor and acidity, without overwhelming a dish, is ideal. Cooking with a little wine adds depth and will mellow flavors when it’s added to sauces, stews and braises. Wine is a great meat tenderizer, too. The longer that wine is heated, the less alcoholic it is.
Cue the sweaters, heavy socks and hot chocolate. Warm mulled cider or mulled wine are great, too. Snuggling next to the heat while it’s too stormy to go anywhere, you won’t mind one bit as long as you’re prepared for it.
Photo credits: Pixabay, Public Domain