Musing with Max

Musing with Max

August 30, 2011

Waiting for Irene

Growing up in Florida, specifically Miami, hurricanes were the norm. Well actually, the threat of hurricanes were the norm because all the years I lived there I remember one touching down and making a left at the last minute which spared us the brunt of it. His name was David. I remember taping all the windows with big X's; something I never understood very well. Are hurricanes scared of tape? Are the X's signs for them to keep out that they actually heed? Whatever, all I know is we taped and taped and taped. We also brought in every single solitary plant and piece of furniture that could go flying and become a lethal weapon (apparently the X's didn't scare them), which meant an amazing array of stuff. My Mom's house had a back terrace and a side terrace and my Mom and Aunt were avid gardeners so in addition to what was planted in the ground there were pots of all shapes and sizes everywhere and hanging plants in every conceivable nook and cranny. The patio furniture consisted of white wrought iron tables (yes, tables) and chairs and couches and such. By the time we got all this stuff in the house we could barely walk, add to that 4 adults, a big giant Irish Setter and a nasty cat and it's no wonder that I passed out on my bed; head next to a very taped window, and slept through the whole thing only to spend the most of the next day moving everything out again and removing that damned tape from all the windows. I'm sure during my tenure we had plenty of tropical storms but once I left; well several years later, they finally got hit with the big one. Andrew. Andrew was a devastating category 5 and after so many years of hurricane threats and no actual hits the residents weren't very well prepared so damage was huge and also included extended power outages, food and water shortages, etc. For a little while there Miami became a third world country and the fear was instilled in it's citizenry. They became hurricane experts. Most of them installed state of the art shutters, none of that sissy taping crap, and have every single piece of equipment needed to survive any size storm and the minute that hurricane season opens they pull out the tracking maps so they can be at the ready. I live in the Northeast, we don't have hurricanes, we have nor'easters so when we were threatened with the full force of Irene headed right for us I had to think back to my Miami days for preparation. We bought lots of water, made sure our flashlights had batteries and we had lots of candles. Took all the porch and patio furniture into the garage and brought in the hanging plants which could function as heat seeking missiles in 85 mph winds. My brother called to make sure we had all the necessities: battery powered radio, no; battery powered lamps, no; indoor grill, no; shutters, (what?) no. No mention of the tape thank goodness. I could just see him shaking his head; we were headed for trouble. My thoughts of course turned to one thing. Food. First of all what was going to happen to my herb garden with all that wind and rain? The thought of it being destroyed was horrifying,
so I had to bring it in

and make lots of pesto

which I make in a food processor: drop two or three cloves of garlic in the feeding tube while the machine is running to chop, stop the machine and add about two cups of basil leaves, 1/4 cup of pine nuts, or walnuts, 1/4 cup of olive oil, a pinch of salt and process until a paste forms, stir in a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese. If you are going to freeze it, leave out the Parmesan until you are ready to serve it.
Then the cooking bug really hit me cause I had to get rid of all this nervous energy and kooky anticipation, so I hit the tomatoes and sliced them very thick
 and tossed them with some olive oil, salt, chunks of garlic and the aforementioned herbs...thyme & basil in this case

and roasted them in a 300F oven for an hour and a half

and then put them away for future use.
I decided we needed dessert- Chocolate Mousse should do it

Rum Chocolate Mousse- adapted from The Joy of Cooking


  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) sugar
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) rum (can double this amount)
  • 1/4 lb (.1 kg). semi-sweet or sweet chocolate
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) whipping cream
  • 2 stiffly beaten egg whites
  • 2 cups (475 ml) whipped cream
  • Cook sugar and rum over very low heat until dissolved but not colored brown.
  • Melt chocolate in double boiler.
  • When chocolate is melted stir in 2 tbsp (30 ml) whipping cream.
  • Add sugar and rum mixture and stir until smooth.
  • When the mixture is cool but not chilled, fold in egg whites.
  • Fold the combination very gently into 2 cups (475 ml) whipped cream.
  • Chill in sherbet glasses at least 2 hours before serving.
Prepared a Zuni roast chicken for dinner along with tarragon mashed potatoes

figuring if we lose power,we can have cold chicken tomorrow, right? Along with a whole bunch of other eclectic stuff. The rain started in the early evening and just intensified and intensified, the wind pretty much stayed in check. The power stayed on; we had our lovely dinner watched some TV and went to bed at 2:30 am listening to the rain pounding away. Woke up the next day around 9:00 am to a light rain and sun sneaking through the clouds and this face
sort of saying "hurricane or no hurricane, I've got to go!"

but wait a minute what's that, since when do we have a lake in the back yard
and why is there water in the basement. Not good.

And then the phone started ringing and the neighbors started showing up and the rain stopped and the sun came out and we didn't feel so crappy anymore, and the herb garden survived. No too bad.

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