Pork 'n Beans
Creamed Chicken with Rice
Propane Stove Stew
"Why is there a blender in the middle of your kitchen floor plugged into an extension cord? Were you making soup in a blackout again?" ~The Blackout Chef, Wade.
Wade's Words of Wisdom. Blackout Edition
by Wade M. Nulton on Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 6:33pm
“It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness” Truer words have never been spoken.
My ordeal with Hurricane Sandy started at exactly nine pm on Monday when the storm hit. It ended ten days later. I knew it was going to be bad because I was watching the weather all evening. I knew that we wouldn’t have a significant “water event” but I was prepared for it all. In case of flooding, I have three sump pumps, and a gasoline powered water pump, a generator to keep it all working, and I had a fifteen gallon reserve of gasoline. I was set. I had a chainsaw ready and fueled in case a wind event brought trees down. The usual format of WWOW was always nine funny points, and one serious. That ain’t gonna happen here. Too much info to relay to people so for the first time in history, that format will be broken. There also won’t be as much humor as usual. I took notes during the storm and resulting aftermath and there are points I want to cover.
1. Know your equipment. Know your generator, how to use it and how much run time there is to a tank of gas. With that in mind you can prepare to have the right amount of gas on hand. In my case, having fifteen gallons on hand was not enough for the whole event, but it was enough to keep me from sitting in gas lines for hours on end.
2. This one might be slightly controversial, but bear with me here as I reason it out. Do not brag about what you have stored and ready to go. I don’t care if it’s food, water, gasoline or anything else. Keep it low key. The reason being, is that if YOU are prepared, but someone you know is NOT they will remember what you have stored and EXPECT you to share it with them. If you choose to help someone out with your supplies, that is your choice, but under no circumstances should you share supplies if it will affect you and your family. On the flip side, if you DO have ample supplies, and CAN spare some, by all means do so. That is the compassion that makes us human. But if someone asks how much gas you have for your generator, there is nothing wrong with telling them “I have enough to keep my house running and warm. If you find some extra gas cans, I’d be happy to take them with me when I go to fill mine.”
3. Have easily preparable food on hand for the initial onset of the incident. For example, the first day of having no power, making a quick pot of spaghetti will free you up to do more important things. If you want to eat like a king that’s great, but keep simple things on hand.
4. I’m probably going to harp on this one for a while, but KEEP A POSITIVE ATTITUDE. Yes, it IS POSSIBLE to say to yourself I WILL keep a good attitude and I will NOT let this get me down. Once your needs are taken care of, start checking with other people to see if their needs are satisfied. Go help them. It helps keep your attitude positive and gives you a good feeling when you can help out, and quite often, your calm, positive attitude will be contagious. You have to say to yourself “Yeah, I got this covered” and smile and take care of business. During this event, I came across two people who were in various stages of panic. One person had no generator or anything in place for preparation and the other had a generator capable of running his entire house, but was woefully unprepared in the gasoline department. Both were in a panic and it was evidenced by their voices. People can over react drastically, and your calmness can help keeping stupid things from happening. (Like the one person transporting almost 200 gallons of gasoline in one giant tank in the back of a pickup and almost getting arrested for improperly transporting gasoline.)
5. Back to attitude: A negative attitude is TOXIC, contagious and dangerous. The only one who will help you in a severe situation is YOU, so get off your ASS and DO something about it! Sitting around saying “Oh woe is me”…. does nothing to help you. If you were caught in a flash flood, would you just float down the river and complain about how miserable your life has become or would you try to swim to dry land? DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. But don’t sit there and pity yourself.
6. There are three things that are key: Attitude, Mindset and Morale. With the proper Attitude towards the situation, you can keep the proper Mindset towards the situation to keep moving forward and make your situation which in turn will keep Morale up, in you and the people surrounding you. When you approach it this way it will help you keep a sense of normalcy. Me personally, I would get up every morning, Make my coffee, check the weather and go about my day. A loss of power wasn’t going to make me sit on the couch and do nothing. I personally think that in an adverse situation it is the loss of “normalcy” that screws people up the most. Adapt, make the most out of it. Heck, make it a FUN event by picking something and doing it even better than usual. In my case it was cooking that kept me sane. Bake a loaf of bread on the asphalt in your driveway:? SURE. I got it covered! (I didn’t however KEEP it covered when it was cooling off on the rack on the counter, and the dog wanted a snack, but that’s a different situation entirely.)
7. In a blackout condition, if you have a generator, gasoline is like gold. Think “Mad Max” and you start to get the picture. I heard all sorts of stories about people stealing gas cans from other people, even stealing generators. I saw gas lines almost two miles long. I developed a rhythm. Get up, start generator, make coffee, let house warm up and fridge cool down. Shut generator off to conserve fuel. A house will hold heat surprisingly well for many hours and you don’t need it 68 degrees 24 hours a day. You do NOT need to run your generator 24 hours a day unless it is keeping your sump pumps working.
8. Electricity is a modern convenience, and it is NOT necessary for survival. I repeat it is a Convenience. Humans have existed on this planet for thousands of years and it is only in the last hundred or so that we have had electricity. Did all those humans live in a state of panic until electricity was invented? I don’t think so.
9. Prioritize your actions. If you have one gallon of gasoline left for your generator and you have been hearing reports of gas stations with long lines, the sticks that are lying in your yard can wait. Really…. They CAN wait.
10. If you are using a (homemade) double male adapter to backfeed circuits in your house (which is not exactly UL approved…) be aware that the male end (with the two prongs sticking OUT) that is plugged into the cord… DOES have power in it and you WILL get a nifty little shock from it.
11. Certain people, very well intentioned, will call you once a day to check on you. It will be nice at first that they are concerned about your well being, but when you have things to get done before it gets dark…. It gets to be annoying. You don’t need to call EVERY day. Really you don’t.
12. On the flip side…. When you are stuck in an adverse situation, there are certain special people, who when they DO reach out to you, will make your day, put a smile on your face, and give you the mental power to take on any and every situation. (And even give you something to look forward to.)
"Sandy update. Power out for 24 hr. now. No big deal. Have generator to keep fridge cool and furnace warm. Sincere thank you to all who checked in via text from as far away as Mass. This is short message typed on an old fashioned flip phone." October 29, 2012
"Four days into the blackout and beef burgundy for dinner. From scratch thank you. Yeah. It's all good." November 1, 2012
"The blackout gourmet proudly presents for tonight's dinner: (dutch oven baked) herbed lemon chicken with a side of yellow rice and bacon balsamic green beans. There ain't no suffering going on at this house." November 2, 2012
"Hopefully by the grace of god this is the last installment of the blackout chef. On tonight's menu is a new twist on an ancient recipe and I call it Jersey Jumbalbya. It is made with ingredients commonly available in freezers during blackout situations. Ingredients include hot Italian sausage, pork, and chicken, with rice and assorted seasonings. Anyone desiring any of the blackout chef's recipes can arrange a barter method of payment." November 4, 2012
"The blackout chef has decided since it is a chilly night, to prepare an old favorite - Wisconsin cheddar, potato and bacon soup. Perfect for a chilly evening. The chef has also decided that upon restoration of power, he will write a cook book, containing as many recipes as nights he cooked without power. The book will contain helpful hints about things to make blackout cooking easier and things to prepare in advance. Cookbooks will be available at a minimal ten dollars each to help offset the cost of researching the book. (running the generator for over a week) and yes. I really will write a cook book." November 7, 2012
"Now that I have power back, does this mean I can't use the blender in the middle of the kitchen floor?" November 9, 2012
Wade is my very special nephew. Oh, so young (38) and so wise. He has given me permission to share his writings. GMR