NOTE: I wrote this Monday, February 15 and we were without power until Wednesday at 4 p.m. While I got the hang of lighting candles, cooking in the fireplace and always carrying my “personal lighting device” as we referred to our his and hers super-charged LED lights, I can’t stand climbing into a cold bed. If you wondered, wearing layers of thermals and fleece and then putting on a thick robe will keep the cold sheets from sucking out your body’s heat! Layer, layer, LAYER!!!
We were awakened this morning, Monday, in the pre-dawn hours with the beeping of random household appliances, as they always do after a blip in electricity knocks them out and they get back up.
And almost immediately, there was silence. No familiar hum coming from the furnace closet. No sounds of the refrigerator’s compressor… background noises that are part of our normal gray noise at night. Uh-oh.
It was three degrees outside when our power went off. T H R E E. We have an indoor/outdoor weather station that has fresh batteries in it, so I also know that it was as low as 46 degrees inside our very old adobe house during the first power outage of the day.
While mustering the courage to leave the down comforter warmth of the bed to try to start the day in a normal-like manner, I mentally made coffee in the Aeropress with room temp water and old ground coffee, since that’s what I would have to work with. That didn’t sound appealing, but room temp was better then cold, and it would at least get us going for whatever our electricity-less day had in store for us.
And so I got up, put on several layers of clothing and went to the cold kitchen to make something like coffee. I normally grind our beans before every pot, so all I had on hand was coffee that had been ground months ago.
Thankful that the Aeropress makes coffee with any temperature of water, we drank our lukewarm (because that’s the best I could get from the non working electric hot and cold water dispenser, and I was grateful for that) and my husband promptly went outside to fire up the rocket stove to boil water for a new pot of coffee and to start our breakfast oatmeal.
For those of you that don’t know about the rocket stove, it’s an incredible invention that’s been around for many years and enables you to create cooking heat using twigs and sticks. It’s now ranked up at the top of my favorite things because today, the rocket stove saved the day.
Luckily, we have a manual coffee grinder – one that you fill with beans and crank to grind – perfect for camping trips. Or for when you’ve got nothing but time on your hands and you’re looking to build up your biceps. Be sure and switch arms while you’re grinding the beans manually. It took every bit of 30 minutes to manually grind enough beans for four cups of coffee.
Mr. Johns then cooked our breakfast oatmeal in a pot on the rocket stove (one cup oats, 2 cups water, pinch of salt, cover and cook – stir frequently until the water is absorbed), chopped wood and got the fireplace going. We have the cooking grate next to the fireplace, ready for the next meal we want to eat warm.
Camping in the house isn’t my favorite thing, but it’s also not the worst thing in the world. I’m almost getting used to wearing two or three layers of clothing, a coat and a knit hat indoors.
Later in the Day…
I’ve had a lot time today to try alternative methods for making coffee and tea, and have found that a fondue pot does much more than just melt cheese – you can also boil water with a fondue pot. Who knew?
Once I boiled water for hot cups of afternoon tea, I tried using a stovetop espresso maker (also known as a moka pot) on the fondue stand and burner and voila, espresso can be made in just a few minutes – no electricity or wood, or going outside in the cold required.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johns reheated soup that I made yesterday and grilled a frozen steak – in the fireplace. Camping in the house isn’t so bad after all, at least we are sleeping in our own beds and have our own bathrooms.
The power came on for roughly 30 minutes today. That was long enough to send a few emails, print a couple of things I needed for business, and type a quick status update on social media about our power outage and subsequent lack of communication and then POOF. My computer shut off and there was no more power on Monday.
I am tapping out this column with both thumbs on my cell phone, with no cell service. But the moment service resumes, I plan to send it to my dear editor Gail and she can flex her editor’s muscles because I have no clue how many words I’ve typed.
I have no idea what the electronic status of the newspaper’s production is at this time, or if I will even have cell service to send this. I will just pretend that it’s a normal day with a normal deadline that I would normally meet.
I apologize in advance for not having a recipe to share, but I think we can all relate to what we experienced in the Johns’ home as of late.
My best advice this week is to have some sort of cooking appliance that doesn’t require electricity because you never know when you’ll need to be able to cook or reheat food – or even just boil water – without electricity.
A barbecue pit and lots of wood, a gas grill with ample propane, a fondue set with a bottle of denatured alcohol or some cans of Sterno, a rocket stove with assorted twigs and sticks or a good old fashioned fireplace will do the job. Also, make sure you have lots of candles and a way to light them – and never leave them unattended. Have your flashlights ready, but maybe keep the batteries out and separate so they don’t corrode and render your flashlight useless.
I hope everyone stayed warm and well during this crazy week of weather.