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Cooking in the NE during power outages

I got lucky, my power was out for a mere six hours on sat. I have a gas stove so I fried up some leftover shephard's pie from Smoke Daddy for lunch. Fried pie is always good when the temperature inside your house is dropping fast. For dinner I just happened to have a big pot of homemade chicken veggie soup in the fridge so we just heated that. /hugs gas stove. I kept warm by heating up water for tea in a pot on the stove. CP was out from sat thru monday am and is thankful for his wood burning stove: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/813321
Some folks were able to get out on sunday, the R and S Keystone was hit hard sunday morning by cold people desperate for a hot cup of coffee. I went there for an early dinner and a lot of the patrons were commenting that they still had no electricity. So how did my fellow philly area hounds fare with their fare? It was surreal driving to the 24 hour Walmart in hilltown late saturday night to buy an emergency fish tank heater and seeing four traffic lights out on 309. Hope everyone stayed safe, warm and well-fed.

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  1. We certainly fared better than the Lehigh Valley. The news just reported that most businesses along 309 are still closed, as are most schools and Lehigh U. Predictions are for a Thursday restoration of electric.

    1. We lived in Colorado, and were subject to blizzards, that often cut power, but not always, as many lines were buried. We also camped often, so had Coleman stoves (and lanterns) handy, plus the gas to run them.

      When things shut down, we'd head to the camping gear, and set up the Coleman dual-burner, and just keep cooking.

      In AZ, we have not needed to use the Colemans, but still have them handy.

      With a bit of practice, we can do a 4-course meal on the Coleman, and if wife wishes to dig out the Dutch oven, maybe even a 6-course, all on a white-gas stove.


      1 Reply
      1. re: Bill Hunt

        Hunt, just want to comment that I believe Coleman warns against using such stoves and lanterns indoors due to danger of release of CO2. Probably best to take the cooking to the back porch or some such (which I have done in power outages). BTW, the Coleman website has some good tips on how to deal with power outages...and (who knew?) you can buy a Coleman fuel powered hot water heater! I need one of those for next camping season! :-)

      2. I live in Minnesota and the last time we were without power for longer than a few minutes was 23 years ago. It was about thirty degrees below zero that night and we had a very young baby and a big hairy dog. Brilliant idea: Put the two together! The four of us (hubby, wifey, baby, hairy dog) slept together that night. Cheers to the power companies that keep things going around here!

        Twenty years ago tonight we took our son trick-or-treating in pretty much a blizzard - it was deep enough that we struggled to walk through the snow.

        Ah, winter. Hopefully you Northeast folks aren't just getting a preview of what's to come!

        Good luck all...may winter begin....

        1. Oh, and that Halloween twenty years ago....the kid got to ride on a sled with his plastic pumpkin full of candy!!!!

          1. You are right about the desperation for something, anything, hot. I realize that our 22-hour outage in a high-rise condo once when a transformer blew up was small potatoes compared with the weeks-long outages some suburbanites have suffered, but, still. I have now bought a tiny STERNO stove that I can set up on the balcony and at least make tea or instant soup.

            1. I am in PA and freaked out about the pending loss of power. I put two pork roasts in the oven early in the morning for pork sandwiches, pre-cooked some pasta that I could finish in the fireplace with sauce and meat and made muffins for the next day's breakfast.

              After all of this, the power flickered once and I was so sick of cooking, we went out to eat. At least the freezer is well stocked!

              1. I guess I'd be screwed if I lost power for as long as some people I know have....what do others with an electric stove and no outdoor space for a grill/fireplace do besides eat out/get takeout/eat sandwiches?

                Then again, I eat out/get takeout/eat sandwiches a fair amount, so maybe I wouldn't even notice?

                3 Replies
                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I keep a few cans of sterno on hand, and always buy stuff to make s'mores when the weather threatens for cold weather power outages. The sterno also works for heating canned soup, toasting bread, and hotdogs.

                  1. re: mpjmph

                    (Dumb question ahead): Can you use that indoors?

                    1. re: LeoLioness

                      Sterno, yes you can use it indoors. It's the same thing that is used on buffets to heat chafing dishes. It does not get very hot, though, so there is little you can do to actually cook with it unless you have thin camping dishes (other than boiling... it does a pretty good job of boiling water). Its best purpose is keeping cooked food warm.

                2. tho I have a grill and sideburner, can't do much cooking, as water is at premium, and washing for pans, dishes, etc, takes a backseat to washing and slaking me. After the tub gets emptied (filled it in advance, didntcha?) and 40lbs per 5 gals of water hauled from work, just can't spare the aqua. Besides, can't really see to cook. Lotsa sandwiches and prep'd food. On the upside, I've got the cleanest freezer around

                  1. Our gas stove still works when the power goes out. But on the rare occasion when the gas gets shut off, we use single butane burners, and its usually nabe or shabu shabu.

                    1. No outage here, but we had dry wood ready for the fireplace, and charcoal for the grill.
                      Thankfully, the lights (and heat) stayed on. During the last storm, I tried to cook baked apples in the fireplace. Let's just say it didn't go well.

                      It was fun trick-or-treating in the snow. No arguments from little goblins this year about wearing a jacket!

                      1. I live in the Midwest where our nightmare is an ice storm. Two winters ago, power was out to some for almost a month.

                        Many years ago when I bought this house, I needed to either convert to fireplace, or keep the cast iron wood-burning stove... I kept the stove and fixed it for practical reasons (not for interior decorating, that's for sure). So even without being in dire straits, we cook on (soup for example) and even bake in (baked potatoes, for example) the stove. We have a generator specifically for our well-stocked freezers, but don't usually use it to do any cooking. We have an all-electric kitchen. :-(

                        We also have outdoor grills (charcoal and propane, both) and a firepit that I cook over with my cast iron cookware, so that might be an option for some. If all else fails and I didn't have any of those options, I would have a propane camp stove that I could use either on a small balcony or near an open window (you need to vent it to be safe). I would absolutely not be in a situation where I couldn't at least make a stovetop meal. We camp a lot, so have a good supply of primitive cooking gear, which I would hope everyone who might be without power would think ahead about. I wish those in the NE best of luck as they muddle through this tough time. Old man winter is here, folks!! ...she says as she goes outside to nearly 70 degree weather to take down Halloween decorations. ;)

                        1. Our power's been out since Sat night...luckily I have town water, so plenty of (cold) water, and also luckily I have a fireplace. I have a whole new appreciation for the 18th century. First night, I cooked steaks in a big ol cast iron frying pan over the fire. Next night...leftover mac & cheese, with leftover steak bits, leftover chicken and gravy, and a can of chopped tomatoes for liquid. I just couldn't face cooking everything in seperate pans. It was actually way better than it sounds. Coffee was easy: broke out the camping equipment, but heating enough water on the fire to wash dishes is a drag. We're having sensory withdrawl, since no tv, no radio, no internet, and I've been reading aloud.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Altaira

                            I'm impressed Altaira. We were lucky and only without power for a few hrs. but my cousin and quite a few others here in Central Pa are still without. Most that I know have headed to stay with family or are at least eating out for all their meals! Best of luck, and I hope the power comes back soon!

                          2. Times like that are when I am grateful for a gas stove in my kitchen (that works just fine when the power is off...). Admittedly not too many outtages here in Vegas, but in my other home of Reno they are fairly common. I still remember the big New Year's Day storm some years ago....DH was, well, just a little hungover, as were most of the neighbors who had joined him for some impromptu celebrations involving excessive champagne the night before.....we had an old percolator that we use for camping. I was suddenly the most popular person on the block when I was able to find it among the gear, clean it up, and get it to do its thing on our stove. I ended up cooking pancakes and coffee for a crowd.....and someone was kind enough to bring over a champagne bottle that had somehow been passed over the night before....

                            1. Our house in CT was built in 1804. (Many additions later). There are 5 fireplaces including one with side ovens and hook and spit (keeps us warm and fed). We have a generator for the main refrigerator and freezer and some of the lights. This storm only had us out 9 hours, Unlike Irene where we were out 6 days.

                              We use the gas grill on the patio year round, even in the dead of winter, so the snow was no big deal. The downed trees will be cut up for firewood and stacked to age. Right now we're using wood from treese that fell in an ice storm January 2009.

                              1. we are also in CT, been out since Saturday night, and not expecting power to be restored for five more days. the generator powers our fridge and microwave, but because of the local shortage of gas we haven't been running it continously. we were out of the country right before the storm and didn't have time to lay in provisions. we have a gas grill, so we've been eating grilled chicken, canned soup, microwaved potatoes, and lots of leftover Halloween candy. the closest supermarket that's open is over the border in MA. we are not starving by any means but i've been getting odd cravings for the things i can't cook right now (i would KILL for a giant bowl of spaghetti!). really, we are better off than other folks in the area--there are no trees lying on top of our house--so i am grateful for what we have. but as soon as the power comes back on i am going to COOK.

                                1. It was out for 107 hours here in my part of the Merrimack Valley, north of Boston. Electric heat, no fireplace. I became a living altar, swathed in blankets and flanked by 8 candles in a 50-degree house. The fairly full fridge remained shut the entire time, and the only thing I lost was cream that would have been spoiled by now anyway. Freezer contents were totally-to-semi frozen so will be okay, a few textural issues notwithstanding. At the instant the power failed, I had just filled a casserole dish with home-made mac&cheese that I wanted to bake. Without velveeta or evap milk on hand, I'd used a roux so the floured sauce would have benefitted from some oven time. As it was, I covered it and kept it on the porch, reheating portions as needed. A camp stove is buried in the dark garage somewhere, so I improvised. I had a 28 ounce tomato can in the recycling bin. I put votives and stubs of tapers into it and a metal cake cooling rack atop it. Leaving a covered dish, or opened, de-labeled can of soup on it for an hour or so warmed it up rather nicely. Outdoor temps were in the 40's and 50's. Danger zone for some foods, but just cool enough for the casserole (which got way colder overnights) to survive. I supplemented with carrot sticks and a few other things from a supermarket run. Didn't have coffee for 4 days, which is tough even for a decaf-drinker like me. I didn't want to leave the house for long since I felt it unsafe to leave with candles lit, and without them the house got colder (as did my dog, despite her winter duds), so I was unwilling to go out for meals. Also, I wanted to be there when power returned, so I could eyeball and sniff fridge contents before they chilled again.