Well, here we are, in Sparkling New England. And it’s nearly Halloween, which means…
…it must be time for a Natural Disaster!!!
Last year, we had the Great Halloween Blizzard of ’11. Click on the link for an absolutely spell-binding first-person description of What It Is Like To Be Lost During An Unexpected Blizzard. Then, gloat to yourself as you smugly think “At least I didn’t lose ten years off my life!!” Be alert for incidents of “*****” Those stand in for some of the most inventive and colorful profanity you may (or may not) have had the pleasure of witnessing (depending on whether you actually know me personally or not…this does not include my students, who have Never Had The Privilege, and won’t, because of, well, professionalism).
The Halloween Blizzard actually struck on October 29, 2011. A day that is burned into my memory. I swear to you, I can remember every single second of that afternoon and evening. Every one.
October 29 has the Distinction, not just of being an Anniversary of Natural Disasters of Epic Proportions, but of being my wedding anniversary. I remember just as well every single second of the evening of October 29, 2005: my wedding. I remember when the “bustle loop” ripped out of my custom-made wedding dress.
I remember that, and I remember how one of our guests left a frickin’ lipstick mark on my cheek that lasted for 20 minutes, and 3o photographs, before someone thoughtfully wiped it off. I remember what an absolute brick my buddy Liz Zelandais was in fielding all of that last-minute crap from the vendors and guests – Lizzie, as the nuns would say, you earned some Stars In Your Heavenly Crown that night. I remember that Roy was late to the party because he got enraptured with the sound of my singing voice floating upstairs. I remember my Hair Goddess, Carrie, fixing things when it was time to change my hairdo. I remember Susan and Margaret and Alex and Noah and Ilana and Dennis and Michael holding up the chuppah. I remember Roy’s best man, Theresa, standing by him when things got hairy. I remember David Dunn Bauer delivering a talk under that chuppah that brought me to tears. I remember Mark Kesselmann giving what was, perhaps, the Best Wedding Toast Ever. I remember our ketubah, with egalitarian language, getting signed by the rabbi, and Greg Goodman, and Lenny Shoenfeld. I remember getting the 7 blessings from Greg and Roxanne, Ellen and Catherine, Mark and Amrita, my mother, Roy’s mother, my sister Tami and Kate, Leda and Andy, and how Andy had to stoop down to reach the mike, and Gail and Lenny, and the sound of the glass under Roy’s foot, and the sound of the band, and Saul Gladstone hectoring our guests for failing to pay attention to instructions, and the way my stepson and his friend, and Roy’s friends, danced for us that night.
And I remember that five people were late and missed the ceremony because it was snowing in Boston that night.
As they say in Jewish law.. three times makes a hazakah. An action repeated three times can not be considered to be a a random occurrence but is, instead, an established behavior pattern, a manifestation of the very essence of reality.
I can’t tell you what a sobering thought this is. We’re in the third time right now. Hurricane Sandy, and the other two fronts, are predicted to come together to make the Storm of the Century (and let me tell you, this is a Bold Statement for New England) and they are predicted to do so on our anniversary.
We’re screwed, according to Jewish Law. What we can expect, until the End Of Days, is outbreaks of bizarre weather to “celebrate” our marital union.
So here we are, starting down the maw of Hurricane (or whatever they call it when the storm gets to New England) Sandy Plus Assorted And Miscellaneous Fronts.
This year, Roy had planned an Amazing Getaway. He’d booked us into some insanely romantic lodgings in Shenandoah National Park. He’d even, because is is awesome, booked me in for not one but two trail rides in the Incredible Splendour that is Shenandoah National Park. Because he knows how intensely, painfully, and immediately my longing to ride Huey The Wonder Horse is. I was going to get to go on almost four hours of Horseback Goodness in one of the most Stunningly and Beautiful Spots on God’s Green Earth.
That is, until Sandy. Plus Assorted Fronts.
NOW the inn we were staying at is cancelling stuff because they’re pretty sure they’re going to lose power and get buttloads of unexpected snow…on the same not-quite-defoliated-trees that we had buttloads of unexpected snow on last year when I lost ten years of my life in ONE night..
Now, the only good thing about that Halloween Blizzard is 1) ultimately we were up in Vermont, which did not, mercifully, lose power and we were able to come into the Dead Zone with a tank full of gas, and 2) we found that we are in fact on the same part of the power grid as the cop shop, because we were like the first people in town to get power back, and 3) this meant we were able to host other people who would otherwise have gone without the benefit of Central Heating and Hot Showers. And those of you who are in the least bit familiar with “roughing it” know that hot showers are, in fact, the Currency Of Civilization.
In this case, we were doubly fortunate, because the friends we hosted Had Connections. And “connections” in this case means “supply of live-hunted game by-products”.
I have to tell you, if I need to pick who I’m going to be friends with, and have a choice between “guy who knows all the best restaurants in New York City” and “guy who shoots game and has venison and elk sausages” it’s going to be the guy with the venison and elk sausages…every single time. I mean, Tripadvisor can go a long way towards the “knows all the best restaurants” but it requires a connection with a Generous Spirit AND a Hunting License to deliver the venison and elk. This meant, last year, that someone’s misfortune became a collective gain. Here’s how it happened:
New England Fall Storm Special
3 T butter (or margarine if you’re kosher, but yuk)
3 T (or more) honey (local is best)
about 4 C diced winter squash (whatever kind you have on hand…hubbard, acorn, butternut, delicata, pumpkin, it’s all good)
as much fresh thyme, stripped from the stem and chopped, as you can manage
salt and pepper
whatever ground-up game is needing to be used before it goes over
Brown the meat in a pan and remove to a dish. To that pan with the drippings, add the butter and honey and melt. Add the squash, thyme, and salt and pepper. Saute over medium heat for maybe 10 minutes until the squash is starting to be done. Add the browned ground meat. Cook until done. Inhale, because this dish is so unbelievably good you will THANK yourself that the power went out.
Now, here is the next awesome bit.
But before that, another picture from the Halloween Blizzard. I need to get out more, because I know this place is in my ‘hood, but I can’t think of where at the moment.
YUM! Five Star Award for Chili Recipes. Great cold-weather dish. Keeps will for several days in the refrigerator, and improves with age.
2 T olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
10-12 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 lb. ground whatever-it-is-that-needs-to-get-used-SOON
5 T medium-hot chili powder
1 T ground cumin
1 T dried basil
1 T dried oregano
1 T dried thyme
8 oz. can crushed or diced tomatoes with added puree
1 can chicken broth
12 oz. bottle dark beer
6 oz. can tomato paste
15 oz. can dark kidney beans
Heat oil in Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add onions and garlic, sauté until onions are translucent. Add beef and brown. Add chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, and thyme. Stir until fragrant. Mix in crushed tomatoes with puree, broth, beer, and tomato paste. Simmer on low heat until thickened, stirring occasionally, two hours. Add beans and simmer 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serves 8 to 10.