“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
Jack Frost had his 15 minutes of fame this Christmas. 2013 will go down as one of the worst ice storms to hit Ontario. Like many significant events it started inauspiciously. Have you ever noticed that the things you worry about rarely come to fruition? It’s those strange, out of the blue occurrences that hit you like a ton of bricks. It all started with the sound of snow shovels at midnight and a flickering of the lights. In a matter of hours we went from mundane normalcy to uprooting everyone to keep from freezing in sub-zero temperatures. With no gas or wood burning fire staying at home with a 22 month old was not fathomable.
Our holiday food went bad – our plans fell flat. This storm was a b!tch but it forced us to think about just how unprepared we actually were. In my great, great grandmother’s era a storm like this would not have packed such a wallop. Why? Because they were better prepared: wood and coal burning fireplaces, preserved foods and a lack of dependence on the grid empowered them to help themselves. Climate change and increasingly lethal storms make it SO important for us to reassess our readiness for events like this. Hand crank radios and flash lights, bottled water, sleeping bags, nonperishable food items and most importantly a plan to connect with your own personal grid – family, friends and neighbours. The only grid that you really can depend on at the end of the day. This will not be the last time something like this happens. It should serve as a wake up call to each and everyone of us. Preparedness is key – especially if you have dependents. Bug out bags are not just for survivalists.
Ahahaha the look on Jack’s face is classic. He is over it! The holidays are about so much more than the tinsel, trimmings, gift giving and feasting. Our time together this Christmas was stressful – but we connected in ways we might not have if the power stayed on. When our neighbours called with the news that power had been restored – we greeted the them with a resounding cheer! Every morning since the blackout I marvel at the luxury of a warm house, the sweet joy of my morning coffee and the amazing abilities of the internet….Now to figure out how we can make a difference with our power consumption. The sustainability of our lifestyle and getting off the grid has taken on new meaning.
All in all, this Christmas was most certainly different for us – but it emphasized the importance of the simple things we take for granted daily. A warm room, fresh clean water to drink, the occasional glass of wine, healthy food and most importantly friends and family. We are ever so thankful to our family for helping us manage 72 hours of lights out – and of course to the men and women at Toronto Hydro (and those who made the trip to assist) who gave up their holiday celebrations to make sure that the majority of Toronto had lights and heat before Christmas Day. As I write this one week later 6,000! Torontonians are still without power. We send out heartfelt well wishes to them.
May 2014 bring each and every one of you a newly restored connection to your personal grid!
Now back to the food! We planned to have an unorthodox dinner on Christmas Day as my sister-in-law was preparing a traditional turkey on Christmas Eve. Little did we know just how unorthodox our meals would be. After days of eating greasy take away, store bought cookies and – cringe – sour cream and onion potato chips – and my dirty little secret – radioactive Doritos (hey you take what you can get)! Our holiday climaxed with some glow in the dark sweet and sour pork from the only place open in our neighbourhood 😉 SO I will share with you the planned dinner! Back to homemade fare.
Barbequed Ribs en Papillote
2 sides of pork ribs
Barbeque sauce of choice (everyone has there own idea of what they like!)
This recipe is the result of running out of tin foil! Now it is the only way I make oven cooked ribs. They turn out perfect – moist and tender – every single time. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place the ribs on an oven broiler tray. Baste them liberally with your sauce of choice. My family likes tomato ketchup spiked with vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup, molasses and red pepper flakes which I cook until thick. Enclose the removable top portion of the tray with parchment paper, using the edge of the tray to seal it. Cook for just over 2 hours. My oven is completely out of whack so this can fluctuate by 30 mins in our house. You do not have to take off the parchment paper to test for readiness – just push your finger into the meat towards the thickest section. If it feels tender the ribs are done. Let stand for 10 minutes after you remove them from the oven. Then baste with additional sauce before serving.
We like to serve the ribs with homemade coleslaw and Dill Fingerling Potato Salad. These recipes will be forthcoming when the weather warms up a bit.