Posts Tagged ‘snow’

the good samaritan lives here

When people ask me what living in Iowa was like, this is one of the stories I will tell.

One night, in very early February, a blustery, freezing cold blizzard tore through Iowa City, grabbing up great handfuls of falling snow and flinging them into feet-high drifts, pushing through door screens and clogging tree branches. It was the most snow we’d ever had. The next morning, Boyfriend put a coat over his fleece and a hat over his earmuffs and went out to clear the long driveway. It was supposed to drop into the negative teens that night, and he worried about the snow freezing solid. He worked and worked, drilling down through the waist-high snow drift and tunneling ten feet towards the street. But after all this, not even half the driveway was clear. So he went back inside for a break.

While we were frying some bacon, we heard a great roar outside our kitchen window and rushed to investigate. Our next door neighbor, whom we have never met, had trundled his snow blower to our garage was steadily pacing up and down our driveway, clearing a path. Unasked and unannounced. We were amazed and so, so relieved! And delighted! Once he finished our side, he cleared the duplex neighbors’ half of the driveway . . . and then continued, house to house, clearing the entire cul-de-sac’s driveways, and some of the street to boot. Conclusion: I usually try to avoid blanketing entire geographical regions with a single personality trait. But in this case I’m allowing an exception. It’s true, I do not know where else this would have happened, and I say, Oh, Iowa!

groundhog blizzard

If I talked to you in the last two days, chances are I used the phrase “not that bad” regarding the snow. I was skeptical and unimpressed. The snow was falling fast, but the flakes were so tiny, and since the wind didn’t start until last night I honestly did not believe the hype.

I would like to take it all back.

To say that we are snowed in would be a gross undersell. We are “snowed in,” if that means that the wind has compacted snow into the door screens, so they now weigh twice as much as usual. We are “snowed in,” in that the snow is a foot high against our wooden doors and they only open with a colossal heave-ho.

Here, what used to be our front porch steps.

Here, the inner back door, somehow also studded with snowflakes.

Luckily, we still have heat, electricity, hot water, and a full fridge. (We also have a broken snow shovel. But it’s okay, we’ll just pop over to Lowes for a new one! Perhaps we should have checked that earlier.) So, you know, if anyone feels like snow-shoeing over for cocoa, come on down, we’ll be here a while!

For more news, see the Press Citizen.

and so it begins

CNN has been alternating between coverage of the Egyptian protests and dire Midwestern weather forecasts all day. Hmm . . . a Middle Eastern revolution on the one hand, and meteorology on the other? I guess this is a big storm, a literal storm, indeed a snow storm I would surmise!, we’re talking about. One of the two news stories begins, “Tens of millions of people are bracing for a major system poised to sweep through the [region].” Mass political demonstrations or blizzard? Who can tell? This hysterical news coverage has been the clearest indication that I should get thee to a grocery store and stock up — eggs! butter! swiss cheese and every citrus fruit imaginable! This is my take on storm preparedness — for this may be The One, The Big One, The One We’ve All Been Waiting For.

As for right now? Well it’s not really snowing. It was, and almost heavily, about an hour ago but now twilight has cast its blue sheen over the (slowly, yet increasingly) white city and the flakes have stopped. I’m feeling a bit skeptical.

And then I read the Blizzard Warning on weather.com, remember that the warning doesn’t start until midday tomorrow, and feel very thankful for a full fridge.

the dilema of our times

Temperatures aren’t supposed to break out of the negatives today . . .

Unless it starts to snow. Which’ll warm it up.

And I’d say, “Thank goodness for my chai lattes” . . .

But I already drank it all.

And I need more star anise and cardamom pods to make more.

To leave the house, or not to leave?

what i would not call yesterday’s snow

A blizzard

A snowpocalypse

A snownami

A fluridemic

At all comparable to what Minneapolis got

What I would call yesterday’ snow

A wee wonderland

Very bitterly cold

An argument for pre-salting the driveway and stocking up on groceries

As good a reason as any to make sour cream pancakes with sauteed cinnamon-sugar apples

it’s actually snowing: musings and fixings

1. I thought I was hallucinating Saturday morning when I heard the word “Cedar Rapids” drop from the lips of a CNN anchor. Granted, an anchor over at the meteorology desk. But still! She was telling us all about the cold front moving east through Omaha and right into our little college town. And presumably, on to New York and DC, which is why they care. Blizzard warnings on Saturday night, though it rained all morning and I didn’t really believe them. Until, right around one o’clock in the afternoon, the sheets of rain abruptly turned — transformed, really, in an instant — into white flurries. It’s like in Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” in the final battle scene when the good fairies wave their wands and Maleficent’s flying arrows become feathers. That quick. That’s how it started.

2. On reason I didn’t believe them: temperatures on Friday rose within spitting distance of 40 degrees. Forty degrees! This was huge. This was positively balmy. December in Iowa, and here I was forgoing gloves, scarf, hat, and even a coat. (Not a jacket, mind you; but a coat, yes.) Observation: I hope that when I move to New York, Massachusetts, or [fill-in-the-blank] next year, this sense of cold vs. warm sticks with me. I can go a long way if forty degrees stays my new sixty.

3. The “about” section up top mentions my search for “a butcher who who carves prosciutto.” I haven’t found that, but I did find, around this time last fall, La Quercia‘s packaged smoked meats. It’s made just down the road (…ish) in Norwalk, Iowa from pork sourced and slaughtered less than 200 miles away. And this little piggie that could has made its way to the big city. Jeffrey Steingarten, professional curmudgeon and the man who ate everything calls it “the best prosciutto, domestic or imported, you can get in America.” Mark Bittman calls it “a joy to taste.” I buy it at our hippie co-op, and in fact when I first asked the butcher for a recommendation, he pointed to La Quercia with the comment, “It’s been written up in the New York Times…” Do I walk around with a sign on my forehead? But no matter, this is great stuff.

4. Is it weird to have an opinion about flour? I know I have four in my cabinet — all purpose, whole wheat, bread, and rye, and the only reason I don’t have cake flour, too, is that you can make it at home! — but listen. When we were out of all purpose the other week, I picked up a bag at the hippie co-op. Because it is a hippie co-op, they only have organic kind: unbleached, unprocessed, all sorts of un’s. Frankly, I don’t totally understand the real world effect of these abundant un’s, but I love this flour. I makes my pizza crusts wonderfully light, even pillowy, and for some reason incorporates the wine and water so much more smoothly and softly than your typical Pilsbury. I mention dough, not cakes and cookies, because I actually notice a difference while I’m kneading. (And I don’t knead cake batter, sorry kids.) What is unbromated? I don’t know, but it’s what I’m buying from now on*.

5. I got a manicure two weeks ago. This is how it looked on Friday, that’s thirteen days after the salon visit.

Leaving aside my creepy spider hands, how amazing is that? This is the first time ever that I have taken off a nail polish because I got sick of the color, not because of ugly chipping — and this two weeks after! The color is “Big Apple Red,” and the long-wear is courtesy of OPI’s new line of gels, Axxium. The polish comes in a little pot, and the manicurist actually paints it on a with a little paintbrush. Once it’s dry, it’s immediately hardened, and you can actually root around in your purse for car keys, peel stickers off CDs, and do all the things that normal manicures wimp out on. I am big fan. I am spreading the gospel.

Enjoy your lazy, and perhaps snowy Sunday.

—-

*I did some research. Gold star, please? Further reading here and here. The gist is: Bromates are artificial aging agents, blah blah blah, oh and potentially carcinogenic. So, um, steer clear of bromated flours, I suppose.

oh but it’s cold outside

I am sure none of you will be terribly surprised that we had another snow on Sunday. I’m told this was more of a “March snow,” though — wet and quick to melt — which is a “good sign.” Me, I’m still trying to get over the realization that we’ll get snow in March. But it’s a comfort to know that I am not the only one sick of this season of single-digit precipitation known as winter. I’d been chalking it up to Mid-Atlantic Wussiness, but no, it now seems like everyone’s waiting for spring.

Thankfully, we’ve found a recipe to bring all the heat you could want into your kitchen and stomach, via Mexico. (In a wonderful twist of fate, did you know yesterday was National Margarita Day? It seems last night’s dinner was divinely ordained.) I can’t wait until it’s warm enough to slap these [cocktail marinated] babies on the grill and actually eat them outside. Noshing on chips and salsa while they cook. And finishing with key lime pie.

Not that I have a party menu all planned or anything . . .

Tequila-Lime Chicken

(From the Barefoot Contessa, with not a thing changed)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup gold tequila
  • 1/2 cup of lime juice (about six limes)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about two oranges)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 3 whole boneless chicken breasts, skin on (we used thighs, to no ill effect)

Directions

How easy is this: Put everything but the chicken in a baking dish/bowl/whatever will accommodate the chicken and fit in your fridge. Stir. Add the chicken. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In an ideal world, fire up your charcoal grill. Remove the chicken from marinade and season with salt and pepper. Grill, skin-side down, for five minutes. Turn and cook for another ten, or until cooked through. Remove from heat, cover with foil, and let sit for five minutes. (In this world, we cooked them on the stovetop, and each side took about ten minutes over a medium flame.)

Green Onion Slaw

(From Bobby Flay, with notes on proportions)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup green onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 serrano chiles (don’t wimp out!)
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • salt and papper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 head purple cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced and cut into inch-long pieces
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves

Directions

Again, I say, how easy is this! Load everything but the cabbage, onion, and cilantro in a blender and blend until emulsified. Put shredded cabbage, sliced onion, and cilantro in a bowl. Does this seem like a lot of slaw? (It did to us.) Stash half in the fridge, and toss the rest with as much dressing as you like.