Be prepared

The weather last night was wicked.  A Nor’easter blew into town and sat on us for 15 hours or so. Wind gusts well over 60 mph buffeted the house and were constant.  Trees swayed dangerously; power flickered.  It was a near certainty that we would lose power at some point.  It hardly seemed like a night to cook, but our good friends D & G were coming for dinner.   They called to make sure we were still game given the weather conditions; and, as long as I didn’t have to drive, I was thrilled to have dear friends come and hang. 

Still, I needed to think about this dinner strategically.  I had to plan a meal that I could make even if we were in the dark.  Relying on the oven would not do.  And, unlike most storms, the weather last night made grilling truly an impossibility.  So, I surveyed my options-or lack of them.  I was left with preparing food that could be served at room temperature, cooked on a stove-top (we have gas), or eaten frozen.  Always one for a challenge, I decided that this would have all three!

For the main course the answer was simple: pasta would rule the evening.  It could be made even if the power went out as long as I had a match.  For my veggies I checked the room-temperature box: a salad and roasted kale made early-just in case.   But, the showstopper would be dessert.  At the green grocers, I found gorgeous blood oranges.  I would make a frozen Blood Orange Granita.  Even if we lost power, the freezer would still stay cold enough to keep the granita icy.   This dinner plan was bullet-proof enough to make even an Eagle Scout proud.

As the evening and storm progressed, I set up and lit copious amounts of votive candles, built a fire, and readied for the power to go out.  Our friends arrived. The power flickered and it did not faze me in the least.  “Bring it on,” I thought;  “I have a plan.  I am prepared!” 

As it turns out, we never lost power.  It flickered many times, but never disappeared all together.  Maybe we just got lucky or maybe all my planning insured that we would keep the lights on.  I can’t tell you which, I just know that we had a wonderfully calm and cozy night with dear friends while a storm raged around us.

Blood Orange-Champagne Granita with Berries– serves 6

¾ c, plus 1 T sugar

6 T water

1 pint ripe strawberries

1 T plus 4 ½ t lemon juice

2 T thinly sliced mint

2 T Grand Marnier

2 ½ c Champagne

½ c. fresh blood orange juice

1. Mix ¾ c. sugar and the water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute.  Let cool.

2. In a shallow nonreactive pan combine the sugar syrup, Champagne, blood orange juice and 4 ½ t of lemon juice.  Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.

3. Combine berries, 1 T sugar, 1 T lemon juice, sliced mint and Grand Marnier.  Let stand covered at room temperature for 2-3 hours. 

To serve, scrape granita with fork and top with berries.

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