Snowed in and without power in the Pacific NW, I went to bed hoping I would wake to a warm house, hot water and communication with the outside world. I didn’t know it would be two and a half days with no heat, no lights, no phone, no internet.
I can do without many things, but not my coffee! So, with making a cup my first priority, I actually looked forward to a day (okay – it was a couple!) of using the skills and resources that I learned from a day at the Alice Ross Hearth Studios.
Alice helped me do research for my historical romance novel. She taught me what a seventeenth century homemaker would need to know about cooking, preserving and surviving in a wild, new land. The fire in the hearth was central to everything.
As I built my fire that cold morning I pictured cooking my meals like our ancestors did. But when the ashes fell into my pot of water (even a strainer over the top would not keep them out!) I realized that my hearth was just not equipped.
I needed a lug-pole and trammels to hold my pot high. And a bit longer hearth would certainly give me room to move multiple dishes about. Note to hubby: next house we build . . .
I did tuck a yam into the coals and it was heavenly! But by the next morning and still no electricity, I knew I had to figure out a way to cook a meal. That’s when I realized I had a gas grill not four feet from my back door!
In keeping with my theme “What would Grandma Horton cook?” I stirred up a batter for corn cakes, sprinkling in a handful of currents. A pat of butter and oh, my! Drenched in pure maple syrup, the cakes were decadent! The early English immigrants were introduced to maple syrup by the Native Americans, who taught them to draw it from the trees.
The women who were the founding mothers of our nation were brave indeed. After two days of hauling in wood, poking at logs, and tamping out escaped cinders, I rubbed the splinters and blisters on my fingers and thanked our Lord for those strong, courageous ladies. Without them we wouldn’t be here.
That night I warmed a thick chicken stew on the grill and dined by candlelight. I watched the glowing orange coals as the flickering flames licked the air and thought for a moment about how hard I’d worked.
With a laugh I reminded myself that yes, the fire was labor intensive.
But, I didn’t haul the water from a spring, grind the corn or pluck the chicken! I didn’t make the candles and can’t even imagine rendering fat from a sheep for the tallow. And I didn’t need to strike flint or gather dried moss to start my fire. A match did the trick with a fire-starter under my logs.
Oh! And the electricity came on last night. I woke up to a toasty room and hot water in my Kuerig! Now where’s my laptop?