Monday, September 19, 2011

Grilled Chicken With Peaches: It's A Meal, It's A Sandwich - And The Week The Lights Went Out

Speaking entirely from my personal experience, what still stands out foremost in my mind about Hurricane Irene (actually, in my area she was downgraded to a tropical storm) is the NOISE, NOISE, NOISE! Those gas operated generators are so noisy! 

"There's one thing I hate 
all the noise, noise, noise. . . 
And they'll make shrieks and squeels racing round on their wheels, 
they'll dance with ting-tinglers tied on to their heels. 
They'll blow their blue-toopers, they'll bang their ta-tinkers. 
They'll blow their Who-whoopers, 
they'll bang their gar-dinkers. 
They'll beat their drum-dinkers, 
they'll slam their slew-slumpers. 
They'll beat their flung-floopers, 
they'll slam their who-wunkers. 
And they'll play noisy games like zoozit and kazay -- 
a rollerskate kind of lacrosse and croquet. 

Then they'll make ear splitting noises galooks 
on their great big electro-who-cardio-shnoox." Source

I'm not sure if the noisy toys in The Grinch That Stole Christmas 1966 cartoon are spelled correctly here, but that is what came to mind after hearing a noisy generator nearby and distant humming for a few days! My ears started ringing when I heard even more noise from

lawnmowers and leaf blowers, 
as people cleaned up debris from their lawns, 
as fallen trees were still being trimmed, and
heavy-equipment mulchers, 
as large branches were being pulverized into, well, mulch.

When the noise quieted down, usually after 9 or 10 pm, the overture score of crickets, tree fogs, and other night chirpers was pleasant and soothing. Epic even, like the finger-snapping gangsters in West Side Story claiming their territory. Sometimes a chorus, singing in their tiny yet assertive insect voices, "Anything you can do I can do better; I can do anything better than you . . ." in their attempt to outdo the deafening man-made noise that rang on throughout the day. I welcomed the competition.

Knowing it wouldn't be forever, I was in no rush to return to "normalcy". Quietly, internally, I enjoyed our new way of living.

We had more time to play board games.

The neighborhood boys played endless rounds of basketball, manhunt, 
went swimming in the nearby pond and pool on days they otherwise 
would have been in school, 
fished, filleted, and then ate their fish by candlelight 
(not the best fish to eat but they wanted to try it!).

We got up early and went to bed early.

We read books, by candlelight.

We thought and talked about the days when people actually lived without electricity, 
and those who still do today.

We were inventive, thinking of new ways to take warm showers and wash dishes. 
We called my husband "MacGyver".

My parents and I stored food at my sisters so I visited family more.

I got creative making photo vignettes with candles, antiques, and theater props.

We took a break from computers and social media.

We ate simply.

We lived simply.

After four days (not quite a week but it was a week of disruption), yes, we were happy to be back on the grid. 

I still clearly remember the simultaneous shouts of joy from neighbors when the lights went on. I heard one neighbor holler out, "I'm taking the first hot shower!" 

One family had a full house generator! They had power the entire time - all lights, warm water, even air conditioning. Wow! I wonder, though, what will their children remember about the storm? What are their stories.

But, I'm glad our lights went out. I think it was a good life experience for my children and family. It bonded us. It's an experience we will always remember even after we've forgotten about the noise. 


Grilled Chicken Thighs With Peaches - The Meal

Grilled potato wedges and carrots: The meal started with grilled potato wedges and sliced carrots that were tossed with a little extra virgin olive oil to coat, pepper, fresh rosemary; grilled, covered, over medium-high heat in a baking sheet until tender. The needles of the rosemary were then removed from the stems, crumbled a little and mixed in, stems discarded. 

Grilled Chicken Thighs With Peaches: This isn't fancy or complicated but tasted great and fresh. I didn't have a choice but to use up all the chicken I had or it would spoil. (Once defrosted, raw chicken wouldn't keep long in a cooler.) In a bowl, I coated chicken with extra virgin olive oil and a little pepper (add a little salt if you want), and grilled them over low heat in foil until almost cooked through, then grilled on high a few minutes on each side to finish and achieve deep grill marks.

On a baking pan, I placed about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, about one half cup low-sodium chicken broth, and three chopped ripe peaches and cooked over high heat until they softened (peaches can cook along side the chicken while they are over high heat, or separately if there's no room). They were removed from heat, finished with chopped fresh herbs like parsley, basil, rosemary - for all ingredients, I used portions that looked right for the amount of chicken being cooked. It's all fresh, so it's difficult to mess up!

The cooked chicken was added to the peaches, herbs, and broth. Tossed and served.

We used paper and plastic goods, and served from pans, for practicality since there was no hot water to clean dishes. We had to boil water over the grill to clean so we kept dishes to a minimum.

Grilled Chicken With Peaches - The Sandwich

When power was restored two days later (leftovers were kept over ice in a cooler for a day and a half), we turned the leftovers into a delicious sandwich. The remaining chicken was sliced lengthwise and placed in a small baking pan along with the peaches and reheated in the oven (I can't remember, but from the photo, it looks like I might have added more chopped peaches).  

Over a flour tortilla, I added a slice of yogurt cheese, some of the chicken and peaches, strips of red peppers and carrots. Rolled it up. The soft peaches gave the sandwich moisture in place of other condiments like mayo, etc. And that's it! Yum.



While I joke about the noise, again this post is about my personal experience. Hurricane Irene caused a lot of destruction, loss of property and lives; I still think of the people affected by her wrath. We were mildly affected, experiencing a few days of what it's like to live without electricity. We lost some food and a few big branches. But nothing compared to many who lost much more.

Nutrition Notation: Did you know that dark poultry meat has more nutrients than white?