Monday, September 01, 2008

Hurricane Food

As I sit and write this column, I am watching the television coverage of Hurricane Gustav as it makes landfall a few hundred miles west of my breakfast room.

My family hunkered down several days in advance this time, which beats the last minute scramble we endured before Hurricane Katrina.

This morning I am ice rich. I am surrounded by ice chests, bottled water, and hurricane food.

Ice is the key.

Before Katrina, I encouraged my managers and friends to load up on ice from one of the three, large ice machines located at our restaurant. They seemed skeptical, but filled their ice chests nonetheless. I was remembering the days after Hurricane Camille when, as an eight-year old, I waited in line with my mother at the local ice house every afternoon for two weeks until electricity was restored.

Once my friends and managers loaded up on pre-Katrina ice, I filled a large ice chest with the cubes left at the bottom of the restaurant’s bin. After securing my business, I lifted the ice chest into the back of my truck and headed home to ride out the storm with my family.

Three blocks from the restaurant, as I was pulling through an intersection, I heard a loud crash. I looked into my rear-view mirror and watched, as the last available ice in Hattiesburg, Mississippi spilled all over the hot August asphalt. I had forgotten to close the tailgate on my truck and the ice chest flew out the back as I drove through the intersection.

This morning I am ice rich. I am surrounded by ice chests, bottled water, and hurricane food.

My first memory of Hurricane food was as an eight-year old in the aftermath of Camille. My mother, brother and I cooked over Sterno leftover from my brother's Boy Scout days. Our neighborhood also banded together and gathered at the house of a man who had a natural-gas grill.

In 1969, at the exact time concert goers were listening to Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and The Who make rock-and-roll history at the Woodstock concert in upstate New York, we were eating beanie weenies in the sweltering heat of my back yard. From what I've seen in the Woodstock movie, the conditions were similar.

Kids don't mind adverse conditions. I never remember complaining about the heat in the days after Camille. To me, it was like camping out in the backyard.

As a forty-something I was about as hot as I've ever been in the still, quiet days following Katrina. Several months after Katrina blew through town, my son asked my wife, "Momma, when do we get to sleep in the den and eat ham sandwiches again?

No power, no water, no ice, no trees, and my son remembers ham sandwiches. I remember Sterno. Most attendees at Woodstock probably don’t remember anything.

This morning I am ice rich. I am surrounded by ice chests, bottled water, and hurricane food. It appears that we dodged Mother Nature's 120-mph bullet. Let's all pray that it will be many years before we again have to worry about Sterno, ice, and hurricane food.

Ham, Cheese, and Poppy Seed Freezer Sandwiches

1 stick Butter, melted
3 Tbl Prepared Horseradish
3 Tbl Dijon Mustard
2 Tbl Poppy Seeds
1 lb Ham, thinly sliced
8 slices Swiss cheese
8 Hamburger Buns

Combine butter, horseradish, mustard and poppy seeds. Mix thoroughly. Open hamburger buns and brush both sides of the inside with the poppy seed dressing. Place two ounces of ham and one slice of cheese on bottom part of bun. Repeat with the remainder of the buns. Close the tops of the buns and brush more of the poppy seed dressing on the outside tops and bottoms of buns. Tightly wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil and freeze.

To cook, preheat oven to 400-degrees. Place sandwich, still tightly wrapped in foil, directly on the center rack for approximately 30-45 minutes until center is hot and cheese is melted. Yield: eight sandwiches.

1 comment:

tgtank said...

Sounds like we might need to stock up on these in preparation for Ike. I'm hoping not though.