Thursday, November 19, 2009

When the Lights Go Out

This is the time of year when snow begins to fly here in Colorado, and with it, the winds whistle and blow. As it often happens, branches break and power outages occur. We are so accustomed to having electricity, we can be hugely challenged on how to make dinner, let alone what to do to occupy our time as we wait for the power to come back up.

Let me take you on a journey back in time to days before electricity to spark creative ideas when the lights go out. You might even want to turn the lights off on purpose to enjoy these, rather than wait for that blustery day!

Cooking without power can be a challenge -- but how could it also be an adventure? If you have a fireplace or wood stove, there are a number of wood stove cooking recipes -- and some common recipes can be adapted easily for open fire cooking. For example, did you know you can slow cook a pizza over an open fire? If you have one in the freezer, just pop it onto a pizza pan or cookie sheet and lay it over coals, slowly baking til done. If not, making your own dough can be accomplished without a mixer or electricity. The dough can be allowed to rise in a warm place (somewhat close in to the hearth). Then, make your own pizza from scratch.

If you want to cook something a little more simple, toast grilled cheese sandwiches over the coals. I have also put a covered cast iron pot next to the fire to heat soup or baked beans.

Of course, having lanterns to light or candles to burn is important to light the way during a power outage. But, enjoy creativity as you do. Setting the table with a cluster of candles adds romance! They can also provide enough light for a game of cards. Let's get even more creative, though. It might be a bit chilly in the room and if you move around, you will add warmth to the atmosphere. How about a game of charades?

We always enjoy the old stand-by of reading, but spice it up a bit and read aloud to one another, bringing the story to life with the addition of character in vocal inflection. Take turns and watch as each person ups the ante in drama!

Don't just decide to sit in your own corner and knit or crochet. How about teaching someone the art? My sons learned how to crochet in just that way.

Pull out a book of games and try something new. In days gone by, families entertained one another with trick games, parlor magic, or intellectual games. And, with the shadows cast in lamplight, of course, it's one of the very best times to practice making shadow puppets or sketching shadow portraits of one another.

I actually look forward to the times the lights go out now. I can slow my pace of life and really savor the moments! Hope you will enjoy those moments when they come, too.