People, lets talk Polar Vortex.
Portland is paralyzed.
Last night, I met a friend for dinner at a high minded dining establishment in the tonier part of town. As we collected our coats to leave, the very genial host smiled and commented on how there was "a bit of a chill in the air," and we stared at each other and then her as we piled on enough layers to literally roll to our car. I turned to her and said, "Lady, it is colder than balls. BALLS!"
It is indeed cold enough that we spend our days in the living room with heating pads, heaters, blankets, many layers of clothes, USB heated gloves and a microwavable bunny. Schools are closed. They've pre-empted TV programming. The streets are empty. Hipsters try to bicycle in a wind so strong that snow only gets to lick the ground before it's swept away. As I sit at the tire center, they are getting calls about snow chains.
Now I realize, most of you are enveloped by the polar vortex, but here in Portland, it's flurrying. It's not sticking. THIS IS NOT A WINTER STORM, PEOPLE.
I lived on Cape Cod for a few years, and as a Red Cross volunteer, was active in their disaster prep. If you look at the map of the US, on the east coast there is a little finger wiggling "come hither" to hurricanes and nor-easters. That's Cape Cod. Snowfall on Cape Cod is the real shit, yo.
A few years ago, we opened the shelters in anticipation of a massive storm, and so I bunkered down at the local high school as we prepped food and cots and communications. The locals are hardcore, so for all our efforts, we got one drunken sailor (really, not kidding about that) who the police dropped off to sober up and otherwise spent the night in the library waiting it out. As night began to fall, we knew someone would need to make the last run to the grocery store, and I volunteered. I had this massive 4runner, and was all gung ho to get out in it.
And so the parking lot is where the police chief found me, 45 minutes later, in my car, snow piling up hard, with the music blaring and the drivers manual open to "How to Shift into 4 Wheel Drive". He rolled his eyes, moved me out of the way, shifted the car into 4WD and said he'd follow me out. Utter GLEE is what followed as we plowed through a foot of snow, until I waved him over to talk window to window: "Hey.... so... how do I shift OUT of 4WD?". It was not the finest moment in the historical context of women drivers.
The next morning, after a short detour where everyone stared at me when I revealed I had never gone sledding and we immediately found some cardboard and garbage bags and availed ourselves of the hill the school sat on, I packed up, grabbed my doberman Lucy and headed home.
I maintain a very thoughtful snow shoveling philosophy: I don't do it. Fuck it. I work from home. I have boots. I back my car up across the street, throw it into 4WD and slam on the gas up the driveway. Back up, do it again. If I'm having houseguests, I will take the shovel, put it to the ground and walk it from the front door to the carpath, creating one pristine 10" path. Cause i'm fancy like that.
The problem, as I arrived home that morning, was that the plows had been through already, creating a 7ft snowberm at the base of my driveway. It had stopped snowing, so though there was multiple feet of snow on the ground, everyone was out shoveling. I sat in my car, at the end of the driveway, Lucy beside me, without a shovel, as my neighbors eyed me.
I got out and surveyed the situation like a pool table. I hit the garage door opener, and it opened perfectly, giving us a goalline. We just had to make it those 40 feet.
I considered launching Lucy, flying squirrel style, over the berm to the other side and climbing over. But I had no idea how deep it was on the other side. What if she drowned in snow (I know. I KNOW.)? What if I got stuck, all bog-style and had to plead for my neighbors help as I held my doberman above my head and slowly drowned like the horse in "Never Ending Story" (a scene that haunts me)?
So I did what any normal person would do. I swam.
I did the australian crawl through that snowdrift, spitting out snow like I was Michael Phelps, and crawled into the garage like I had just found the beach after being at sea three days adrift. I rescued my snow shovel, dug two golden tracks into the driveway for my car, grabbed the dog from her perch in the passenger seat, where she had been looking on the ridiculousness while enjoying the heater, and we all went on with our lives.
So, dear Portland... to refresh:
You know what's easier than swimming through 3 feet of snow?
EVERY OTHER DAMN THING.
As we hunker down in our various dwellings around the country against this disaster movie of a winter, I continue my virtual quasi-tour around the world via lazy cooking.
The laziest? Green curry. Because I won't be actually making the curry. Why should I? It comes in such an adorable little jar, all ready to go. And a curry, rich and creamy and spicy, is the perfect thing to tuck into on a cold vortex-y eve. As always, you can make it with whatever you please, I happen to think this is absolutely delicious with a firm tofu.
"THIS IS NOT AUTHENTIC THAI!" I know. If you'd LIKE to make some authentic Thai, I recommend the insanely good website of my friend Cee, who lived in Thailand for years, is a phenomenal cook (and the brilliant tech director for Autostraddle), and has translated many of the recipes there. She's in Thailand again right now on vacay, and I miss her, our dinners and drinking excursions lots. She'd yell at me if I showed her this recipe, so definitely don't do that.
Lamb and Romanesco Green Curry
1 can of coconut milk
3 tbsp green curry paste
1lb lamb stew meat
1 medium head of romanseco (or cauliflower if you can't find it)
1/2 red onion
3 tbsp sesame oil
1. Make rice.
2. Rough chop the romansco and dice the red onion. Heat the sesame oil in a saute pan on over medium high heat.
3. When oil is sizzling, add onion and lamb. Stir lamb 3-4 minutes, which will allow it to brown a bit. If you're doing tofu, you won't want to stir it so much as shake the pan or use a spatula to move everything around. You don't want to break up the tofu.
4. Now add the green curry and stir it into the lamb and onions. Once everything is coated, on medium high heat, stir everything so the curry paste has time to actually fry a bit. Again, if you're using tofu, don't stir, shake.
5. Add your romanesco and stir.
6. Add the coconut milk and stir. Turn the heat down to a low simmer.
6. Allow to cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered on a light simmer. Serve over rice.
While neither complicated or very homemade, it is quite delicious. You can add more spice by adding more curry paste, and I even raise it a bit by adding Cholula sauce.
Next week we're headed to Germany. Well. Germany-ish. Germany-esque. Germany adjacent?
What I really want to know is.... HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THE VORTEX? You know.... gastronomically? And ... dog dressedly?