Kitchen & Pantry

Saving what’s in the fridge during a blackout


Armed with the news that a strong typhoon was on its way, I sent messages to Sam and Alex to stock up on food and drinks as it was likely that there would be no food deliveries until after the typhoon was gone. Reminding them was about the only thing I could do they being in the city.

Typhoon Glenda lashed across central and southern Luzon, strong winds blew from midnight until dawn on Wednesday. I slept through it all. When I woke up, Speedy told me that, sometime during the night, the roof of the dog kennel flew off and he had to retrieve it from the road to put it back where it belonged. There was also a bunch of kaffir limes on the kitchen island. The kaffir lime tree snapped in half, Speedy had to harvest the unripe fruits but, fortunately, the tree will live.

There was a massive blackout, the tap was dry (we always store water for emergencies) but the weather was cool so it was just a matter of waiting for power to be restored. There were four packs of meat in the freezer — two packs of pork belly, half a kilo of ground meat and a slab of stewing beef — but so long as we minimized opening the freezer door, the meat wouldn’t thaw for at least two days. Speedy cooked the smaller piece of pork belly into lechon kawali and we had it for lunch. I made adobo with the larger piece and that was what we had for dinner and breakfast the next day. We were in good spirits. I was reading books on my iPad and I was content.

The politically correct thing to say is that I am only too happy that no one in my family was hurt and that we should consider the inconveniences negligible. The girls had to live on whatever food they could scrounge from the nearest convenience store but they were safe. Speedy had to clean the debris in the garden and I had to salvage the contents of the fridge but, hey, we had food, the house did not suffer any damage, so we were okay.

The thing is, it was easy to say we were okay only for a while. By noon of Thursday, we were getting antsy. Power was still down and although water supply had resumed, it was still going on and off. We tried to remain optimistic and did what we could. For lunch on Thursday, I cooked the half kilo of ground meat into four oversized burgers.


It definitely was not the occasion to insist that burgers should be cooked medium rare. Hell, no. The four burgers would have to last from lunch until dinner and, to make sure that they wouldn’t spoil, I fried them to death. Crisp outside; fully cooked inside. No pink meat bullshit.


And then I overloaded them with cheese. Instead of thin slices of cheese, for lunch, I topped each burger with two thick slices of cheddar to consume all the cheddar in the fridge. And, for dinner, I slathered the burgers with cream cheese about half an inch thick.

So, pork belly, ground meat and cheeses salvaged.

Before I went to sleep on Thursday evening, I simmered the beef and left it in the pot overnight. The next day, I cooked the beef into two dishes, we had one for lunch and the other for dinner. Nothing complicated, just simple sauces with no ingredients that spoil easily.

By Friday, our sense of humor had flown out the window. Power had not been restored in our village although the one next to ours has had lights on since Thursday. Because the Meralco (the power company, for non-Filipino readers) hotline could not be reached, Speedy had gone to the branch office on Thursday afternoon to file a report but, by Friday, no one had come to check our area.

We kept the radio on for updates, Meralco officials (mostly, lawyers) were interviewed so many times and all they did was wash their hands off any blame. It’s the fault of the independent power suppliers (IPPs), they said, Meralco was doing its part but the suppliers had nothing to give. It was almost believable until one radio commentator asked pointblank if it wasn’t true that two of the IPPs that Meralco was pinning the blame on were actually owned by Meralco itself. And the lady lawyer being interviewed was suddenly evasive.

Power resumed before noon today, Saturday. The official word is that all areas affected by Typhoon Glenda will still be subject to rotating brownouts until power supply normalized. Meanwhile, Typhoon Henry has entered the Philippine area of responsibility. Good luck to us all.

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