Our sense of normalcy has been upended.
I weathered the storm at a friend's house, with full power, incredible food, and lots of crafting. I took a cab home from their house on Tuesday afternoon, and we drove by downed trees, crushed cars and signs warning us to keep out of the parks.
I returned home to a neighborhood that was relatively untouched, other than branches and leaves littering the streets. Restaurants, bars and coffee shops were all open and flooded with people who were unable to get to their jobs in Manhattan.
We ate, laughed, went for long walks and cooked. It felt almost normal at first, almost like a vacation.
But then we turned on the news and saw such wide-spread devastation that didn't fit at all with the reality we were living. We received emails about coworkers who had lost their homes overnight. We volunteered at local high schools housing hundreds of displaced citizens, some of us serving breakfast or working overnight shifts and others providing entertainment to people who so badly needed a break from reality. We saw low-wage workers desperately in need of their paychecks walk across the boroughs to their early morning jobs.
It's days like these when all I want is comfort food.
Like this pot pie. We made a huge batch of pot pie filling and pie crusts on our fourth day off of work because of Hurricane Sandy. We cooked with the TV off, with our phones that had been constantly feeding us updates on the state of our city tucked far away.
These pot pies are loaded with potatoes, carrots, peas, lima beans, corn and onions, smothered in a homemade gravy, and topped with a savory pie crust. We made eight, baked them until they were almost done in the oven, and then froze them.
The recovery from Hurricane Sandy will not be quick. I worry that when most of us have our lives back to normal, when gas stations once again have gas and subway lines connect us through the boroughs, our efforts to help those who will remain in need for a long time will decrease.
As a school, as a community, as a city, we must keep asking, "How can we help?"
If you're interested in donating to a local organization doing fantastic work supporting rebuilding Red Hook, Brooklyn, consider the Red Hook Initiative: rhicenter.org.
Vegetable Pot Pies
This recipe yields 4 eight-inch pot pies, which I put in the cheap aluminum pans you can buy at the grocery store for a quarter each. It can easily be doubled or quadrupled, and the pot pies freeze beautifully before or after cooking. Keeping a consistent dice on the potatoes and carrots will help ensure the ingredients in your pot pies are evenly cooked.
I made these pot pies with only top crusts to make them a bit healthier. If you'd like a bottom crust as well, double the crust recipe!
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
2 Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
4 large carrots, scrubbed and diced
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup each: frozen peas, frozen corn, frozen lima beans, frozen edamae (feel free to substitute other frozen veggies, fresh veggies or play around with quantities)
2 nine-inch pie crusts, your favorite recipe
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In the largest saute pan you own, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil with the diced onions. Heat over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add potatoes and carrots and continue stirring regularly, about 10 to 12 minutes, until the potatoes and carrots begin to soften.
Add 1/4 cup of flour to the pan, and stir regularly for about 2 minutes until the flour is fully incorporated. Add heavy cream, vegetable broth and water to the pan, stirring regularly for about 5 minutes until the gravy thickens. Add frozen vegetables, stir, and remove the pan from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon filling evenly between your four pans. Roll out pie crusts to your desired size, fold over the top of your pot pie filling, and crimp the edges down.
Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned. Remove from the oven. Serve warm. Or, allow the pies to cool, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, and freeze them until you're ready for a cozy meal.