Having grown up in Florida and hunkered down in several hurricanes and tropical storms all my life, I don’t play around when the warnings go up. Hurricane Ivan, back in 2004, roared through my little Pennsylvania town and left huge damage: big big floods downtown and gigantic trees down on my house. So, really, I know the potential hazards of these storms from start to finish.

On Saturday I had a sleepless night with the high winds and heavy rain pelting my windows and lost power for just a moment. Irene left just two tiny puddles in my basement. Fortunately, I am lucky to live on high ground. The creeks and rivers here in my town–the Delaware branches off into another major river to the west and they both break off into countless small waterways–have crested and deep deep flooding has occurred. Devastation hits these folks living on low ground again for what feels like the millionth time in the past decade.

The power is still out in the main buildings at RealJob and so the first day of the new year has been cancelled. I’ll spend the day trying to volunteer my time.

I hope you all survived Irene unscathed!

Shall we lighten the mood now?

Meatballs! Last week I got the notion that meatballs might be the best first foray into my quest to learn how to cook for two. [But really, isn’t it just too fun to say “meat” and “balls”? meat-balls! meat-balls! balls! meat! balls!] I consulted Alton (my celebrity chef bf) and went shopping. Now you can’t buy ground beast (pork, lamb, beef) by the half-pound easily at my local grocery store, so I had to plan to freeze some. To freeze, I spread the balls out on a cookie sheet and froze solid; then I put them in a plastic bowl with a lid. They reheat magically in sauce in just 15-20 minutes.

Alton's balls

They look like big brown meat pellets when just out of the oven.

BallFest 2011

But simmered in sauce and sprinkled with cheese? Nom! This is the perfect quick meal. I’ll even add pasta if I’m not feeling lazy.

So what should I try next? I really am trying to learn smaller-scale cookery. I’ve gotten Serve Yourself and will try some recipes in there. Some folks have suggested getting a slow cooker. Any opinions on that?