Snow day open thread

Hundreds of school districts and businesses are closed across Iowa today because of winter storm Draco. Late last night we had rare snowstorm thunder and lightning in the Des Moines area. Power outages have affected many Iowans. Our electricity came back relatively soon in Windsor Heights, and I hope that will be true everywhere.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome. A few winter weather-related links and two soup recipes are after the jump.

Bob Fisher of KGLO Radio in Mason City interviewed Pete Hjelmstad of the Iowa Department of Transportation about what should be in every Iowa driver’s winter emergency kit.

“A lot of times, I think people think ‘oh, I don’t need all that stuff,’ but if you get stuck in a storm just once you’re going to be happy that you have a blanket, scarf, mittens and a stocking hat,” Hjelmstad says. “A flashlight and maybe booster cables – all of that stuff can really become pretty important.”

Other items for the emergency kit might include nonperishable foods, water, a shovel, extra batteries for the flashlight and insulated footwear. Hjelmstad says if you slide off the road into a ditch and help isn’t available immediately, make sure snow is cleared away from your vehicle’s exhaust and crack open a window.

Hjelmstad says some people also carry candles and matches in their winter survival kit with a metal can to hold the candle. “If you do that, crack the window a little bit. It’s going to give you some heat and some light, but you want to make sure you have fresh air in there as well,” Hjelmstad says.

Hjelmstad discouraged drivers from relying too much on their cell phones, because even if they are able to call for assistance, their cars may become very cold before help arrives.

Here are some physical games you can play with kids while stuck indoors. Other indoor play ideas not involving television are here.

We are excited about sledding today, since last winter provided very few opportunities for playing in the snow. Here are some sledding safety tips. I admit that I don’t make our kids wear helmets, but I do make sure an adult is supervising and don’t allow them to slide on any streets. More important points:

Make sure the sledding path does not cross traffic and is free from hazards such as large trees, fences, rocks, picnic tables, or telephone poles. […]

Teach children to roll off a sled that won’t stop.

Tell children to never ride into a snow bank – there could be hidden dangers such as a tree stump or rocks.

Here are two soup recipes for those who have electricity and lots of vegetables on hand:

Potato, Carrot and Leek Soup

1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (or onions, but I like leeks)

2 1/2 to 3 cups chopped carrots

3 to 5 cups chopped potatoes (depending on what proportion you like of potatoes to carrots). I scrub the potatoes but don’t peel them, but you can peel them if you like.

1 Tbsp honey

salt to taste

Saute leeks and carrots in a small amount of oil or butter in a large saucepan. After about 5 minutes, add potatoes and enough water to cover (I just barely let the water cover the vegetables, but if you like thinner soup, you can use more water).

Bring to a boil, stir in the honey and salt to taste (I use about a teaspoon, but you can use less), then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Puree with an immersion blender or a hand-held food mill, or for a chunkier soup, just mash with a potato masher. You don’t want to put potato-based soups in a blender or food processor, because it will create a gluey texture.

Return to pot, reheat and serve with fresh ground pepper if you like. With some bread and a side vegetable or salad, this is a whole meal for us. It keeps well for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

My favorite carrot soup, adapted from something I copied out of a recipe book at a friend’s house:

Carrot soup with ginger and Chinese flavors

1 large onion or 2-3 leeks (white and light green parts), chopped

few stalks celery or 1 celery root, chopped (optional)

1-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1-2 pounds carrots, chopped (you don’t have to cut small; one-inch pieces work fine)

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into slices

3 to 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock of your choice (or water plus a couple of boullon cubes)

crushed chili pepper flakes to taste (I use about 1/2 teaspoon)

1 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter (works fine with almond or cashew butter too)

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 tsp dark sesame oil

1/2 cup to 1 cup milk or yogurt or buttermilk (vegans can substitute soy milk or just leave out the milk)

Saute onions (and celery, if using) in some oil in a large saucepan. When onions are soft, add garlic, but don’t let the garlic burn. Add stock, carrots, ginger, and chili pepper flakes, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until carrots are tender (how long depends on how big the carrot chunks are).

When carrots are tender, stir in nut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and whatever milk you are using. Stir to blend, then puree in batches. Don’t fill the blender too full with a hot liquid! Return to pot, reheat and serve.

Tags: Food, Recipes, Safety
  • Frustrated

    I know this is completely off topic and may upset people, but the attacks that I read on Daily Kos Elections regarding Cory Booker are depressing.  When are people going to come to terms with the fact that people look out for employers (Wall Street, hedge funds for Booker) in their state.

    Harkin and Grassley stick up for millionaires in the ethanol, wind industry and big farmers.  Why do they do that?  People have to stay employed and the “progressive wing” of the party offers few employment alternatives.

    Go through every state and nearly every U.S. Senator is an advocate for an employer in their state,  It’s their job!  

    • I have not been reading Daily Kos

      much since they changed their format a while back. I get what you are saying. Joe Biden also cast some very bad votes while looking out for banks and credit card companies.

      That said, if I lived in New Jersey I don’t think I’d want to trade Frank Lautenberg for Cory Booker. Maybe Lautenberg plans to retire anyway.

      • Booker

        Lautenberg is a good guy who came from the business world.  It just really makes me mad that some people imply that Booker doesn’t care about poor people because he has a DLC profile.  

        Every poor person in America should dream to be extremely successful at whatever you do and just because you say the financial services sector has to remain competitive doesn’t mean you don’t want to provide assistance for people.

        I would even be interested to see how many hedge fund managers voted for Obama over Romney, I bet the numbers were pretty close.  Of course Obama’s not a good progressive in the eyes of many.  

        • Obama hasn't done anything

          to offend hedge fund managers. A lot of their income doesn’t count as "earned income," so wouldn’t be affected by letting top Bush tax cuts expire. Obama hasn’t put political capital behind closing that loophole. Why wouldn’t they vote for him?

        • also

          Obama isn’t trying to lift the cap on income that’s subject to the Social Security tax. Instead, he wants to force long-term benefit cuts on lower and middle-income Social Security recipients. If you’re a hedge fund manager, what’s not to like?

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