Big Freeze of February 2021. We were there and lived to tell about it. Deer sausage was involved.
Hi, Again, Dear Readers:
I know, it’s been a while again. Still writing for clients. We all had a setback about six weeks ago. Perhaps you heard about it, and perhaps you experienced it. We did, and so did friends.
I’d planned on having this as part of another post, but it’s too long. Let me tell you all about it, with some news first.
Hubig’s Pies Return Soon
You read that right–the famed Hubig’s Pies will be returning sometime later this year.
I wrote about Hubig’s Pies a few years ago, and despite people asking for them, the company and its owners have been struggling to get them back into production. But they’re now on track for the return, 100 years after they first appeared.
Then, of course, the pandemic. They were supposed to return already, but bringing back such a well-loved tradition takes a lot of hard work. If people open up a Hubig’s and turn their nose up, it’s all for nothing. So, understandably, it’s taken a while.
BF will be all over them, I’m sure. I’ll just watch from a distance.
The Big Freeze
OK, so. . .you want to know what took me so long to write again? I’ll tell you–we all froze over. No kidding. And Valentine’s Day was spent getting ready for the incoming winter storm.
We didn’t get to do our normal Valentine’s Day “dinner and a movie at home.” Sunday was spent making preparations as fast as we could. But BF did bring home something for me, even though he said he didn’t want anything himself:
Admittedly, they were absolutely delicious, but I ate just one a day.
It seems that someone BF knows through work used to work for Albertson’s, one of the grocery stores in Hammond. She worked in the area that did this kind of thing but now does it on her own. Reasonably priced, he said, so he ordered some and brought them home the day before (Saturday.) He was off on Sunday the 14th–good thing.
We worked it–from pulling space heaters into the house to gathering up flashlights, candles, power banks, and every other emergency thing we have to do. This included washing clothes, dishes, and checking the foodstuffs we had available, knowing what we needed and what to get to prepare. That’s how we spent Valentine’s Day–preparing for the incoming freeze.
Unfortunately, the three IKEA tea light lanterns I had were left behind when I moved here, so we had to be really careful with the little candles. I still have some heavy glass tea light holders and have since ordered some of these Rotera lanterns from IKEA’s website, along with two packages of their tea lights. The ones I bought locally some time ago last about 15 minutes. With hurricane season just a couple of months away and the occasional random power outage, they’ll be well worth the wait and investment.
Fixing The Sweater
A couple of years ago, Simplicity published what I think of as the quintessential winter sweater, #S8738. Made with a sweater knit bought by the yard, this pattern just said “sweater” to me. I’ve made nine of them from different types of fabrics. All but one came from online vendors; the grey waffle knit came from a cut bundle at Walmart. It does get *that* cold here, unlike Houston and New Orleans. And for a freeze, well, you need sweaters, right?
Now I have a total of 16 sweaters. Some of the later ones were indeed made from Walmart cuts, including a black-and-white buffalo check knit that I made into this sweater from Simplicity’s #S9178.
This particular garment was one of the first of the sweaters I made from #S8738 using this fabulous southwestern knit from Fashion Fabrics Club:
Problem: because the polyester fabric isn’t very stretchy, the collar was too snug, making it too hot to wear for very long. I had to wait until the weather was cold enough, but even then it was a “heat trap.” Solution: take the scraps and cut a new, larger collar, cut off the existing collar below the seam, then install the new one into the bigger neck opening.
Knowing I would need all my warmest clothes for the next few days, I set out to fix this sweater for good. I had to get BF to help me FIND the scraps, but once he did, I got to work. It didn’t take long. Now it’s more breathable and lets the heat out as it should. It’s one of the last things I did before we went to bed that night.
Monday, February 15
The freeze and storm moved through the entire state of Texas, bringing snow, ice, and power outages into Louisiana. Houston actually got snow, and some parts west of us did, but we didn’t. (Still wishing, but maybe next year.) I was in touch with a few folks, and they had different stories to tell.
- Aunt Ruth near Manvel, TX, lost her phone and Internet, and experienced low water pressure, but never lost power
- The GER lost power and water, and it got down to 58F in the Funk House/Junk House before Centerpoint restored power to his neighborhood
- Miss Alice, now living in the Medical Center area of Houston, had power, but her bathroom facilities went out, likely to a broken pipe, and was subsequently repaired
- RR in Katy, TX, aka “Banana Rat,” was fixing burst pipes at his own house as well as his girlfriend’s mother’s house
- Neighbor E lost power intermittently, and his sister in another part of Houston lost power four times. Eventually, the power came back on and stayed on, and they were ok. He sent me a couple of pictures of the winter wonderland at El Dorado Trace:
Nobody’s going swimming today.
Water went down because plants had no power to operate, leaving lines and mains to freeze. But our waterworks in St. Helena Parish’s apparently had power, thank heavens.
We did offer Miss Alice, Neighbor E, and the GER a place if they wanted to come, but all declined. Neighbor E waited it out, and was eventually OK and enjoying his favorite hot chai lattes in his own kitchen again. The GER said he was helping out the “old ladies in the neighborhood who shouldn’t be living by themselves.” When I told Miss Alice, she said that he was “doing the work of the Buddha.” Well, he was, and people in his neighborhood are thankful.
Freeze East Of The Sabine
BF was at work that Monday morning and the freezing rain began about 10:00 am. We were up early–I started off with coffee and morning prayers and worked my way up.
We were out of dog food, and my plan was to visit Tractor Supply before the freezing rain got here. Well. . .first, the truck was literally frozen over.
I started the engine, but the thick coating of ice wasn’t budging. Just to get into the truck to start it, I had to crack the thick ice on the truck door handle.
BF had the same thing on the blue truck when he went to work earlier that morning.
The outside faucet was frozen over too, so I couldn’t get water without turning off the truck. Most of the water on the ground was also sleet or otherwise frozen. Everything was freezing up fast.
I thought I’d use the TS app to order curbside–but the app wouldn’t work for me. Getting to TS before their employees went home was not happening. BF ended up getting dog food at Piggly Wiggly on his way home before they closed up shop.
Then about 10:30 am, the power went out at the Casa de Rurale. That’s when I started chanting for all of us.
I made sure my phone was charged, plus the power banks we have were also charged. I was in touch with BF, Miss Alice, and Neighbor E by text, as well as the GER and Aunt Ruth by email. (Turns out the GER recently got himself an iPhone, and texts now. What’s this world coming to?)
I posted on Facebook and Instagram to let folks know what was going on. Well, everyone was in the freeze and doing the same thing. One of the Houston TV stations’ Facebook page mentioned lighting candles for warmth. So that was the first thing I did, putting them all on the dining room table. There is a flashlight or two in every room in the house, including one hanging next to my desk. But without power, candles are the way to go until you can find a way to generate heat. ALWAYS exercise caution with lit candles, especially with pets and/or children around.
BF got calls from the neighbors on both sides, asking if he had power. NO, but he knew about it from Entergy’s phone call and my texting. They worked until about 4 or 5, but BF went to Piggly Wiggly long before they closed and had everything ready for whenever they left the shop.
Pictures Of Winter
Meantime, I took a few pictures to enjoy:
This green ground-cover plant by the tree didn’t die in the freeze–and it was fine after the ice melted.
One lady posted this in the official Instant Pot group on Facebook:
If it works, it works! I did offer to put the slow cooker or IP on the generator, but BF said we didn’t need to. But I couldn’t leave this for the Instant Pot post.
This was also posted in the same group:
Others posted these, good now as well as later:
Plumbing problems? No, you don’t.
The GER said that a neighbor chased down a plumbing truck just to get a part to fix something. It was that bad in Houston for a while.
And for fun, Neighbor E sent me this one:
There will be a Shutterfly book at some point for all these pictures. We can look at them in the summer when it’s 90 degrees.
BF To The Rescue
Did I mention BF hates cold weather?
So while I was inside with the animals trying to stay warm and watching the temperature go down one degree at a time, I cut some fabric by the open window while there was still some daylight. I had another t-shirt under the sweater. BF told me not to worry–it would be fine once he got home. And it was.
You see, BF has been in this freeze situation before. For such a thing he has a gasoline-powered generator, as well as a camping stove that’s powered by bottled propane. From the minute he arrived and brought everything inside, he swung into action.
First, he went out to the shop and slid that generator across the ice-covered expanse of land, and set it up on the porch, running the cord in through the slightly opened front window. The cold air was kept out with a towel blocking off the opening. With four plugs available, two went to space heaters, one to light. We unplugged one thing to charge our phones, make coffee, whatever. We then went into town to fill up three or four jugs with petrol to keep the generator running.
If you’re a veg type, I’m sorry. People go deer hunting around these parts. Deer sausage happens both here and in Texas. In Houston, Neighbor J upstairs used to bring me deer sausage occasionally when he went to West Texas for hunting. The processors added too much jalapeno for him, but I thought it was delicious.
About a month before our epic winter storm, BF had the opportunity to buy some deer sausage from someone who was unemployed and made it for someone who refused to pay for it. I was a bit perplexed when he told me about buying so much, but I just found a place for it in the big freezer. We’ve had it several times since then.
Dinner By BF The Chef
On this night, our dinner was deer sausage and eggs:
I tease him sometimes that he cooks a little something and then prances around like he’s the French chef Escoffier. Teasing aside, shortly after this picture, we had a hot, freshly cooked keto-friendly dinner:
Light in the kitchen was from a big burly cordless Snap-On shop flashlight that’s to the left of him. It has a heavy, flat bottom so you can set it on a flat surface. The neck pivots up and down so you can get it in just the right place. I can’t find anything similar on either Snap-On’s website or Amazon to show you. There was still a bit of light from outside while he was cooking.
Our camp stove provided some heat, which was also helpful. But it should never be used as a sole heat source indoors.
Of course, BF was puffing his chest out a little, proud to take care of “The Little Woman” (me) in the harsh, cold winter days. He’s done this before and knew exactly what to do. I hugged him a little tighter and made sure I helped whenever he needed me. Miss Alice, The GER, Neighbor E, and Aunt Ruth all got a kick out of the picture, too.
Living And Waiting
BF connected a lamp to the generator so I could do evening prayers and cut more fabric. (I’ve got a huge bag of projects ready to sew now.) I chanted for everyone affected by the freeze, which is such a rare thing in this part of the US. Houston, Galveston, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and every place in between just don’t have that kind of weather very often. Most people aren’t prepared for it.
We had two space heaters in the house and ran them on the generator 24/7 until it was over. One of them was next to the dogs so they could stay warm as well.
In order to add more petrol to the generator to keep the heaters running, BF got up in the cold at 5:00 am, then went back to bed. He also ran the freezer and the refrigerator for a while on the generator to make sure everything stayed cold. Some folks reported putting their frozen foods outside–well, it is a freeze, after all–which technically works. But experts were also telling people it could be dangerous if the food thawed and froze again. We were OK.
The Java Cafe’
The next morning, I needed coffee. So I plugged the kettle into the generator and used a French press:
I also pulled down the old Krups cappuccino machine, which I bought in 2013 and rarely use.
We had milk, so I figured the freeze it was a great time to clean it up, try it again and read the manual, too.
I can’t say that it works any better than I remember, but I’ll just have to keep playing with it. I only used it because it plugs directly into the generator.
Thawing And The Return Of Power
Our little enclave finally had power again at about 5:30 pm on Tuesday, roughly 36 hours after it went down. We turned the heater way up, disconnected the generator, and got back to it. The dogs were just so unfazed, and the cat just stuck with BF any chance he got.
Large falling branches coated with ice broke the power lines, causing the outages. ALL the trees had a heavy coat of ice like the pecan tree. The local state DOT came around on Tuesday morning and pushed them off the roads so the utility folks could get through and fix the power lines. I went out for a walk and surveyed the road. I’ll add those pictures in a little photo book.
The next day, we were busy washing up the kitchen, laundry, and tidying up everything that we had to postpone during the freeze. Aunt Ruth said later that her kitchen was a bit of a mess, too. I couldn’t get any work done for two days, and I’m just now finally caught up, almost. No kidding.
A week later, it was 80F. No kidding.
More To Come
I made a delicious keto recipe last week. I liked it, he didn’t. But it’s fast and easy, and goes over well if you don’t mention “cauliflower rice” to anyone. The infamous Instant Pot post is way overdue and I think I’m just going to finish it up and publish it, with lots of backlinks.
Spring is here, and that means asparagus and other wonderful things, like basil and making pesto. Oh, I have about two years worth of pesto in the freezer, but there’s no saying I can’t make more.
We’ve tossed about the idea of trying to garden again, but I’m taking it with a pound of salt. I’ve still got some parsley to dig up, and I need to start getting basil plants soon. A full-fledged garden? We’ll see. BF now has an old Ford tractor he bought from someone nearby who doesn’t need it, so that will come in handy. . .IF we garden. Again, we’ll see.
In the meantime, Happy Dining!
Hubig’s Pies are coming back next year!
Only an hour after I published my July update post yesterday, I go into the living room and there’s a blip on the news about the return of the old New Orleans favorite, Hubig’s Pies. There is rejoicing in the land tonight.
I wrote about these iconic treats a few years ago, when I was still living in Houston. I think I was looking for something else to blog about. When I stopped traveling around Houston and trying different places, I struggled for new blog topics that were interesting. And, quite frankly, there were times when I just didn’t feel like writing anything.
But I couldn’t believe my luck–I knew I should have waited before I published, but I just wanted to get a quick update out.
Since 2012, people in Louisiana have patiently waited for the return of a beloved hand pie that was available about anywhere for 90 years. Their patience has finally paid off.
In a joint press release, Governor John Bel Edwards and Hubig’s owner Andrew Ramsey announced today that the company would resume producing the famed pies in a new facility in Jefferson Parish, not Orleans parish where the company lived for 90 years.
The State of Louisiana and the Parish of Jefferson offered multiple business incentives, that, apparently, Orleans Parish wouldn’t. But whatever–people are overjoyed, and who cares if they’re made in Jefferson Parish? They plan to use the same recipes, and not change anything, so that should ensure consistency and happiness again.
Not So Fast
However, they note that they don’t have a place yet, but they are working to get one, and get started. Mr. Ramsey was quoted as saying,
“I don’t have a facility yet. I don’t have a place where I can press a button and start making pies,” he said in an interview.
“This (loan guarantee) is a part of the puzzle to get the business back again,” he said. “Everything has been coming together; we’ve had a tremendous amount of support. But I don’t have a timeline yet.”
But after seven years of nothing, this is definitely good news.
The manufacturing equipment they need is going to be highly specialized, so that’s probably going to be their biggest hurdle. The factory will bring something like 30 jobs to the suburban parish, likely in Metairie or Kenner.
Side note: the Govna is from the area where I live. I’ve met a couple of his relatives because I happened to be in town, and BF introduced me. BF actually shook hands with him at a funeral a year or so ago, and went to school with a few of his relatives. The Gov lives here and commutes to Baton Rouge every day, something I thought I’d be doing when I interviewed at LSU in 2016.
There’s more information here in this news story.
What’s The Big Deal About Hubig’s?
In a state that doesn’t always value health and wellness, local food is one of those things that people hold onto and take very seriously.
The Hubig’s Pie affair is bigger than the Twinkies affair, because Hostess pretty much already had a buyer waiting going into bankruptcy court. But I’m sure Mr. Ramsey has been able to learn from the Twinkies re-set and will be working with new, more agile, manufacturing practices.
Things like king cakes and other regional favorites have become wide spread. As I mentioned originally (and probably a few other times), king cakes are available in bakeries in Texas, and New Orleans bakers ship the cakes nationally. Check your grocery store for “Louisiana” or “New Orleans” foodstuffs, and you’ll find things like Tabasco, Zatarain’s, and maybe even Tony Chachere’s spices. I bought a wide range of things at HEB in Houston, so I know they’re available elsewhere, and online if you know where to look.
But Hubig’s Pies didn’t really make it out of Louisiana. It’s just one of those regional favorites, like kolaches in Texas. They were just always available, in every grocery store, convenience store, truck stop, gas station, and everywhere snacks were sold in the region. When they went away, as I mentioned in the last post, people missed them terribly, and have been asking for them to come back ever since.
The Devotion To Hubig’s Pies
Ladies and Gentlemen, your patience will be rewarded next year. Hubig’s Pies will make Louisiana great again! (I’m sure that’s what they’ll say, anyway.) You’ll be able to buy them online, too. How about that?
This article on NOLA.com (full of garbled code written by a monkey, I presume) details all the ways people have kept the flame burning for Hubig’s Pies. One lady kept a blueberry Hubig’s in her freezer all these years as a souvenir. Another has one sealed up in a plastic freezer bag in her closet. (EEEWWW!!) And as you saw in the last blog post, Mardi Gras costumes abound for people who are waiting for their Hubig’s Pies to return.
There’s even a comment by the Governor himself, speaking at a campaign stop, about his love for the missing pies. I’m guessing he’ll be using that in his re-election platform. Well, let’s face it, wouldn’t you?
Let me reiterate, as stated the first time I wrote about Hubig’s Pies, that there is nothing healthy, sugar-free, or gluten-free about these things. They are, like a lot of Louisiana foods, primarily white flour, sugar, starches, and likely unhealthy oils. Enjoy at your own risk. . .because everyone else here will take that risk once they are being sold again.
I’ll have a small bite of BF’s, just to satisfy my curiosity.
The Divided Dinnertime
Last night was one of those nights where we ate from our “pre-relationship menus.” BF calls things like Hamburger Helper “the pre-Amy menu,” and I referred to the roast chicken leg quarter as one of my “favorite single-girl payday meals.” Because it is, like the perfectly cooked flat iron steak that’s sliced against the grain and laid on top of a crisp salad with lettuce, tomatoes (grape, please), sugar snap peas, maybe some avocado, and a quickly whisked dressing of EVOO and a raspberry vinegar. Oh, and a bit of Celtic of pink Himalayan sea salt to finish it.
I asked why he would make such a thing, and his response was, “Well, you’re always telling me how great Pea & Pesto Soup is, so you can have that tonight.” I found the chicken leg in the freezer next to the ground beef and claimed it as my own.
We’ve been doing that sometimes, when he feels that Hamburger Helper, or a frozen Swanson dinner is just the thing. I’m sticking to the healthiest things I can eat here, which occasionally involves something like rice, which I don’t normally consume. But if it makes him happy, oh, well.
BF and his twin brother are planning to make the pilgrimage this year to Hot Rod Magazine’s annual Drag Week. BF went last year with another of his “car guy” friends, but they were only gone a couple of days. This time, the twin mechanics are planning the entire week of smelling like the exotic scents of car exhaust, motor oil and transmission fluid, as well as eating at various local greasy spoons. For this red-haired foodie, it means:
- I will be alone and free to be myself for an entire week
- I can cook and eat whatever I want all week long without criticism, critiquing or fake retching
- This includes the absence of comments such as, “She’s tryin’ ta kill me!”
- I can watch my own TV and sew as much as I want
- I can invite over whomever I want, including, but not limited to
- BF’s brother’s wife and 5-year-old daughter
- “Car guy” girl JJ, and possibly her daughter if she’s interested
- Friends J&A who live a couple of miles away; A is one of BF’s collegues, and J is her boyfriend
- BF’s father who lives up the road (although he won’t come unless there’s an emergency)
- Anyone else who appreciates gourmet cooking and lives close enough or wants to drive up here
- Or nobody at all
I’m not planning a dinner party, although I probably could. But as I’ve told BF several times, I’m making plans for my “Drag Week Menu.” I’ll be cooking all manner of delicious, healthy food to enjoy while he’s across the country. The recipes may come from the new cookbooks I’ve bought, too. So what if he can’t say “Braciole?”
Remember when we went to Mr. Earl’s Barbecue? BF knows Mr. Earl from Drag Week, since he works on these kinds of cars at his shop outside of Baton Rouge. That New Year’s Eve gumbo fest and barbecue event is a yearly thing he does for all his “car guy” friends. (We missed it last year, maybe this year.)
Honestly, Drag Week is a networking event for petrolheads. BF knows so many people from Drag Week, I can’t tell them apart. But they have a great time, make new friends, meet up with old ones (supplemented by Facebook) and have fun while they’re there.
On a basic level, it’s like AWAI’s yearly copywriting Bootcamp. I streamed it live again this year, and I loved it all. But I do wish I could go in person next year. You never know, you might meet an automotive copywriter there!
Until Next Time
I plan on blogging again before too long, honest. Meantime, thanks to everyone who keeps reading my foodie-related rantings with SEO optimization.