Pots of preparedness

Posted on February 23, 2014


So there I was working on my Errands List when ny cellphone muttered.  Neighbor Nannette was calling to say that she had acquired the flowerpot we needed for an important scientific experiment–and that she was going to make Reuben sandwiches for supper. Would I care to . . . ?  I believe I was knocking at her door before she finished her invitation. I waste no time when excellent treats are in the offing. But first, our experiment.

Nannette had been following an internet phenomenon about a handy emergency heater made from tealights and flowerpots. I know, I was dubious myself, but NN was not willing to let go of the idea without experimentation. We live in an area prone to winter power outages. Besides, even when we have power we are always on the lookout for frugal heat sources.  Do you have any idea what propane costs this winter?  I digress.

When I arrived, the materials for our experiment were assembled.

Materials for scientific heating experiment

The idea is to put the tealights in the bread pan, light them . . .

Lighting the tealights

set one flower pot over them to absorb the heat, adding that metal washer to keep the heat from dissipating before it warms the pot . . .

Emergency heating device - stage 1

and finally adding the larger flower pot over the first one in order to make a sort of chimney.  Voila.

Emergency heating device - stage 2

This is supposed to generate enough heat to warm a small room, or at least enough to keep a person from actually freezing to death before the power is restored.  If you examine that last photo closely you may note evidence that wine was involved. This probably explains a lot.

While we Awaited Developments, we turned our attention to the construction of the Reuben sandwiches.  Butter rye bread slices on both sides, stack cheese, sauerkraut and slices of Nannette’s own corned beef brisket on top, cover with another slice of buttered rye, and grill until nicely browned – about the length of time it takes to have a little glass of wine.

Assembling a proper Reuben Sandwich

Reuben Sandwiches perfectly grilled

We ate the sandwiches (which pair nicely with coleslaw, should you be the sort of person who likes to matchmake for your food), drank more wine, discussed the major issues of the day, and then checked the heat output of the emergency heating device. Nannette believes it may have promise. I believe that at most it might heat the space under my desk – which would be a plus, as sometimes my toes get cold while I work.  It might also be a minus, as I am both restless and forgetful, and I would truly hate to set my beloved wool slippers on fire.

Nannette and I are in complete agreement as to the excellence of Reuben sandwiches on a cold day.  This is the nice thing about having good neighbors.  A person can almost always find areas of common interest.  I have some more suggestions for winter preparedness, too.

  • Almost anything by Sharyn McCrumb, but particularly her ballad series, her NASCAR books, and, um, Bimbos & Zombies
  • A couple of good dogs, or a brace of heater cats, according to preference and availability
  • Lemon ginger herbal tea
  • Wool socks.  You cannot go wrong with really good wool socks.