BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked

Failing at Preparedness

49 Comments

Blame it on an intoxicating emotional cocktail of stress, fear, and hunger, but there are no two ways around it: I deserve a big fat “F” in storm readiness. Like most people in the tri-state area, my time before Super Storm Sandy hit was spent frantically stocking up on food, gasoline, and low-tech entertainment like library books (remember those archaic things?) in case the hurricane truly was as bad as threatened. Furiously running at full capacity to not lose my shit in the middle of a swamped grocery store, my overloaded brain failed to consider each purchase in a truly rational light. Canned goods were fantastic, soups and dried meals could be heated over the gas range, but the double dip on washed, bagged greens? The attractively priced frozen puff pastry? The full case of almond milk Greek yogurt? Hate to ruin the suspense, but those hasty acquisitions proved poor purchases in short time.

Even without power, I held out hope that it would be a quick recovery. Wires came down right at the end of our sparsely populated dead end street and the damage was extensive, but we had been relatively lucky in past disasters. Keeping fridge and freezer doors tightly shut, it should have been easy to wait it out and return to normal life in no time. Days turned into the darkest nights imaginable, back into overcast days, rinse and repeat. The kitchen remained silent, without the comforting hum of appliances or crackling radiators. All that was left was the awful wind, whipping more gently now, but just as cruelly as ever.

Like a sick magic trick, those delicate, frilly salad greens transformed into a murky sludge pooling at the bottom of the bag. Many of the other well-meaning but badly executed purchases met similar fates; never before had I seen such a kaleidoscope of mold on a single cut lemon. With nothing left to cook, little that anyone cared to eat, and the days growing increasingly frigid, it was time to abandon ship.

Near the end of the nightmare, as temperatures dipped below freezing, we sought shelter with our incredibly generous, hospitable extended family a few towns away. Easily the best outcome of a bad situation, things certainly felt far less desperate when wrapped in a cloak of warm air, bright light, and wifi. There aren’t words enough to express just how grateful I am that they would unhesitatingly take in all four of us girls (myself, my sister, my mom, and my Isis.) Instead of fumbling through awkward and insufficient “thank you’s,” it was best to manifest that sentiment into something edible, of course.

Dangerously ripe bananas sitting on the counter were the catalyst, further fleshed out by available ingredients and the need for low-impact prep work in an unfamiliar kitchen. Fully enmeshed in all things pie thanks to the upcoming cookbook, that shallow glass pan was the first thing that made sense in so many painful days.

Bananas and chocolate, uncomplicated and unfussy, there would have been no recipe nor record if not for the rave reviews. Silky ganache lightened by the fruity accents and brightened with a light sprinkle of sea salt to finish, it seemed unremarkable at first, but now will never be forgotten. In fact, considering how the whole experience has forced us all to reevaluate the meaning of being thankful, I have a feeling that this may become our family’s new Thanksgiving pie for many years to come.

Frankenstorm Pie (AKA Banana Ganache Pie)

Graham Cracker Crust:

1 1/2 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs (About 12 Full Rectangle Sheets)
6 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine, Melted

Banana Ganache Filling:

4 Medium-Sized Ripe Bananas
3 Tablespoons Light Agave Nectar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Non-Dairy Margarine
2 Cups (12 Ounces) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 Cup Vanilla or Plain Non-Dairy Milk

Coarse Sea Salt

To make the crust, break up the graham crackers into smaller pieces before pulsing in a food processor until very finely ground. The resulting crumbs should be about the consistency of coarse almond meal. Pick out any larger pieces and re-process as needed.

Drizzle the melted margarine into the crumbs, and stir thoroughly to moisten the ground cookies. The mixture should be capable of sticking together when pressed.

Transfer the mix to a 9-inch round pie pan, and use lightly moistened fingers to firmly press it down on the bottom and along the sides. Use the bottom of a flat measuring cup or drinking glass for smoother edges.

For the filling, toss the peeled bananas into the food processor or blender, and thoroughly puree along with the agave and vanilla. Meanwhile, place the margarine, chocolate chips, and non-dairy milk in a microwave-safe dish and heat for about 1 minute. Stir well to smooth out the mixture and allow any remaining chips to fully melt. Reheat at intervals of 20 seconds if necessary, stirring well after each one.

Transfer the melted chocolate into the blender or food processor, and puree once more to fully integrate. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary to ensure that everything is incorporated. Once completely smooth, pour the filling into your prepared crust, smooth out the top, and sprinkle very lightly with a pinch of coarse sea salt.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving, or until set.

Makes 8 – 10 Servings

Printable Recipe

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Author: Hannah Kaminsky

Author of My Sweet Vegan, Vegan Desserts, Vegan a la Mode, and Easy as Vegan Pie.

49 thoughts on “Failing at Preparedness

  1. Glad to hear you and the rest of the family made it through the storm without too much damage! Best get the cupboards restocked with cans of emergency rations with the added benefit of hindsight!

  2. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Hope everything is getting back to normal for you..

  3. I can’t even imagine it all – and that you found the energy to bake! I am glad you are safe and the pie looks amazing!

  4. Great post Hannah! I really enjoyed it and am glad you have good family to help you stay safe and warm. How lucky they are to be hosts to someone who could whip up a pie which looks as delicious as this one!

  5. Sorry you lost some food but I’m glad everyone was safe. Philly was not hit as hard as forecasted, thank goodness, but our NYC and NJ-shore neighbors were devastated. Hannah, besides your wonderful recipes and photos. you are SUCH an excellent writer– you woman of many talents, you! Brava :)

  6. I have read blog post after blog post exactly like this one…people racing to get prepared and realising that preparation physically isn’t the worst of it…the long days spent bored and not working within your normal parameters were incredibly hard to bare. I read one shining beacon in it all…a lady who ferments her own food who turned all of her perishables into ferments out on her countertop…kimchi…kefir (both drinking and cheese)…a variety of wines and other ferments and all of them able to be supported on her countertop without refrigeration. What an eye opener? I really got something from her blog and I am getting something from yours! What a magnificent pie! That looks like a delicious and most hopeful end to Hurricane Sandy. She may have wreaked her own devastation on the east coast but she couldn’t take your spirit or your ingenuity with making something delicious out of the remnants. I salute you hurricane survivors and how resilient you are showing yourselves to be. There are no fails if you come out the other end having learned something important because the ONLY way to learn is to fail :)

    • So, so smart… I really should have tried preserving/fermenting more! Honestly, I was just afraid to open my fridge at all for the first few days, hoping that I might save any remaining cold air, because who could have guessed that the power would be out for a whole week? By the time I gave in, it was just too late to salvage much. At least I did have the foresight to dehydrate some fruits and vegetables… Just not enough, apparently.

  7. How comforting to wake up from a nightmare in such a kind place. Glad all you lost was food and time, and hope the newest storm isn’t causing a repeat of a bad situation. Take care.

  8. Glad you made it through okay! The pie recipe looks wonderful! Chocolate and bananas were meant to go together.

  9. I’m so glad you and your family are ok, Hannah. I wish you didn’t have to go through that nightmare.
    P.S. The pie looks and sounds fantasmic.

  10. What a delicious end to a horrible ordeal. I know how terrible it was, but at least we are all pulling through, even through this new snow storm!

  11. So glad to hear you are okay and somewhere warm with family. If it makes you feel any better, I would totally do the same at the grocery store before a storm. I would stock up on all the wrong things! Hope you get power back soon!

  12. Our younger daughter is in art school in Philly but nothing much happened there (thankfully.) Friends’ house in Cape May is miraculously untouched; s-i-l in Brooklyn also fine and never even lost power. However, friends in NJ are either still without power, just got power back or got power back but found their basement flooded from broken pipes. So much misery and destruction!! Even here in Cleveland we were assaulted by high winds and driving rain, making a week of non-stop rain when it was all over. There are some people here without power still. But Staten Island and other places are still suffering. Hard to be so far away and unable to help directly.

    On the bright side, your recipe sounds wonderful and I’m so happy you and yours are fine.

  13. So glad you and your family are ok and that you are somewhere welcoming while your town recovers. Hope the power is back on soon, I’ve been keeping up with the news from way over here in Australia and it breaks my heart what has happened. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  14. Thank god you and your family are safe my friend, unpreparedness is big at all under your circumstances!
    I still can’t believe you whipped up such a gorgeous pie :)

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  15. Aw, Hannah! I hope things get back in shape quickly, I know how frustrating it can be when you are hungry and cold and quick to bicker after days spent together under tense situations. This pie looks lovely! Ganache is such a magical thing.
    I remember two winters ago when we stuck in Snowpocalypse making no bake chocolate peanut butter cookies in a dark kitchen lit by a single candle. I used the gas range to melt the peanut butter and cocoa and then stuck the cookies on the snow outside to cool.

  16. My heart goes out to you and your family, and wraps it in the most sincere wishes for a brightening of your days, brightening in all sorts of ways.

  17. Glad to hear you are ok now,after that ordeal.Hope everything returns into normal as soon as possible.And that pie,oh yummy!

  18. Oh my goodness this sounds amazing and love the pictures!

  19. Glad to hear you and your family made it through relatively unscathed! I definitely would have made the same mistake and would have purchased silly items. I hope everything gets back to normal for you soon!

    You definitely know how to make the best of a situation though- that pie is gorgeous!

  20. Well you certainly do know how to make the best of a bad situation! You are right, with chocolate and bananas you just cannot go wrong.
    So pleased to hear your family came together in such a frightening, unnerving situation.
    And yes, sounds like a wonderful new thankgiving tradition, the pie that is, NOT the storm!

  21. edible thank yous are certainly the best kind!

    J

  22. Love the way you described the pie, you’re making me drool! I’m glad you and your family are safe! Take care!

  23. Love the storm inspired pie. Glad to hear you and your family were ok in the end. x

  24. The biggest, warmest, wish-I-could-have-swept-you-away-myself hug, hugs, hugsbeyondhugs. Love you and proud of you for getting through this. Head up and keep facing the world with courage and joy, other me. xoxo

  25. Ah girl!!! I bought some poor choice items too right before the storm but fortunately my power never went out. I’m so sorry for all you’ve had to go through my dear!! But I’m glad to see you channeled all of your frustrations into this pie. Delicious!!

  26. Oh, I’m so glad you and your loved ones are okay. If I ever had to make a mad dash to prepare for a disaster I’d probably only end up thinking of my kittes and stocking up on food for them. It amazes me that amid all the chaos you were still able to make something so yummy!

  27. I love your Frankenstorm pie! Out of all that chaos and upheaval comes your beautiful pie. We can use a candle to melt the chocolate, a rolling pin to crush the crackers and put the pie outside in the snow to set. A brilliant use of an unplugged kitchen. Your fore-bearers would be proud.

  28. Everything you make looks so delicious and so simple, it’s amazing! I’m glad that you and your family are okay and were able to make the best out of what you could, plus that you had a warm place. We didn’t get hit as badly being in the midwest but I’ve been through a similar situation with summer tornados, yeesh.

  29. oh Hannah, what a mess! I’m so sorry you’ve been so affected by nasty Sandy. I hope things slowly start inching back to normal. MANY years ago, we had a huge earthquake in my community, and so I feel that I really know that weird feeling of suspended time and reality that can last for weeks or even months… I’ll be thinking of you. And I’m glad you’ve got family and Isis and chocolate pie to help you through.

  30. What a nightmarish situation to go through! At least you guys had somewhere to go. And on the plus side, if there’s ever another natural disaster like this you’ll probably have better pantry stocking skillz. :) Not the happiest plus side, but there it is. Also, that ganache-y pie looks great – anything with chocolate chips tends to steal my heart. :)

  31. i am so glad to hear you all are doing ok. the pie looks so deliciously soft and fantastic. we has a snow storm last year and most of the suburbs lost power. so we and another one of our friends hosted 18 people between us in our tiny downtown homes. the living room was converted into one large sleeping area:)

  32. That pie looks delicious and I’m glad to hear that you & your family are okay even if the greens didn’t survive!

  33. I’m just glad to hear that ou are okay! I didn’t even think that you would be in the line of fire with that storm. Hopefully you are nestled back home very soon :)

  34. You are a wonder woman…to have the stamina to bake! You’re amazing as is this sweet pie!

  35. Wow, I’m so glad you and your family made it to somewhere warm and dry (and with power, and– last but not least– a working kitchen!).

    I’ve been stressed following the news of Sandy’s havoc from afar, since my grandparents (on the 26th floor of their apartment building) were basically trapped without elevators, power, or water for nearly 48 hours, but at least they finally got their power back already, and it’s nothing like living through something like that myself… All the best wishes for things getting back to normal as much as possible for your family, friends, and neighborhood!

    That pie looks and sounds amazingggggg…

    • That would be so scary! Being without power is one thing, but to be trapped in a high rise… They are much braver than I to make it through such an ordeal with grace. I hope they’re doing okay now, and things are mostly back to normal. It’s so strange and horrible to imagine that there are -still- some people out there without electricity…

      • Yes, it is horrible to imagine that… my grandparents are doing fine now (thank goodness), but apparently there are 7 different floors in their building that are still without power! (And I know that’s still true for a lot of other people in nyc, too!) I’m hoping everyone there is being extra helpful and neighborly to each other.

  36. All’s well, when it ends well… and you found a way to sweeten the situation, even when things weren’t looking so great. I guess it’s the power of chocolate :)

  37. I’m so grateful you’re safe and sound, despite the harrowing storm and the damage it caused. In the middle of natural disaster, it’s nice to see you were able to create comfort in the form of pie.

  38. Really glad your ok and had such a warm welcome through the storm. Making lovely food is the best way to show gratitude! X

  39. That recipe looks easy enough. I will definitely have to try this for Thanksgiving. I’m sure I can convince my family to eat vegan along with me! Thanks for the great post and nice work riding out the storm.

  40. Glad to hear that you are okay and made it through unharmed. At least this pie will be a happy memory in the midst of everything else that was dismal.

  41. Even though storms like this bring such devastation, they also have a way of bringing out the best in humanity, don’t they? I’m so happy you and your family were able to take shelter someplace safe and warm.

    And your pie looks wonderful!

  42. I’m sorry you had to go through that, Hannah. It really does sound like a nightmare. I’m glad you are well. I’m sure everybody appreciated the lovely pie. Food truly does offer comfort, doesn’t it? I would want you around in a storm. ;)

  43. I made the pie! I only had three ripe bananas in the house, so I added about 3 big tablespoons of creamy, unsalted peanut butter to make up for the extra banana. Very easy, very delish! I shared the pie with friends. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  44. Pingback: Who eat all the pies? New Year, New Recipe. « Is this how you do it?

  45. Pingback: Bittersweet's Banana Ganache Pie | Killer Bunnies, Inc

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