It’s coming, sooner than we’d hoped but just about on schedule, really. The powers that be at the weather center are predicting a Polar Vortex in the next 48 hours. Montana is expected to reach a low of -9 while places in the Midwest, including Minnesota, are expecting a foot of snow by Tuesday. If you’re from other parts of the country and you’re not sure how to prepare for a Minnesota winter (because that’s what’s being predicted for half the country – at least for the next week, but not MN because we won’t see the grass again until late April or early May) listen up because I’m going to tell you all you need to know to survive a Minnesota Winter.
Basically you’ll need to focus on these three areas – Warmth, Snow Removal and Sustenance – to survive a Minnesota winter.
Get your furnace checked now. Ideally you should have had it checked a lot sooner but that’s ok, in Minnesota we wait until after the first snow fall to do most of our winter preparedness but then winter lasts 8 and 3/4s months around here so basically we’re always ready. Change your filters, clean the air vents or bleed the radiators if you’re lucky enough to have them.
To keep the warmth in your home you’ll need to make sure your home is sealed up tight. That means 3M Window Film, though in MN we call it 3M Window Tape because you tape the film to the window and 3M makes tape, Scotch Tape, just FYI. There are all kinds of copycat window sealing kits at the hardware store and they cost considerably less than the 3M version but they never work as well and no one in Minnesota buys non 3M products. I don’t even know why they stock the other brands, probably for out of towners who don’t know better.
What you wear when you are outside is also important. In Minnesota we don’t don our coats and boots until the first snowfall. The temperature doesn’t matter, if there is no snow on the ground you’ll see people wearing shorts and flip flops. Once the first flakes fly we pull out our Carhartts, or puffy down jackets and Sorel boots. We don’t usually bother with scarves or ear muffs until January and then only while ice fishing on a windy lake. Mittens and gloves are important but often forgotten or lost.
In Minnesota we’ve actually had winters with little snow. The winter of 1983-84 we had just 14.2 inches of snow but usually we get upwards of about 50 inches each year. That’s a lot of snow to move and if you don’t have a decent shovel, a couple of college kids to remove it or a working snowblower you’re not going to survive the winters of Minnesota. You need a way to get from your house to your garage (if you live in the city where the garages are unattached) or you’ll need a way to clear your driveway (if your garage is attached to the house). No matter where your garage is you’re going to have to move the snow off of it and that means work.
Minnesotans develop a nice layer of subcutaneous fat, usually acquired at Friday fish fries, taco Tuesdays and Booyas. While we my have larger asses than folks in other states we have some pretty buff forearms and biceps from moving all that snow. You’ll often hear of 89 year old ladies beating off would be muggers with their bare hands because we have such great upper body strength due to all the snow removal.
If you want to survive a Minnesota winter you’re going to have to stock your pantry with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, tuna fish, canned green beans and French’s Fried Onions because you’re going to be eating Hot Dish for the next 6 or 7 months. Don’t worry, you won’t be eating Tuna Hot Dish forever, just until the day after Thanksgiving when you can switch out the tuna with turkey and eat turkey hot dish until Christmas/Hanukah when you can use those leftovers to get you through New Year’s when you switch back to tuna. See Tuna Hot Dish recipe below.
That’s really all it takes to survive a Minnesota winter. You might be wondering what it is we do all winter long, what keeps us entertained. Why haven’t I included any tips of entertainment? We’re too busy removing snow, preparing to remove snow or talking about removing snow to do much of anything else. Thankfully hockey season lasts all year long.
Tuna Hot Dish Recipe
1 can tuna
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
Half a box of cooked elbow macaroni
French’s Fried Onions
Mix tuna, soup and cooked noodles in oven safe casserole, cook at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove hot dish and sprinkle the French’s Fried Onions on top and return to oven for another 15 minutes or until onions are golden.
Optional ingredients for non Minnesotans who want some flavor in their food:
Half a cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onions or you can substitute with French’s Fried Onions
1/2 cup frozen peas
And here is the original Campell’s recipe though I caution you because it calls for pimientos and that’s just too extreme for Minnesotans.