Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter / Emergency Preps, Food Prep

Well, so much for blogging every day this week.  I did, however, get a few things done that I’d been procrastinating on.  My tooth had been bothering me and Moonshine has been acting really mopey for the past week.  So I finally rescheduled my dentist appointment (I am terrified of going to the dentist) and got Moonshine into the vet.  Both appointments went well; it looks like I do NOT have to have a root canal (at least not in the immediate future) and Moonshine seems to just have a case of the “sniffles”.
I’m finally back to blogging today so here we go:
Food prep during power outages
Ok, so let’s say the power has been out for 24 hours and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be coming back on for a while longer.  Best case is that you’ve got a generator to keep your fridge / freezers going so the contents keep frozen or cooled.  Worst case is that you’ve just purchased a side of beef & you DON’T have the means to keep it frozen.  If you’re “lucky” enough to live in the frozen tundra of the Northern States and it’s winter, you could keep the meat frozen just by storing it outside (and hopefully away from other hungry critters).  You could also buy ice or dry ice to keep the contents cool, assuming you can get to the store, but even dry ice isn’t going to keep your frozen foods cold enough for an extended period of time…..not to mention it’s going to get expensive. If you’re solely dependent on the grid to keep your frozen foods frozen, then you’ve got a problem.
Do you have canning supplies on hand?  Do you have a pressure canner?  Do you have the means to actually heat up the canner (wood cookstove or propane / gas range)?  And even if you do have all these things, do you know how to properly can?  This isn’t the ideal time to learn.  But you do what you have to do.  Read the instruction booklet from your pressure canner (you DID keep that, didn’t you???) and follow them exactly.  Don’t take any short-cuts; they may end up costing you both time and the food you canned if they didn’t seal properly.  Not to mention that you could get violently ill if you ate improperly canned foods.  
I’m not going to get into the mechanics of canning / preserving food in this blog, but I will soon.  Or not so soon.  But eventually.  Anyhow…..
Ok, let’s pretend that we don’t have to worry about frozen foods spoiling and your most pressing item is getting the family fed.  You can only eat so many PB&J’s (assuming you’ve already made / bought bread) and sardines on crackers.  If you’ve got propane / gas fuel to your stove, lucky you!  Your cooking routine shouldn’t be much different.  BUT make sure that the stove can light without electricity; most modern appliances have an electric ignition.  We don’t have a gas stove (yet!) so we’re dependent on the wood stove, the two-burner Coleman camp stove and the gas grill to warm up or cook our meals.
Now THIS would have come in handy during the Ice Storm.  But as of today, it sits idly in our basement, awaiting the building of the "Outdoor Kitchen".

If you’ve been a good prepper, you’ve got plenty of homemade or store-bought “ready to eat” meals stocked on your pantry shelves that would require only “heat’n & eat’n”.  This would include dry pasta, dry beans, rice, oatmeal & other cereal grains, canned meats (venison, chicken, tuna, etc.), canned veggies & soup.  I also like to keep tofu in those little shelf-stable cartons on hand.   As much as I like to avoid most pre-packaged foods, they are good to have in your preps as they are a quick & easy meal and very helpful when the younger ones want something to eat NOW!!!  
Rhiannon's favorite pantry section.....the PB&J shelf!

Things like Tuna Helper, Spaghetti-O’s (ick, ick, ick!!) and Ramen Noodles (add some canned chicken & veggies to them & they aren’t that bad).  I’m sure there are a dizzying array of other items at the grocery store, although my mind is a blank right now (imagine that).  Miracle Whip in small jars (because you’ll have to keep them cool after opening) would be useful for tuna & chicken salad sandwiches.  Personally, I can’t stand the stuff, but some people actually prefer M.W. over real or store Mayo. 
Oooo……Mayo Story:  A few years ago my sister called asking about a recipe that had M.W. in it.  She didn’t have any & wanted to know if she could use something else.  When I told her that you could actually make mayonayse, there was a dead silence on the other end of the phone.  I don’t recall what she ended up using.  Although I have to admit, if you’ve never made it or didn’t know what the ingredients were (for the homemade stuff), the store product does seem kind’a weird.  Weird as in it could have only been concocted in some distant food laboratory with lots of unpronouncable chemicals and people walking around with clip boards donning white lab coats.
Anyhow.  Assuming you’ve got some shelf-stable, dry or canned vittles around, let’s get back to how we’re going to cook.  At Krazo acres, that would be on the camp stove, the grill or the wood stove.  Seems like an easy task, but I really missed my oven.  No baked goods!   So we had a lot of one-pot meals.  Here are a few of the things I made during our power outages:
Homemade Chicken or Tuna Helper:  Cooked Egg Noodles (or any type of pasta), canned chicken or tuna, Cream of Chicken soup (or mushroom soup if you’re using tuna), milk (powered or fresh from the goats), canned veggies, S&P to taste. 
Chili w/Johnny Cakes:  One can Chili Beans, one can Red Beans (or black, pinto, etc.), one can Diced Tomatoes & Chilies, one can tomato sauce (or tomato paste & 1/3 c. water).  Dump all into pot & heat up.  For the Johnny Cakes, just take a Jiffy Mix & add extra milk to make it like pancake batter & cook on greased pan like thick pancakes.
Chicken & Dumplings:   Canned Chicken.  Dumplings  (1 c. flour, ½ tsp. salt, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, ½ c. milk, 2 Tbsp. oil.  Mix into soft dough & drop into boiling water or broth until done), Easy Gravy (2 c. chicken broth, add flour/water mixture to broth, heat & stir until thick.  Add pepper to taste).
Chicken & Rice:  Canned chicken, one can Cream of Chicken Soup, one can water or milk, 1 ½ cans instant rice.  Heat up soup & water / milk, add instant rice & cook over low/medium heat.  When rice is tender, add chunks of chicken & heat. 
Spaghetti: Or any type of pasta w/sauce. 
Fried Green Beans.  Not the deep-fried kind, although I suppose you could try with the canned beans.  Two cans green beans, oil, butter or better yet, bacon grease.  Fry up with some garlic & onions (or add powdered garlic or onions), S&P to taste. 
Breakfast & Lunch is pretty easy.  Oatmeal, grits, eggs (if your chickens are laying), pancakes.  Soup with crackers or croutons, Sandwiches & leftovers for Lunches.
We are definitely not picky eaters so our previous power-outage fiasco didn’t leave us hungry by any means.  It may be a little different with Rhiannon around now.  But she would probably be quite happy eating spaghetti or PB&J’s all day.
Hopefully my rambling has made you re-think, remind or prompt you to go over the items in your pantry.  I know I’m going to have a look-see in ours. 
Oh, by the way.  I was able to make cookies AND Pizza during the power outage.  Cookies on top of the wood stove with a cake pan "oven" on top of them and a Pizza on the grill.  Both turned out pretty good.
Next topic.....Water.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe later.  But eventually.  Really.

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