Monday, June 16, 2008

Make Sure the "Stuff" in Your Cupboard Is Edible

Make sure the “stuff” in your cupboards can be made edible – or it won’t do anyone any good!

In this blog let’s discuss a few ideas that will pertain to the foods portion of your pantry. As you learn more about Preparedness Possibilities you may discover foods that perhaps you have heard of before but not thought about in a preparedness perspective. Or you may find foods that you had considered preparedness foods but not thought of in an every day perspective. That definitely does not mean that your foods should be limited to wheat, dry milk and honey.

Just remember, it does very little good to have shelves full of “good for you foods,” if you have no idea how to prepare them so that you and the members of your household will eat them. It’s not only discouraging, it’s a waste of hard earned money. The main goal is for you to realize that you must be able to make the “stuff” in your cupboard edible. This is especially true during different and difficult situations such as the aftermath of a severe storm.

I firmly believe that two of the basic food groups in the pantry have got to be chocolate and chocolate covered raisins! There, we are over that hurdle. Now let’s look at some ideas to transform the dark recesses of a “storage pantry” into a place where you have the security of knowing that what you fix will be eaten and enjoyed. The term “convenience food” may well be what makes it a “survival food.”

Consider keeping on hand a supply of packaged seasonings, sauces and “fixings” that will expand the recipe potential and variety for staple foods. A gallon jar or Rubbermaid-type storage container will hold a good-sized variety of packets in the cupboard. The protection of a solid container will allow for a longer shelf life than just setting the packets on a cupboard shelf where bugs, rodents and moisture can cause rapid deterioration. Once your pantry holds a variety of these seasoning packets you can quickly create simple meals with such staples as grains and beans.

Look at your regular recipe books with “emergency cooking” in mind. You can substitute almost any grain in any recipe that calls for regular rice (not instant rice). Take the time now to analyze how simple it is to re-make casserole or soup recipes with the products you have on hand. Don’t be afraid to experiment and play with your food, in spite of what your mother may have told you. Exchange beans for different beans, vegetables with different vegetables, and so on. Just use what you have, using the seasonings and flavors you normally use.

In “Les-power, Les-fuel” situations think ahead early in the day, or the night before, to ensure food preparation successes rather than food preparation disasters. When using an emergency stove to prepare another food, place a pan with water in it close to the side of it or on a spare burner. Allow the water to get as warm as possible from the heat generated by the burners, or the fire, that is in use. You should expect the water to get “warm,” not necessarily hot. Using that warmed water, soak grains or beans longer than you normally might. Do not rinse the grains in this instance. Use the soaking water to cook with. In a “crunch” situation this will lessen the amount of fuel and water required for food preparation. Or use the thermos method to prepare grains or pasta for cooking to economize on fuel and water.

Keep in mind, it is not food-storage! It is the principle of keeping the foods properly so that you can eat them when you need to. That may be a new concept to some of you … “eat your food-storage?” Have you been thinking it has been bad enough to have to store it, now Barbara is saying I have to eat it? Good grief, what are things coming to!

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