Monday, December 8, 2008

Goodies To Get You Through The Dark and Dreay NIghts or Days

Winter wonderland may now mean that everyone in the land is wondering whether or not there will be power if and when the next storm hits. Or may be it won’t be considered a storm – per se - just the wolf huffing and puffing enough to make the electricity in your light bulbs disappear. When we combine that with the terrors or challenges, depending on your perspective, of the winter that we have to face, in addition to the lack of power, it can appear to be a dismal situation.

Since Power Outages and Energy Crises are still on everyone’s mind, lurking behind the economic downturns, let’s do something positive about them. If we have to be without power for any length of time it might be a good thing to help one another get through it with a little snack here and there to boost morale. And of course you will have made a hard copy of recipes and ideas to keep on a shelf or in your notebook in preparation for just such a time. Another positive to this is that you will have an activity designed to occupy your time instead of just sitting and/or being bored.

I mentioned this in the last blog, but in today’s blog we are looking at it more from the preparedness point of view than the budget point of view. Oh yes, it’s the same kind of planning, right? M&M’s, Snickers and Reeses in their holiday packaging and colors will be drastically marked down. The holiday version – even if it is just the packaging – of pretzels, party mixes and nuts, bought at a bargain price will keep for a while in good container. This means for longer shelf life you may want to remove them from the cellophane or cardboard containers into a glass jar. They should then easily have a shelf life of several months. The pretzels and party mixes could be “crisped” in a low oven on a cookie sheet if they begin to go stale. Chocolate may turn white after a few months of storage, but it does not affect its flavor. (Yay) Candies or mixes with nuts in them will not keep as long as others because of the problems with bugs and rancidity.

Snacks and treat recipes that require little or no cooking may provide a few solutions. Following are a couple for you to try. They may seem familiar, but the circumstances in which you “cook” them will definitely be different.

Crispy Squares
¼ C margarine, butter or coconut oil
One-10oz Pkg. or 40 regular marshmallows, or 4 C mini-marshmallows
5 C crisped rice

Melt margarine over a low heat and add marshmallows. Stir until melted and cook approximately 3 minutes. Add crisped rice and stir well. Press into a greased 11" x 13" pan. If using your hands to press the mixture into the pan, grease or oil your hands and remember the mixture will be extremely hot.

Note if you prepare this during a power outage: If using an emergency cooking stove, such as a butane or Sterno stove, one suggestion to save emergency fuel, is to put the pan with the marshmallows in it on the stove itself, next to the heat source, stirring or turning in order to maximize the heat. The warmth from the flame or burner being used to cook with will most likely be sufficient to melt the marshmallows and then require shorter time on the actual burner.

No Bake Cookies
2 C sugar 3 C rolled oats
1 cube margarine or butter ¼ C cocoa
½ C milk (reconstituted works) 1 tsp. Vanilla
Optional: ½ to 1 C nuts, or raisins, or coconut

Mix sugar, margarine and milk together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil for one minute. Stir in oats, cocoa, vanilla and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls on waxed paper or aluminum foil, or a cookie sheet.

Of course you can always make Smores in a heavy frying pan, with a lid, over a Sterno or butane stove. Or if you have a fireplace that is working, use it.

Always plan, think ahead and build safety into this kind of situation. You want to have a positive activity in a difficult time, but it will be different from ordinary cooking on an ordinary stove. Practice sessions will prove to be a very good thing.

Return to the Neighborhood