Saturday, August 6, 2016

Things Could Always Be Worse -- a Foodie Prepping Primer?

It seems like every time I start canning season, I also begin thinking of emergency preparedness. I'm not a Collapse of Western Civilization kind of gal, but I am most certainly a 7.0 Earthquake kind of gal, having lived through two of those suckers in my lifetime.

And so I reasonably ask myself at times like these if I'd be happy eating the stores I've canned and/or put up on my shelves. If the power was off for, say, two weeks or so due to a large quake, assuming we are well enough to have an appetite, the question then becomes 1) do we have enough food to survive, and 2) exactly how much fun would it be to eat what we've put up? 

Relishing (left) the apocalypse.

These are the only two questions that matter if you and your loved ones are in a disaster and are already safe, with a good source of water and shelter from the weather. It will come down to food. Doesn't it always? Whether it's a housewarming party or the End of The World As We Know It, that's what you will remember about the party when it's all said and done. So even at the conclusion of the future Earthquake Party, the question will be: What did we have to eat?

If you remember Jim Bakker, the preacher involved in some juicy evangelical sex scandal in the 1980s (with a wife who could not keep her mascara from fleeing the scene of her badly made-up eyes), he basically disappeared. Or so I thought. The other day I was channel surfing and found him, now hawking survival food supply kits on QVC. "It's our $99.99 Special 20-year Survivalist Package featuring MEXICAN food!" he extols. 

While I find him strangely amusing, there's one thing he and I agree on....just because the world ends, it doesn't mean Taco Tuesdays have to.

Anyway, I don't count what's in my chest freezer at all in my accounting of foodstuffs, since chances are it would be warm enough that within a few days anything we cannot consume immediately will spoil. This means for the first three days we'll be eating nothing but steak, ham and chicken. (Note to self: stock up on emergency, End Of The World-strength laxatives.) But ultimately, the safest and longest-lasting emergency source of food lies not in the freezer, but rather in the canning cupboard and the pantry selves.

I can make this delicious.
Rice, beans, quinoa,  various pastas and grains would probably become our staples, along with flour for making bread.  Beans would be especially important since lacking refrigeration, we'd also probably be lacking in animal protein after our chest freezer binge-feast (belch), except for fresh eggs. Since I'm mostly vegetarian, I would be OK here, and everyone else would have to be too. 

But the issue then becomes how to dress up all those beans and grains so that they are tasty, or at least interesting, since they'll probably be eaten two or even three times daily (perhaps with some canned salmon or tuna, which I've also put by). People in this situation always say something like well, things could always be worse, but really, I can't think of anything much worse than having to eat rice, beans and quinoa for two weeks straight. 

Of course having a good stock of wine, beer and other alcohol could help immensely, so that should also be at the top of any emergency preparedness food list in my opinion. Everything tastes better with expensive alcohol to wash it down.

But I think having a good stock of spices, jams/chutneys, relishes, and little gourmet items will ultimately make your family's life livable during times of crisis, as much as warm blankets and shelter do. You need to be able to dress up your staple ingredients with flavors, textures and surprises to keep those Lord of The Flies instincts at bay and keep civilization afloat. Sauces, sprinkles, marinades, aoli and other spreads (we have chickens and oil and therefore eggs and therefore aoli -- yum!). 

For me, I would plan on cooking everything in the solar oven (which even works on cloudy days, things just take longer to cook) or on the grill, and so that gives me lots of options for different tastes and textures as well.

Everyone should have one.

I do not plan on eating squirrel or gopher in stews, or insects, or nearby neighbors. That is not my kind of disaster. But vegetarian paella with canned mushrooms, peas and asparagus with some hard-boiled deviled eggs on the side, a fruit galette for dessert and some '10 Cabernet to accompany it all? I could live with that. 

I am sure there is a survivalist cookbook out there, but I like to see myself as a kind of a "San Andreas meets Ina Garten"-type heroine, creating lovely meals for my family spontaneously and cheerily, while the tremors rumble through, the stucco falls off in sheets and the National Guard personnel carriers pass by the road.

It's Bon Appetite at the end of the world, baby. And I feel fine.


  1. Make sure you text me your phone know, just in case :-D

    1. After the first couple of bottles I'm pretty sure you'll be able to hear us from your place lol, so come on by!

  2. Well you know how much I love a good stockpile and A+ for diversity in color and flavors. It's funny how-at least for me-I end up burning through my pantry and freezer at the most unexpected times. Though I will admit I rely way more on my freezers than pantry. I really should get back into canning. Mainly just because I think all the food looks so pretty in the jars!

    1. I think it's good to burn through your stockpile, since then you have the perfect excuse to replace stuff with fresher goods. I have one big ham in the freezer that's something like 5 years old and I keep waiting for the right time to thaw and cook it. I'm just not a ham person. Hopefully I can give it to some invading hordes passing through or something when The Big One hits CA lol.