Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Cooking by Candlelight

Ever since hurricane season started on June 1, it seems like there's been some disturbed area being watched by the National Hurricane Center. To be honest, some wet weather (but not a Tropical Storm or Hurricane) would be pretty welcome in our area right now. The Florida Panhandle is down about 8-inches below normal rainfall this year so far.

Today, I thought I'd talk about some things you might be able to cook without power. First, what resources do you have available?
  • Gas Grill? Be sure to have a tank or two of propane on hand before the storm hits.
  • Charcoal Grill? Pick up bags of charcoal and lighter fluid, and be sure you have some way to douse any stray sparks.
  • Natural gas range or oven? In my experience, gas service is usually still available after a hurricane, but of course, if the provider thinks that any lines were damaged or if your home sustains damage, the service may be turned off.
  • Camp stove? If you go camping, you may have something that runs off propane, solar power or batteries. Make sure you have the supplies you need to run the stove.
  • Bonfire? With all the downed trees, it's tempting to kill two birds with one stone and have a weinie roast over an open fire. The big danger is that if the fire gets out of control, firefighters may not be able to get to you and may not have the water pressure to fight it. If you have a way to contain the flames - say a sturdy metal barrel with a grate on top, you'll be safer that way. Set up your barrel at least 25 feet from any structures. If you don't have water running through your hose, have some water on hand (rainwater that's collected, a couple of bucketfuls from the bathtub), so you can make sure the ashes are wet through when you're done. Hot spots in dry ash can smoulder for days and any ember that flies out can set something on fire.
Never burn anything in your house. You wouldn't want to anyway, I'm sure, because of the heat and no air conditioning in the summer, but in addition to fire dangers, smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning can be deadly. Don't risk it.

It's a good plan to always think about the worst possible thing that could happen and how you will respond to it and prevent a worse catastrophe.

The benefit of having a way to cook, of course, is that the food in your freezer can be used instead of thrown away. If you can even just heat water, you can prepare instant foods like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, grits, oatmeal, soup, coffee, and more. It's a great way to vary your menu when you get to week two or three without electricity.

What do you like to eat when you don't have any power available?

No comments: