Apocalypse Chow

“Eat what you store, store what you eat.”

“Know how to use your food storage.”

There are any number of cliches that accompany that stockpile of food sitting in your pantry (and under your beds, and in your closets, and anywhere else you can think to stow your food storage…).  And, like most people, I thought “I’ll just figure it out when I need to.”  Admittedly, not the brightest plan.

I do abide by the #1 rule of food storage, which is the: eat what you store, store what you eat law of common sense.  If the time comes where I have to rely on this stuff, I sure as heck don’t want to worry about whether I’m going to like what I have stored.  So when I say I’ll figure it out, that doesn’t mean I have to start from square one because I’m familiar with a lot of these items.  But a lot of my recipes contain more “freshies” than the canned and dehydrated foods that I have for the longer term or “emergency” storage (which can consist of anything from a lost paycheck to the unthinkable) – meaning there may, in fact, be a slight learning curve.  As I began to watch the cost of energy skyrocket and the cost of food steadily increase, I considered the residual effects of those increases, and my thought turned instead to “There’s no time like the present!”

A couple years ago I was browsing in a used bookstore in town, and came across a little book called Apocalypse Chow by Jon and Robin Robertson.  With a name like that, how could I resist?  So I picked it up for a couple dollars and stowed it in the kitchen with my other cookbooks and kitchen reference manuals.  The book came about after the authors experienced a hurricane, and the aftermath, which caused them to consider “how to eat well when the power goes out” (which is the subtitle of the book).  They are self-confessed foodies, so the book immediately interested me since I’m quite the food snob.  Every once in a while I pull it out and give it a quick peruse.  But recently I pulled it out and actually sat down on the couch with it.  There were some amazing sounding recipes inside, and they pretty much used nothing but canned and dried foods.  A few of them suggest using fresh onions or garlic if you have them available, but they’re not a necessary ingredient if all you have is canned, dehydrated or freeze dried.

Taking a closer look at the book helped prompt my “there’s no time like the present” train of thought.  I decided I would start working through the recipes that I thought sounded good to help give me a quick training session on using all these items taking up space on my shelves and help me rotate the goods so they don’t end up expiring, unused, on those same shelves. It was also a strategy to change up my diet.  We all get “bored” with the regular, everyday stuff we make night after night, week after week.  I’m certainly not immune to that boredom.

A couple weeks ago I tried the first recipe.  A spicy concoction of chick peas, potatoes and tomatoes with garlic, tarragon, basil and red pepper flakes.  Delicious! In fact, so much so that I’ve made it three times already.  Twice with 100% food storage, and once with 100% freshies (with the exception of the chick peas).  It’s quick and extremely tasty.  The original recipe called for savory, not tarragon – but I don’t have savory so I figured the tarragon was a good close second.  I can’t imagine it could be any yummier, even with the savory.

Tonight I decided to try recipe #2.  This one was billed as an “almost instant” black bean chili.  Two cans of black beans (drained and rinsed), a large can of salsa, a can of corn (drained), some dried minced onion and chili powder.  Now, I had to use fresh onion tonight because I don’t actually have dried minced onions in the spice cabinet, and I decided to add some Indian red hot chili powder on top of the regular chili powder for some extra heat.  And since I had some cheese in the fridge, I topped it off with some of that.  Once again: delicious!

In neither recipe have I changed much beyond adding an extra spice to each.  So, right out of the starting gate, these recipes are two for two awesome!

I’m so excited by the recipes in this book!  I’m really looking forward to the next experiment.  I’m sure I could make recipe #2 with freshies as well by making my own pico de gallo and adding some fresh corn in season.  So these recipes can easily be adapted regardless if you want to use nothing but canned or dehydrated foods, or if you want to go with all fresh.  And I do believe all of the recipes in the book are vegetarian.  Of course, meat is easy to add to any recipe if you wish.  But I’m happy as a clam with the vegetarian options since I just began eating meat again a couple years ago after a nearly 20 year run as a vegetarian.

So I guess the moral of this story is two fold:  first is to start using those cans in your food storage and learning what to do with them.  Second is that food storage dinners can taste absolutely amazing!  I’m a terribly picky eater, so for me to say that really means something.  🙂   I’m energized to see what else I can make using the food I already have on hand!

Next up:  seeing how I can make some of these recipes without using my regular kitchen stove.  🙂  Ahhhh, always a challenge on the horizon.

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