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How to Survive the [blank] Apocalypse for Foodies

soup can 5-3-09 IMG_3506

photo by stevendepolo via flickr

Living on a sailboat in the tropics teaches a person many things: “tradewinds” does not mean 15 knots from the east all the time, stingrays are amazingly cuddly and eating food from stores doesn’t have to be awful.

We’ve been living in a special kind of future for the past couple of weeks — there’s no grocery store but there is broadband internet.  It’s a tough call whether the reverse would be preferable.  But there it is.  Due to a combination of events, we’ve been kind of stuck here, so I’ve gotten lots of recent practice with cooking from stores.

We keep a good amount of canned food and other stuff that lasts on board, exactly because of situations like this.  Even in places where there are supplies, sometimes the weather doesn’t let us get ashore or the shops themselves are out of things (the great Labasa butter shortage of ‘11, for example).  So I know how to manage on not much. Here’s how a reasonable supply of emergency food can be made palatable:

  1. Add a decent dried herb and spice collection to your Oh God, It’s The Zombies food horde.  A can of tomatoes, a can of beans, some onions and garlic aren’t much on their own, but with some nice curry powder, it’s a feast.  And it’s a proven fact that zombies hate the smell of curry.
  2. Making bread isn’t that hard.  So long as your yeast is alive and you have an oven, homemade bread will keep you going.  And PB and J tastes a million times better on warm, fresh bread.
  3. Couscous or bulghur beats rice any day when water or cooking fuel is scarce.  Both absorb less water and cook faster than rice, plus you can just chuck them in the sauce of your stew (see #1).  In a pinch, couscous can even be prepared with cold water, which works fine for your tabbuli salad (just add parsley and mint from your spice cabinet).
  4. Beans.  Pre-cooked protein and hours of entertainment after the meal.
  5. Lots of food can be kept unrefrigerated and therefore used in the direst of apocalyptic situations.  Eggs, most condiments, pickles, onions, potatoes, many cheeses, bread, peanut butter and jam all will last in a milk crate or backpack while fleeing the torch-wielding neighbours.  And if an egg does go off, it makes a decent projectile weapon.

So when you’re supplying to wait out some kind of catastrophe, you don’t have to live on hardtack or Clif Bars.  Just remember to bring bowls and spoons along with your shovel and towel.

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