So now, our biggest challenges are:
- No frozen or refrigerated goods in the grocery stores (so no milk, eggs, meat, salad greens, raw vegetables, or bougie yogurts)
- No gas (they were out before the storm, and now the gas lines are literally miles long)
- Not sure if my office exists anymore and can't get to Manhattan anyway since all the trains are down and there is no gas in the car
- HOW WILL I GET BACK TO BROOKLYN TO VOTE FOR OBAMA ON TUESDAY?
Luckily, I'm obsessed with pantries thanks to my mother's Tupperware wonderland kitchen that always has the ingredients for cookie making on hand at all times, so we've developed some hacks. Here's what we've got twerkin:
- Hot Cocoa Mix. Before the storm, I made a hot cocoa mix by combining an organic vanilla pudding packet , a canister of powdered goat's milk, cocoa powder, and sugar. (I'd list the ratios here but I've had to keep adding and mixing to get it to taste right.) I've taken to putting this in my coffee since there's no milk or half and half around. I tried to do Coffeemate but it was fucking disgusting.
- Winter Squash, Various Kinds of Potato, Onions, and Garlic. Any Little House on the Prairie enthusiast knows that these guys keep for months in your root cellar. Most of us with apartments don't necessarily have a spot that will keep them at the optimal 50 degrees and dry temperature required to make them last all winter, but it should get us through this period. Since we have electricity, we roasted four spaghetti squash, one turban squash, and one red kuri squash yesterday at 375 together for about an hour (and roasted the seeds separately). If you've got a generator that allows you to use the oven for a short period of time, you could cram it full of squash, potatoes, and sweet potatoes to roast to get the most out of the space. You could also grill these or cook them over a fire if you don't have a generator.
This allows for a couple different meal options. We've got cans of crushed tomatoes and pesto I froze over the growing season to put on the spaghetti squash. I've got cans of coconut milk, red curry paste, and some ginger root to make into a squash soup. And the sweet potatoes are earmarked for roasting, for sweet potato casserole, and for sweet potato meatloaf using the remaining ground beef in our freezer (it's technically for Donut but since he's got dry food as well he'll have to do without grassfed beef for the time being, which I guarantee he will be prissy about). You can also use winter squash puree in recipes that call for pumpkin puree- I wanted to make pumpkin pancakes but I'm trying to save up my remaining three eggs so I'm not sure if this will happen or not.
All of these foods, combined with onions and garlic, have leftover parts that can be made into soup stock. I'll be doing this in my slow cooker, but you just need a pot, water, and a heat source for this, so you can probably manage this over a fire if necessary. I'll be using the stock to make minestrone soup and to rehydrate dried beans.
- Dried Beans. I have to admit that I'm not the world's largest bean enthusiast. I often find them boring and as a meat eater I'm not as dependent on them as my vegetarian friends so I can generally get by without them. But, since there isn't any meat to be acquired, beans it is.
I've always stocked a somewhat excessive quantity of dried beans considering my feelings towards them, but all the homesteading books recommend this so I have a decent supply. I soaked some kidney beans yesterday and cooked them last night in the slow cooker with the last of my frozen soup stock and the bottom of my box of red wine, plus a bunch of garlic and herbs. I'm going to put some in minestrone soup, some I'll make into hummus, and I guess I'll try to make refried beans or something with the rest?
I'll probably also try to sprout some dried chickpeas I have. This involves rinsing them, soaking them in water, and letting them hang out in a jar covered with cheesecloth, rerinsing them once or twice a day.
- Dried Grains. We've got pasta, quinoa, oats, barley, and couscous. The last four can all be made into breakfast porridge-type joints by adding nuts and a sweetener, or an approximation of tabbouleh with whatever mixture of vegetables and herbs you have access to. And they can all go in soup, or get mixed with some form of tomatoes or pesto or whatever weird mixture of olive oil, nuts, and herbs/vegetables you have lying around. (I'll probably make a sundried tomato pesto later.) You can also sprout quinoa the way you sprout beans.
- Seitan. If you can get to a grocery store to buy a bag of wheat gluten (or if you're really up for some work, whole wheat flour), and you can access a heat source to boil water, you can make your own seitan and have just a very nice fake meat party for yourself. It's really just a mixture of wheat gluten (which is in the speciality flour section) and water or stock with spices. In the past, I mixed the wheat gluten with chicken stock in the bread machine because I was lazy and didn't want to knead it myself, and then I cooked it by covering the resulting dough in more stock in the slow cooker and letting it cook on low overnight. If you have no power, you can knead the dough yourself (and you can technically start with whole wheat flour, although it takes several rinses and a lot more kneading) and boil it in a pot of water. It's not quite the same as the vegetarian duck you'd get at a Thai place, but it's weirdly kind of good. I threw some in with vegetables I was brazing in boxed wine because I am fancy as shit, and you can also stir fry it, barbecue it, or use it in other applications you'd use cut up meat for.
- Citrus. Fairway still had citrus because they're tougher than blackberries and the like that go bad fairly quickly at room temperature. These will keep for a few weeks in the crisper of your refrigerator, but if your power is out, they'll keep at room temperature for a week. I'm thinking about zesting and drying the peels or maybe making preserved lemons to cook with, but we'll see how motivated I get. For now, I'm just glad to have a raw fruit around.
- Apples and Pears. I'm so blown because I went apple picking with my family last weekend just to see how excessively New England we could be, but I couldn't carry the applesauce I made home with me because it would have been too heavy. If you can get apples and pears, they can keep well for a long time given the right conditions. Unlike squash, they're ideally stored at around 35 degrees, in a moist environment. Potatoes release a gas that makes apples spoil faster, so they shouldn't be stored near each other. You probably don't need to store them for the whole winter, so if you can keep them in the crisper in the fridge with a damp paper towel, whether your fridge is working or not, you should be able to have them around for awhile.
- Various Oils, Butters, Milks. Now- I'd be lying if I said vegan things don't make me anxious. The word "earth" is basically always in the name and the ersatz version of a delicious thing you're accustomed to is always going to be weird. But coconut milk and coconut oil are actually better than milk and butter if, you know, you want something to be coconut flavored, and you can do both sweet and savory applications with them, all without requiring refrigeration. And my mom has successfully subbed half the butter in cookies (and this is "successful" according to my fat ass standards) with pumpkin puree and applesauce- you could easily use coconut oil or organic vegetable shortening in place of the rest of the butter.
There's also apple butter and other fruit butters that don't have any fat in them. While I've generally just eaten apple butter on toast, there's a surprising amount you can do with it, like making the base for meat sauces and glazes, squash soups, pie fillings, and weird cheddar and ham sandwiches.
So those are my hustles for now...hopefully the Netflix I access via Melissa's password holds up. Stay safe out there gang!