Friday, July 19, 2013

Emergency Preparedness: Cooking

It's all very fine and good for you to have stored all that dried food, but how will you cook it?  It is smart to keep a good supply of foods that don't require cooking, but research shows that people in emergency situations will not eat enough food if it is unfamiliar or unpalatable.  Cooking a meal once a day or every other day will ensure that an adequate amount of food is consumed and will improve your family's morale.

I have a gas grill with a side burner that I can wheel into the garage if a storm is going to hit.  With it I have two full containers of propane on hand.  This is an easy way to grill or cook in a skillet.

Baking is another issue.  It is difficult to get good results on a grill.  Fry bread and flat breads can be done in a skillet or directly on the grill, but traditional quick breads would be difficult.

Also, slow cooked meals such as stews or soups would use up a large amount of propane.  A good option for baking, stews and soups is a solar cooker.

You can buy solar cookers, but they are pricey and this type of cooker can be made at home.  There are instructions for more complex cookers at Mother Earth News and other homesteading sites, but there is a very simple cooker that you can make.  Involve your children and make it an educational experience (plus it's fun).

You will need two boxes; one should be small enough to fit into the larger one.  Paint the outside of the larger box a flat black and line the inside of the lid flaps with foil (shiny side out).  Remove the lid flaps from the smaller box and line the inside with foil.  Lay insulation in the bottom of the large box, then fit the smaller box into it.  Now insulate the areas between the small and large box (you can even use newspaper for this).  Scrounge up a piece of transparent plexiglass or glass to lay over the top of the small box when you are cooking.

When you are using the solar cooker you should use black cookware.  Simply paint the outside of thrift store pans a flat black.  Tilt the cooker to face the sun by propping it with a brick or piece of wood and adjust the box flaps to direct the sun's heat toward the pans.  Adjust as necessary during the cooking process.

How long it will take for your baked goods to cook will depend on where you live, time of year and the weather conditions.  Just visually check them for doneness.  Don't keep opening the lid.  Stews and soups can just be kept in the cooker all day.

I think this would be a great homeschool project.  Some people dust off their solar cookers to use during the summer to keep their homes from heating up from the oven.  Versatile and so easy.

God bless,

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