Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cooking Up a Storm

Life in Louisiana brings with it an extra season to the year...hurricane season.  From June to November we always keep an eye on the tropics.  We don't panic, but we like to be prepared.  A big part of that preparation is "What are we gonna eat?"  Down here we're always thinking about food, and hurricane season is no exception.  Having lived through several storms, most recently Hurricane Isaac, I've had to cook for family and friends, with no electricity, for extended periods of time.  I've learned a few tricks along the way.

If you have a gas stove, you can cook even if the power is out, on the stove top, not the oven.  But, a cast iron skillet on the stove top can do a lot of things.  If you have an electric stove, obviously it won't work without power.  But, you can use your outdoor grill, one with a side burner is especially great.  A gas or charcoal grill can be a big help when you're looking at a week without power.  There's only so much canned soup and crackers you can tolerate!

The first thing I try to do is use up any meat from the freezer before it goes bad.  I hate to waste food and that can be the biggest waste of all (you didn't even get to cook it)!  Grill it outdoors or fry it in a skillet on your gas stove top.  Another way to cook it is to braise it.  Using a big pot with a well-fitting lid, brown the meat(season it first), then add a little liquid (water or canned broth).  Bring it to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer.    Let it simmer a good long time (go play monopoly with your kids) until tender.  Serve it over rice or pasta (again - things you can cook on a stove top).

Here's a recipe for a bread you can make on the stove top:


2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil

Combine all ingredients with a fork.  Do not over mix.  With floured hands, gently knead.  Oil a cast iron skillet and set over medium heat.  Put dough into skillet.  Cook 7-8 minutes until browned in spots.  Lift it out onto a plate.  Flip it into skillet and cook the other side 5-6 minutes or until cooked.  Transfer to a plate.  Cut it into wedges.  Serve with butter.

The kids want the waffles that are defrosting in the freezer,  but no electricity = no toaster.  Use a cast iron skillet (or any heavy skillet that holds heat well) as a toaster.  Heat it up then lay the waffles in the dry skillet (no oil).  Let them heat, flipping often, and they'll toast up nicely.

Make breakfast foods for supper (or lunch).  Make omelets with whatever you have in the fridge (before it goes bad!)  Make french toast (use up that day old bread and eggs).

Make grilled cheese sandwiches to go with that canned soup!

Your grill can act as an oven.  Bake frozen pizzas (if you have them in your freezer, you need to use them) on the grill (just close the lid and it will be an oven).  Just be careful not to get your grill too hot or it can burn the crust.

You can also, make foil packets to put on the grill.  For example:  Lay out a sheet of aluminum foil.  Put a piece of fish in the center.  Season the fish with whatever you like (salt/pepper/cajun seasoning).  Add a slice of lemon on top then drizzle with a little oil.  Fold up the foil and seal to form a packet.  Put it on the grill and let it cook (the steam will cook the fish).  You can also do this with veggies for a side dish.

So, those are just a few ideas that you can use when the power is out.  I pray another hurricane never comes our way, but if it does I know what I'll be up a storm.

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