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Eating Well After the Quake

A Flashlight Aided Study (of My Food Pantry)

Okay, gang, here’s a little perspective on long-range planning. What food would you want on your shelves if an emergency took out your electric stove, your refrigerator and your microwave? In my canning cupboard, deep in the basement, I pull out my battery-powered flashlight. Cans of pears, peaches and beans shine out at me, but also, I see rows of dishes that aren’t often used, and little figurines that once belonged to my mother. I know what I don’t want to see in here – cans of USDA Approved School-Lunch Spinach. Sorry, Pop-eye, but your taste runs to tin. I also don’t want to be picking canned food out of shards of pottery and china. I need to store the dishes and figurines somewhere away from our emergency food supply. That’s a clear job for my half-hour* of weekly house cleaning.

Lots of glass vases and glasses stored in the canning cupboard -- not a good idea.
Note to self: Move these heritage glass pieces away from food storage.

My friends, what’s in your storage supply? What will your family really eat after the emergency. How will you cook it?

Ideas from two family foodies Our sisters, Tammy and Marilyn, have been teasing me about getting ready for the earthquake. Yes, they were among those who received a water barrel and pump for Christmas. I asked if each family would like to have the water barrels. Tammy and Marilyn were delighted with the idea. So their teasing is not passive aggression. It’s just having fun with my project.For my birthday, Marilyn and Tammy invested in a sack full of canned goods they believed I should have.

A Book Discovery In addition, I received a cookbook about eating well after the power goes out. Marilyn, volunteers at Title Wave – the resale store for the Multnomah County Library. When she saw the title Apocalypse Chow, she could not pass it up. It seemed the perfect book to add to their joking around about my plans for family survival. The book turns out to be a great addition to the project.

Apocalypse Chow is written by Jon Robertson, with Robin Robertson. It was published in 2005 by Simon Spotlight Entertainment, of Simon and Schuster. Yes, that’s Jon, writer and publisher, and Robin the chef of Global Vegan Kitchen. Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add a lot of homey character and clarity to the book.** It turns out that the Robertsons live in Virginia, so have survived several hurricanes, some with more grace and pre-planning than others. Collecting all they have learned about survival and grace in this 246 page volume, Jon has written a very usable and often funny book encouraging the rest of us to plan to have food we will be able to cook with minimal fuel and water. He also encourages us to take a good look at our eating preferences and our snobberies as we shop for the staples we will use in the AFTERS. Buy what your family will eat with pleasure because there will be a lot of other things to cause angst. Apocalypse Chow contains some surprising lists, including several that encourage the family chef to visit various ethnic markets and stock up on great, non-perishable items. These change-of-pace foods will keep the family from becoming jaded on Boston Baked Beans. Grilling and boiling tips, storage ideas and a cast of 15 minute recipes are featured in Jon Robertson’s readable, humorous and important book. Apocalypse Chow is available new and used. I have ordered five more copies (yes the sisters will be getting a copy for a birthday or half-birthday***, as well. You will enjoy it, too. And its lists, if heeded, will give you a better survival kit than the basics list that Homeland Security might have recommended.


*Half-hour a week house cleaning? I am my mother’s daughter and learned efficiency from her. Best house-cleaning tip she gave me? Take off your glasses. To the nearsighted, the clean and the unclean fuzz into soft color and fine texture. ** Tanja Thorjussen’s drawings add clarity? Thanks, Tanya for clarity on what Jon meant by a wine box to use for food storage. We at RichenHaus buy wine by the bottle and were therefore imagining an empty wine-party box. Jon had in mind a wooden container for twelve one litre bottles to use for storage. ***Half birthdays? Well, any excuse to give something important to those I love.


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