If you have ever watched late night “infomercials” then you have seen the latest and greatest when it comes to cookware. The big shopping networks also spend a tremendous amount of time trying to convince us that Wolfgang Puck and Emeril Lagasse know what we all need as far as cookware, utensils, and potholders go. After watching for a while, you may decide that this cooking business is way too expensive, so it’s back to take out’s and frozen entrees.
A previous article on cooking basics described some very simple recipes, and given how simple cooking really is for the most part your cookware and utensils can be simple as well.
Keep in mind, you want to learn how to cook now so you can eat when the SHTF, and what happens when the SHTF? No electricity, so your cooking essentials will get a workout, from wood flames to propane stoves to possible heat tabs and heating gels like Sterno. You need sturdy yet simple ones that can be used over a campfire or on a propane stove with an open flame.
If you have a good Dutch Oven then you can essentially use it like a frying pan, sauté pan, an oven, and even use it as a deep fryer. A Dutch oven is versatile and it is probably one of the most sensible things to have in today’s kitchen. It can bake bread and biscuits, make cakes, and fry a steak, or slow cook a tough brisket with potatoes. It can even boil water for vegetables and you can deep-fry anything by filling it with oil.
You may think you need a sauté pan, a stockpot for your crab boils, a 12 inch skillet a 16 inch skillet, a big saucepan and small one to cook a meal, but you don’t really need all of those. Do not need them unless you plan on opening a restaurant that serves gourmet meals every night.
A 12 or 16-inch cast iron skillet would come in handy, however, for steaks and fried potatoes, or for sweating your trinity (Mirepoix “meer-pwah”) of carrots, celery, and onions for stews and soups. Having a skillet you could grab instead of getting out the big Dutch oven may save you time on clean up, but the point is if you do not have a skillet, you will not starve if you have a Dutch oven or something similar that can take the heat of a campfire or propane stove.
Heavy welding gloves come in handy as potholders. The potholders you buy at Wal-Mart’s or at a similar store are not that good at protecting your hands, and they make grabbing a heavy pot awkward. This includes the silicon ones that claim they can withstand up to 500 hundred degrees. They do not work as well as they claim. Heavy welding gloves work better and you are less apt to lose them.
Stainless steel spatulas and several stainless steel tongs in various lengths are a must have as well. You may be reaching across flames so you want tongs and spatulas long enough to keep your hands away from the flames and heat. Use the tongs for deep-frying as well. They need to be sturdy without any plastic/silicon parts that are susceptible to high heat.
A quality meat thermometer is an essential and it will tell you when chicken and pork has reached a safe eating temperature. In other words, you can at a glance see that the internal temperature was high enough to kill any bacteria present.
If you like to deep fry, having a thermometer that can be placed in the oil is ideal. Cold oil means your food absorbs too much oil and will not cook and too hot of course, means burnt food and hot oil is a real fire hazard, so it is important that you know the temperature of the oil at all times. You can buy one specifically for deep-frying and often times they are used for candy making as well. A typical meat thermometer does not have the temperature range needed.
Long steel forks come in handy when cooking over an open flame. Usually you can buy a good set in the camping section of most stores. You can get creative and use them as spits for cooking link sausages, hot dogs and even cut up vegetables over an open flame. Small fish can be laid across the tongs for cooking over heat or flame as well. You will have to prop them up well unless you plan on squatting over the flame holding the fork.
The list of what you want for cooking is long, while the list of what you need to survival cook is short. You have to set priorities. Your standard of living will go down during a crisis, but you still want to be able to provide a hot meal for yourself and family. Hot food is more than nutrients that will give you energy and keep you alive it is psychological as well.
Food gives people a reason, gives them something to look forward too. It is a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos of a crisis. The devastating impact of not having enough or the right kind cannot be emphasized enough.
Of course, having food means you need to know how to cook, which is the entire point of these articles, so do not shrug, and say you will figure it out when the time comes. When the ball drops the time for prepping and planning is over, if you do not have it or know how to do it now, you won’t have it or know what you need to know when the SHTF.
Plan and prepare now, so you can survive later.