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Prairie Fare: Preparing Food During Power Outages

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Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist
A steady source of nutrition is critical to power ourselves, especially when we are waging a battle with the forces of nature.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

We had been warned to stock up on groceries because a blizzard was in the weather forecast, right in the middle of an epic flood. The grocery store was packed with people, all with well-earned weary expressions on their faces.

“Oh, no,” my husband said as we rounded the corner on our way home from the grocery store. My heart skipped a beat.

What next? I thought to myself. I half-expected to see water flowing down the street.

Instead, I saw an electric utility truck driving into our neighborhood. Some businesses already had lost power, according to radio reports. A couple of neighbors were standing on their doorsteps in front of darkened homes.

Thousands of electricity-powered sump pumps were keeping basements dry throughout the city. We also had a resurgence of winter, so we needed a source of power for our furnaces.

Were we ready for this latest episode in my home? We had battery backup sump pumps and a gas-powered portable generator to keep our furnace and refrigerator-freezer powered. We had several cases of drinking water in the event of water safety issues.

We also had a full tank of gas in case we needed to leave town.

Being prepared for disasters helps ease at least some of the stress of the unknown. Fortunately, the power issue was fixed quickly and we didn’t need to use our backup devices.

Our dependency on modern technology becomes pretty clear in times of disaster, regardless of the season. Power outages can occur almost any time during the year.

A steady source of nutrition is critical to power ourselves, too, especially when we are waging a battle with the forces of nature.

If you find yourself in a situation without power, consider these alternative cooking methods:

  • You can use charcoal or gas grills, but they cannot be used indoors. When used indoors, you risk asphyxiation from carbon monoxide and the chance of starting a fire that could destroy your home.
  • If you have access to a generator, you can use small electrical appliances, such as microwave ovens and toaster ovens, to prepare meals.
  • You can use a wood-burning fireplace as long as the chimney is sound. A wood-burning stove also can be used, but be sure the stovepipe has not been damaged.
  • Commercially canned foods, such as beans and stew, can be eaten without heating. Home-canned vegetables, however, should be cooked at least 10 minutes before eating.

If you find yourself without access to safe water and you do not have a backup supply, consider these tips:

  • You can save the liquid from canned vegetables and use it in cooked dishes.
  • You can drain and save the juices from canned fruit and substitute these for water in salads and beverages.
  • Minimize your use of dishes or use paper products to ease dishwashing needs. When possible, prepare and eat foods in their original containers.
  • If the safety of municipal water is questioned, follow local advisories. You may need to boil water 10 minutes before using it.

For more information about coping with the aftermath of floods, visit www.ext.nodak.edu and click on “Flood Information.” For more information about eating healthfully, visit www.ndsu.edu/eatsmart.

Try this easy “camping” recipe adapted from the Canned Food Alliance at www.mealtime.org.

South of the Border Sloppy Joe Bowls

1 1/4-pounds lean ground beef or turkey

1 (15.5-ounce) can sloppy joe sauce (or mild enchilada sauce)

1 c. canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 (7-ounce) can Mexican-style corn, drained

10 (6-inch) corn tortillas, heated according to package directions Shredded lettuce

1 large diced tomato

Brown meat and drain. Add the sloppy joe sauce, kidney beans and corn. Simmer about five minutes. To serve, place a tortilla in a small soup bowl and ladle one-half cup of the meat mixture in the center. Top with shredded lettuce and chopped tomato.

Makes 10 servings. Each serving has 200 calories, 3.5 grams (g) of fat, 26 g of carbohydrate, 5 g of fiber and 470 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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