Hacks from my Happy Place – X

As promised in an earlier post, this post is intended to give you some suggestions on how to prepare your kitchen if you live anywhere where winter can be – and often is – a big white beast!

If you live in an area which is prone to power outages during storms, here are some important hints for you:

#1) If you don’t already have one, buy yourself a manual can opener.

#2) For less than $25, you can buy yourself a sterno stove and several cans of sterno. These can be found in any sporting goods store in the camping section, and can also be purchased online. I suggest you buy a stove that allows you to place a pot/pan on top. And for fun, cook hotdogs over the flame from a can of sterno – just like camping!

#3) Stock up on canned goods (you can because you have a manual can opener!). Tuna is good to have on hand. There are other canned meats available as well. A wide variety of soups are out there! Things like non-refrigerated pudding cups, applesauce cups and fruit cups are good to have on-hand to satisfy a sweet tooth.

#4) Did you know that you can freeze milk? Well, you can! Just remember that you need to empty some of the container first due to expansion when it freezes. Also, milk thaws very slowly, so I tend to buy a few pints from a convenience store to put in my freezer. Lunchmeat and cheese also freeze well.

#5) If you don’t already have one, invest in a cooler. If you lose electric for many hours or days, just put your frozen foods in the cooler and sit it outside!

#6) If you are a coffeeholic like me, life changes drastically when you can’t have a cup due to a power outage. Now is the time to buy a box of single-use coffee bags (they look and act like tea bags). I also have a steel thermos, which, if I suspect a power outage, I will fill with boiling water. Now, I’ll be honest, this stuff isn’t nearly as good as fresh-brewed coffee, but even bad coffee is better than no coffee, right?

#7) You won’t want to be opening and closing the refrigerator door more than necessary. Be prepared by having, on hand, a bunch of condiment packages for things like mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. These little packages don’t need refrigeration and they are handy for making sandwiches, etc., even tuna salad (which again, you can make because you have a manual can opener!).

#8) The joke that goes around Pennsylvania, where I live, is that, at the first sight of a snowflake, there is a mad dash to store to buy milk and bread. A little trick to keep bread fresh longer, without getting moldy, is to put a stalk of celery in the bag with the loaf of bread. Celery tends to dry out, and it will ‘suck up’ the moisture in the bread so that it doesn’t go moldy! (Me? I live alone and it takes me a good while to go through a loaf of bread, so mine goes into the fridge when I bring it home.)

#9) Make sure you have paper plates, paper bowls and some plastic utensils on hand. Whether you have a dishwasher or wash your dishes by hand, no hot water means they can’t be washed. No one wants to look at a growing pile of dirty dishes filling the sink! This is also true for hot and cold drinking cups.

Though I know it’s not really true, a part of me wants to believe that being fully prepared plays into reverse psychology with Mother Nature – you know, like carrying an umbrella to keep it from raining. I’d prefer to be prepared for a disaster that never happens than to be unprepared when it does happen. Think of these ideas as insurance!