If you have an electric stove, preparing a decent meal can be a challenge when the power’s out, especially at night – which, in Ohio, can seem to start around noon during the winter months. Pre-packaged ready-to-eat meals can serve as emergency rations and, while usually less than gourmet in quality, can be viewed as “adventure food” by those with the right attitude. Sporting goods stores that specialize in backpacking sell a variety of vacuum-packed foods that need little or no preparation and are packed with nutrients. Less tasty but packing more style points, are military MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat). These long-lasting, long-chewing survival sacks are filled to brimming with tasty items like “Beef Pattie” or “Beef Diced with Gravy,” and each rugged pack also contains myriad other treats like Wheat Snack Bread and Sour Fruit Flavored Discs – all fortified with minerals and vitamins, of course. Along with essentials like salt and pepper and tiny rolls of toilet tissue (for the inevitable purging of Wheat Snack Bread), MREs also come with water-catalyzed heating pouches, so warfighters and the power-less alike can enjoy a (relatively) hot meal anywhere.
Cooking with Fire
If you feel like taking an entirely different kind of culinary risk, portable stoves powered with butane are another option, albeit a slightly more dangerous one. Butane is a compressed-bottle fuel that can be purchased online but is more cheaply found at Asian supermarkets. Not all camp or portable stoves use butane, so make sure you talk to an expert before making your purchase.
Butane is the fuel most often used by caterers to power their mobile kitchens, but burning fuel inside a home is always inherently dangerous, and risks include everything from voiding your insurance to carbon monoxide poisoning or burning down your house while trying to cook in the dark (remember, most lamps are powered by electricity, too).
So know what you are getting into: if you are going to use a portable stove inside your home, make sure to have a carbon monoxide tester nearby, keep the stove on a level, stable surface, and use it just for cooking – NOT for heating the house. Cook your food, boil your water, and turn the stove off as soon as possible.