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Author Topic: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......  (Read 3252 times)

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"Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« on: October 29, 2012, 04:51:02 PM »
My thoughts are with those of you who are in the thick of the storm.  Be careful and take care of yourselves.

We live well away from the worst of the storm, but we may lose power for an extended period.  I foolishly bought a large roast yesterday, and  it will be too windy to grill the thing if I can't use the crockpot.

I remembered something about pioneer cooking in one pot, and that is what I'm going to do if our power goes out.  We have a gas stove with burners that can be lit with a match, so they are usable without power.

Pioneers used to keep a large pot of food cooking at all times.  I realized recently that one reason why they did this was probably because they had no refrigeration, at least for much of the year.  Something that is kept simmering can't spoil, right?

If our power goes off I'm going to take the fresh meat from the fridge and put it on the stove in the biggest, heaviest pot of water that I have.  After it simmers for awhile I'm going to add the fresh veggies to cook.

 As stuff in the freezer gets slushy, or after we eat some of the stew, I'll try adding more meat and frozen vegetables.  I'm going to keep adding water as it simmers away and especially at bedtime, and keep the stew simmering day and night.

This probably sounds like a bizarre idea, but it might work.  The forecasters certainly have painted a scary picture.

There must be other ways to cook interesting things on a burner, or in a fireplace, too.  I bet that some of you campers have some good ideas. 

Who else has a camping or old time recipe/idea that just might work for us during the storm?


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2012, 05:37:18 PM »
Well I do know that the longer you soak rice in cold water, the less time it takes to cook.  So if I put the rice into soak in the morning, it just takes a few minates at dinner time.


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2012, 05:39:34 PM »
Sounds like the old fashioned soup pot - which also had bones, vegetable peelings, leftovers, gravy, and any other odds & ends tossed into it over the years as it simmered endlessly on the back of the stove (or the corner of the fireplace, if it was before the cook stove)!
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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2012, 07:03:45 PM »
There's always penny stoves, which I do think you need to use in a well-ventilated area.

Pot-au-feu/perpetual stew is always kind of fun, and is safe as long as it is kept at a certain temperature, I'd guess between 140 and 160 degrees F. (I usually use a crockpot because I am a bit paranoid about my gas stove.)

Another fun thing is hobo packets, if you have a grill/fire. Put your veggies and meat on a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil, top with spices and a bit of butter or oil, fold the edges, and grill away! It stays very moist. You could google for more detailed directions, but I usually just put whatever is available in the packets.
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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 07:23:17 AM »
You can also make a version of a slow cooker. The best solution for most people is to take a big old pot with some sand or something at the bottom. Then put your heated up pot with food inside that. Then put insulating materials around it. It'll keep it hot for hours and cook.
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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2012, 08:31:06 PM »
I appreciate all of your interesting replies, ehellers.  I was really nervous and concerned about the forecast, and then we had only a bit of rain and wind.  We were so lucky!  I feel so badly for all of those who were hit so hard by the storm.  What a terrible mess there is to clean up!

Next time I make rice, amandaelizabeth, I'm going to soak it for awhile!  That's a clever idea.

VorFemme, you sound like the health author Adele Davis.  She said to keep every scrap of peelings and meat to make stock.  Once I was in a farm kitchen, and the farmer's wife told me that they had managed to pay off their farm in only 5 years.  As she was telling her story she was crushing the bones of a picked bare turkey carcass to make soup.  Her thrift made a big impression on me.

Thanks for taking the time to google this, Amara.  It hadn't occurred to me to do this, and the articles were interesting.  I had no idea that bulgur could be used for salad with just soaking, and no cooking.  That would be especially nice on hot summer days.

Cat-Fu, I had never heard the term "penny stoves" before.  It would be nice to have several on hand for unexpected situations.  If I had started the stewpot I would have been sure to keep it simmering - we are lucky to have a gas range.  I bet the kids would think that hobo packets were fun in the summer, and would probably enjoy making their own. 

I never heard of your version of a slow cooker, either, rashea.  It sounds like something else that we could do at summer parties, and keep the heat outdoors.  Great idea!

In thinking of emergency cooking I remembered an interesting article about the past in an old car club magazine.  Apparently, in the days of the Model T's and Model A's some people used their car engines to cook meat on the way to a picnic.  Sounds bizarre.  The article had pictures, and it showed people wrapping pieces of meat in aluminum foil, and then attaching the packet to a hot part of their motor.  I can think of a lot of things that could go wrong with this.  Think I'll stick with Cat-Fu's hobo packets.

Thanks for your replies, wise ehellions.


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2012, 09:37:12 PM »
I've actually heard about a cookbook written by a couple who were long-haul truckers and got tired of fast and truck stop food. So they started cooking meals on the engine of the semi. It apparently worked pretty well.


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2012, 09:51:03 PM »
I have been to Poland, and they serve a "Hunter's Stew" called bigos   (bee gose)

basically, a hunter would go out to search for meat, and would take kielbasa (sausage) and cabbage (sauerkraut) and maybe apples, along to eat.  He would cook a bit of what he caught for the day with the other items, and would add herbs and whatever else he caught or found the next nights.

Today's bigos can still take days to make, and it is a thick and delicious and hearty stew, often served in a bread bowl. 

Mmmm...that's good eating!

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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #9 on: November 01, 2012, 10:08:22 PM »
We have no power but still have natural gas so we can cook on that.


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #10 on: November 01, 2012, 10:31:47 PM »
What a stitch, Firecat.  I had no idea that people were still doing that.  When I googled this up I found 2 cookbooks on Amazon, Diesel Dining and Manifold Destiny.  Who knew?

You're right about bigos, RegionMom!  We used to have a Polish restaurant in town that made it.  I always planned to try, but never did.  It seemed like the chef must have used up some of the leftovers.  It was never quite the same way twice, but was always delicious.

Bopper, I'm so sorry that you are going through this trying time.  I hope that your power is back on soon.  I'm glad that you can make hot food.

Your interesting replies are greatly appreciated.


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2012, 01:33:10 PM »
Years ago the power went off on a hot summer's day when I was cooking a meatloaf and potatoes in a crockpot.  I just left the lid on and threatened dire reprisals for anyone who touched it (that era's boyfriend was coming for dinner), and a couple of hours later when I served it the food was still bubbling and hot.  I was going to make a cheesecake from a mix, which called for melted butter, and as my parents had just gotten home the car engine was hot.  I melted the butter in a metal dish (a disposable pot pie plate) on the car engine.  Worked like a charm.  I had to beat the filling by hand, but the cheesecake came out very nice. 


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Re: "Pioneer" cooking if the power is off.......
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2012, 02:44:38 PM »
Since I live in the hurricane hot spot of Florida, I am very familiar with cooking without electricity. DH and I have camped and cooked while camping for more than 7 years, and we basically act like we are camping. We use our propane campstove outside to cook nearly anything. I recommend having a few cast iron dutch ovens around, as you can cook a stew or roast inside it over charcoal briquettes and bake biscuits or corn muffins on top of it. I also make an incredible dutch oven upside down cake.
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