With Hurricane Sandy (aka “Frankenstorm”) about to rumble up the east coast, we’re all preparing to not have power for a few days. That means running to the store and making sure you have everything you need to stay safe, warm and fed. As far as food is concerned, if you can boil water, you can still have a pretty good vegetarian meal.
I highly recommend the Jet Boil  as the must-have camping accessory and the hero of all power outages. They work with a little propane canister and heat up in a flash. Like scary fast. If you’re cooking something besides water, keep an eye on the food as it will cook faster than you think. Of course, there are lots of makes and models of camping pots and stoves, but we’ve found that the Jet Boils that we have don’t take up a lot of room and are light to carry when camping.
When you’re in the dark, the last thing you probably want to do is chop vegetables or wash a lot of dishes so I’ve come up with a few quick recipes that don’t require a lot of prep…or cleanup.
– Vegetarian Pasta Puttanesca – Bring water to boil on high setting. Add pasta and cook per package directions lowering heat so you don’t boil over. Make sure to stir pasta occasionally so it doesn’t get stuck on the bottom. Drain. Add some capers, black olives, chopped garlic or garlic powder, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
– Couscous – Ratio of water to couscous is 2-to-1. Bring water and couscous to a boil, turn off heat, cover and let sit for about five minutes. Add some olive oil, Parmesan cheese and fresh herbs. Or, you can also add a vegetarian bouillon cube for extra flavor.
– Lentils – Ratio of water to lentils is 4-to-1. Add lentils and dried spices (garlic, onion, cumin, curry, turmeric, parsley – to taste) to pot, add water and bring it to a boil. Turn flame down to it’s lowest setting and let simmer until lentils are fully cooked about 15 – 20 minutes depending on amount of lentils you are cooking. Stir occasionally. Serve with pita bread.
– Rice – I’m usually not an advocate of minute rice, but I do have some on hand for power outages and camping trips. It takes less propane to cook the rice than regular rice. Instant rice has a one-to-one ratio. Boil water, add rice, turn off heat, cover, and let simmer for about five minutes. If you buy the rice in a little bag, it takes longer to cook about 8 to 10 minutes versus about five minutes for the loose rice. There is also instant brown rice available that’s a little healthier.
– Oatmeal – make instant oatmeal be your breakfast friend. Another thing to keep easily in the back of your cabinet when you have no power. Heat your water for tea or coffee and oatmeal at the same time. Add some dried fruit and some agave syrup for a little extra flavor.
– Ramen noodles – these notoriously pack a sodium punch. But, there are many brands out there that aren’t so sodium filled and there are also plenty of vegetarian choices. Ramen noodles are easy to make, just boil the water, follow package instructions and can have some hot noodley goodness. These also can be pushed to the back of the cabinet as they have a super-long shelf life.
– Tasty Bite  (aka Foods in a Pouch) – I am an enormous fan of Tasty Bite products. If you immerse the unopened pouches in boiling water, the contents will heat up. If your Jet Boil pot is not large enough for the pouch, then place the pouch in a larger pot, heat water to boiling in the jet boil, then pour the water into the larger pot. Add more hot water until the contents are heated through. (Frequently squish around the contents inside the pouch to distribute the heat.)
– Dehydrated camping foods – I am planning on doing a larger review of dehydrated camping meals, in the meantime, we have had good luck with the vegetarian entrees Backpacker’s Pantry makes. They have everything from breakfast, dinner and desserts. Just add boiling water, reseal and let it sit. These products are easily found at stores that sell camping equipment.
And, with all of these recipes, stay safe when the power is out. Don’t leave the Jet Boil unattended while you are cooking. And, remember, it gets very hot so be very careful!
My best wishes and thoughts to all my dear Veggin’ readers out there about to get hit with this seemingly powerful and devastating storm.