Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

Dining in the Dark: How to feed your family during a longterm blackout

by Take Two®

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People gather inside Dorian Gray Tap and Grill during a power outage following Hurricane Sandy, October 30, 2012 in the East Village neighborhood of New York City. The storm has claimed at least 40 lives in the United States, and has caused massive flooding accross much of the Atlantic seaboard leaving millions of people without power. US President Barack Obama has declared the situation a 'major disaster' for large areas of the US East Coast including New York City. Allison Joyce/Getty Images

It will be quite some time before any major changes to infrastructure can happen on the east coast, but right now there are still more than 4.6-million homes and residences without power.  And yet, everyone's gotta eat. 

Feeding your family for days on end without electricity can be challenging at best, but it's a situation any American might be forced to face in the wake of a disaster.

For more on how to dine in the dark, we're joined by Dan Pashman, creator and host of the James Beard Award-nominated podcast The Sporkful

Interview Highlights:


What is the most important piece of advice for food when you don’t have any power?
“Eat your most prized foods first… the stuff you don’t really wanna lose if it goes bad. When in doubt throw it out. Also its really important to keep the refrigerator and freezer closed when possible. Open it once take a picture with your cellphone and now you have an inventory of what you have. Also group your food together in the fridge so it stays cool.”

What is some advice for cooking with out the lights?
“Be careful, the hardest thing to cook without light is knowing when food is done. If you have steak thawing in the fridge that you want to grill, because you can still grill without power, find the heel of your hand, the part at the base of your thumb, when your hand is relaxed that part feels like raw steak if you touch it. If you touch your thumb to pointer finger, it feels like rare steak. If you touch your thumb to your middle finger, it feels like medium rare steak, thumb to ring finger, medium well, thumb to pinky, well-done steak.”

Obviously this is a tragedy, but do you think cooking without power could be an opportunity to get creative?
“Sure, a lot of folks whose stoves and ovens aren’t working may still be able to use their grills, which are often overlooked. You can boil water in a pot on a grille; you can cook bread on a grill... If you have cheese that hasn’t gone bad you can make pizza on your grill. If you have enough propane you can take sweetened and condensed milk and boil it for an hour and a half and you have dulce de leche”

How do you feel about canned food?
“Canned tuna has a lot of potential. You can make a great tuna salad with olive oil and vinegar instead of mayo, because mayo is perishable.”

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