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Storm Eats : Gourmet Meals from a Can

We’ve all experienced the lack of electricity, no refrigeration, cabin fever feelings during a storm. We scramble for sliced bread, cases of water, and an array of canned food in hopes to maintain some sense of past normal days until mother nature passes. Between past snow storms and the current days of Hurricane Sandy, we can all relate to the “lack there of” of just about everything. However, just because everything in the kitchen is dry or comes out of can doesn’t mean we can’t take the delicious out of a can too! Here are some of the ways I try to stay fresh in the kitchen with limited culinary resources.

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First off, some of the most common produce that add flavor and substance to many dishes items don’t require refrigeration. From the base flavor of dishes, like onions or garlic, to filling starches, like potatoes or rice, these items can be kept for days on your kitchen counter. When left whole, tomatoes and avocado are unlikely thought to have lying around, but add color and flavor to many gourmet meals. With just a couple of sprinkles of dry spices, a cutting board, and some boiling water, not many would guess you were cooking in the dark.
More often than not, when most people think of canned food, no one gets very excited. There are some easy ways to add subtle touches to liven up a boring old bowl of canned soup. Take that sliced bread you bought to make that PB & J sandwich, sprinkle it with some garlic powder and olive oil, and toast it in the oven. When broken into chunks, you just created some fresh crostini to lay on top of your soup. A good garden vegetable soup can also emerge from your pantry with assorted canned vegetables and the stock I mentioned earlier. To make it even heartier, add chunks of boiled potato or rice. It’s filling, tasty, and a perfect savory snowstorm dish.
In the spirit of spicing up a common dish and creativity, consider adding things to traditional mac & cheese from a box. By taking jarred roasted red peppers, canned artichoke hearts, and seasoned breadcrumbs, you can create a cheesy dish that grace the menus of many New York City restaurants. For a little something next to a glass of red wine and wood burning fire, why not put together a small antipasto platter? Many antipasto inspired ingredients are non-perishable items. Italian dried meats, provolone or parmesan cheese chunks, and olives compliment the majority full bodied red wines on the market.
Now if you’re looking for a little something not-so-heavy, to snack on while playing a board game, a sweet fruit salad or classic bean salad could be just the thing. By taking canned pineapple, oranges, and peaches, adding a little granola and drizzled honey, a healthy morning parfait isn’t out of reach. A classic bean salad is one of the simplest to create, especially in a time crunch or with limited resources. Draining assorted beans, like chickpeas or kidney beans, add olive oil, salt & pepper, and diced red onion; you have a gourmet bean salad.
I know a storm can be stressful to say the least, and there are a lot of worries. However with a few of these tips and a little creativity in the kitchen, a delicious family meal doesn’t require all the comforts of a fully functioning kitchen. Spicing up your pantry sure beats putting another puzzle together anyway.

Happy Cooking!
With Love,
Grace

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