A crisis of some scale is a hard time either learning to live without, or making a great deal of work for ourselves. We can still have stuff with a little preparation and planning that make our next soup dish or pinto beans or squirrel a little happier, and give us some flexibility about how we use flour and mixtures for baked goods. We can do it without adding a ton of steps, mess and a lot of ingredients to our everyday activities in most cases. Whether we’re at home or following, this can save some fitness, money and work.
Ash Cakes & Bannock
How a soup should have been without any kind of bread? Not as content, it is what it is. Every flour will work for either an ash cake or bannock bread, also purchased mixes like Augason Farms’ dinner rolls – ever, but particularly in a disaster. I go ahead and adopt the cup-tablespoon-teaspoon ratio for bannock, or just drizzle in water or milk for an ash cake even though it’s got extra stuff in there.
Such ash cakes and bannock can also be improved with rolled oats, rolled wheat, or immediately rolled barley, but you need to let those sit for 10-20 minutes to make sure they have a chance to soak up any moisture, so you’ll also need to add more moisture than normal. It’s a way to add some flavor and variety to diets, as well as using some of the cheaper ingredients like oatmeal in our storage even though we haven’t scheduled cookies for no-bake.
It is also possible to make some cornbread or cornmeal into ash cakes or pseudo-Johnny cakes, to go beside a soup or under a stew or to add variety to our breakfast meals.
Related: Blackout Recipes
Drop biscuits & dumplings
Most pancake and dinner roll variations have the ability to turn into good, simple biscuits; and anything that is a biscuit (or bannock bread) can be dropped by mounded table spoons into a pot of broth, gravy or soup, cooked for 10 minutes, flipped, cooked for another 10-12 minutes, and whala – we have fluffy bread in our soups right there.
Head up: Biscuit dumplings will turn your clear, light broth into something thicker and more gravy on a regular basis. That’s not evil, just a suggestion.
Anything that can be a bad thing is that if you cover your soup completely with dumplings, stirring the bottom becomes very tough.
When you plan to make your meal in a solar oven or equivalent, all of these considerations go down. Much like a normal biscuit bake, you can do this one of two ways – stick the biscuits/dumplings on the bottom to slowly rise and fluff, or fan them out from the get-go or after part of the bake time has elapsed.
The benefit to dumplings over other ways to get a breading in our soup meal is that it is only just one pot of cooking.
Drop biscuits also have benefits in time and waste clean-up. If we mix a batter and dump cookies onto a sheet plate, we don’t even need to dip our fingers into flour to mold them. A counter and a rolling-pin or drinking glass (which is also what I normally use for a cutter) will certainly not thrive.
When I make drop biscuits, they’re ingredients to oven in 5 minutes or less, and my cleanup involves a bowl and two spoons. When Mr. P makes *real* biscuits, I consider just torching the kitchen and starting over.
In a life with limited water, limited resources, and a lot of labor involved with every aspect of survival, the differences can matter. The same holds true for the drop biscuit dumplings instead of rolling out and cutting even more to make flat drop dumplings.
Hardtack is certainly a choice, just as it was in colonial and pioneer days, to go with our soups. There’s plenty of recipes online to bake it.
There are not as many people who actually eat this stuff as I would have thought, and find that it is better soaked first for a couple of hours, then cooked right with broth, tea, or soup, anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour depending on the alignment of stars *.
* Snicker; on the predictability front, but not absolutely kidding.
That veers it away from a fast meal, but if you’re using a crock pot or similar, or if you’re cooking soup anyway for a few hours, heating the house anyway, it’s pretty convenient to be able to open a bucket of these things 2-5 years after you’ve made them and have a good, compact, calorie-dense portion to pick up and eat or see with a fork and knife. If we are so inclined, we can also subdue in some of our mad flours such as ground dry beans, acorn, and barley.
Just be mindful that real hardtack isn’t a Mountain House pilot bread or a cracker, and that 5-20 minutes under gravity or in a fry pan, once it’s hard and hot, goes nowhere without presoak.
Beer bread fits me to a T.
Pick out some cheap light beer, and don’t forget the option of a local store ordering you a couple of forties flats. In reality, they ‘re the cheapest choice for me, both bottles and cans, because I’m not willing to buy Natty Ice even for a catastrophe, even though there’s packaged wine in case I decide that I need a wine IV or camelback for my safety.
And the sifting … I call it optional.
In any sort of cooker we can use a recipe for beer bread, from a crock pot or facsimile to a solar oven. We can also make it in small cans around a campfire or rocket stove, or atop a candle heater with clay pot.
Spread out in a pie plate or frying pan instead of a loaf pan, or separated into muffin pans, it’ll cook faster and be easy to portion out.
That can avoid disagreements over who does or doesn’t get the heels (there are freaks out there who think a smaller slice of that). It can also only make serving easier and less messy while also saving fuel and time in the cooking.
You can go for heavier and darker ales as you want if you want more color to your bread. Although I’m able to drink a well-built Guinness or Killian’s Red, in my bread I just don’t like them and that bread isn’t perfect for PBJ.
One thing I found about backpacking is that in a griddle cake, you can make some good baked in it. For those of us who want to be fast and simple in a disaster, or who aren’t *ready* yet and are starving for a quick and easy treat, bag and box mixes I successfully made into small rounds of goodness with a pan or on the greased top of a canteen mug and any heat source includes:
- Oatmeal cookies
- Muffin mixes
- Cake mixes
- Scone mixes
- Cornbread & corn muffin mixes
- Hushpuppy batter
You may follow the instructions (or separate them, depending on how simple it is to separate fresh or powdered eggs and oil) or cut some liquids, and they come out like puffy pancakes.
Thin them down a fair bit, and we start looking for crêpes into the gourmet side, boy oh boy.
They can be eaten as-is like a soft cookie or roll-up, or topped with powdered sugar, cinnamon sugar, syrup-flavored ice cream and milk, syrup-flavored almonds, honey, tree syrup, karo, and jelly.
Frosting provides the opportunity to create cute spirals and grids or fluffy artistic mounds in a Ziploc bag. To do the same, pudding can be reserved and combined thickly, or used as crêpes filling.
They can be filled with canned or rehydrated nuts, cannoli filling, cookie filling, cream cheese or peanut butter, as well. You can also play on German chocolate frosting with shredded coconut and nuts (and candy) or use condensed sweetened milk and shredded coconut as a super-sweet filler.
Fun note: In a skillet, they can also be baked to cut like cornbread wedges. I often bake mixtures of muffins in a pie pan to make thin slices that are normally drizzled with something. Tuna cans and soup cans, as well as small Pyrex bowls or ramekins, can also be used for any batter. These containers, like this one, are also all choices for baked pancakes.
Also, if we aren’t as ready as we would like to be, or if we prefer comfort and want to continue to have easy choices in a crisis, we can still get the feel-good foods that can be bread and even sweet treats “baked.”
Either it opens up opportunities for us, just offers some additional backups, or is part of our daily routines, having an open mind on what we can do – and how much work it needs to take – will only help us in the future.
It targeted my weakness: breads. (And laziness, all right.) I wholeheartedly support knowing how to do things, and making things from scratch. A couple of my cheats have preservatives and cost problems. Nevertheless, we don’t want to pigeonhole ourselves from items like ash cakes and bannock that just need few ingredients, to new ways to make and use mixes that we may already have around, particularly if our disaster plans include holing up in summertime or much more physical work year-round.
Other aspects that need to be addressed when looking at these lists are the amount of fuel that some procedures require, the amount of pan scrubbing and kitchen cleaning involved, and even the cookware that we have.
When it comes to cooking, we may want to dig at some of our guilty pleasures. Also, if we don’t store our cupboards in order to make it a regular or even weekly staple, we could consider stashing some premade mixes, storing some food, and hanging on some tin cans, so we can pop them out for special occasions now and then.