5 MAY 2015 :: Creating food from what you have in the cupboards.

Today I had to go through my food supplies and try to make them into meals. This happens when my cupboards start to get bare and continues until I can fill them up again.  Since my food stamps were reduced, food has become a greater issue.

I needed something for breakfasts, so I finally made more granola to go with my powdered milk.  When I first started making granola again, I made a very large batch  --  too much!  I gave a bunch of it away.  The next time I made granola, I tried a different recipe and made less. This time I wanted to make just enough for me to eat for a short while so I could make fresh granola more often.  I think I ended up with about six cups of granola anyway.

This time I decided to use a smaller recipe from Cook's Country (on PBS) as my foundation, then I cut it almost in half.  I also tried several different ingredients than the recipe requested. 
  • Since I needed sugar for the recipe, I used the (EXPENSIVE!) date sugar I purchased awhile back while looking for sugar substitutes.  I hoped it would flavor the granola with the taste of dates since the only dried fruit I had was raisins.  
  • Instead of the maple syrup the recipe called for, I used the last of a bottle of corn syrup I had. 
  • Because I have made different kinds of granola in the past, I went ahead and included some powdered milk and wheat germ to improve the healthiness of it. 
  • After it was baked, I added the raisins along with the last of some Rice Krispies I had, and included a small amount of Nutritional Yeast (which I understand is healthy, but not sure how). 
My granola browned a bit more than I wanted it to, but it still was good enough to eat.  I tested it as it cooled.  :-)  Tomorrow I will have it for breakfast.

Figuring out meals is also a challenge every month.  I have learned to freeze parts of the bigger dishes I make for another day...so I try to keep using those stored meals as I go along.  Pasta and rice and oats are things that I make more than I need of and freeze the extra.  Pasta and rice go well with just a few veggies in a salad or fried, oats go well with dried fruits and brown sugar for breakfast.  Having staples handy allows a better choice of meals to make.

I haven't quite decided what MY staples are, but some of these "regulars" do well :: pasta, rice, onions and carrots, sweet potatoes, tuna, some kind of cheese, dry milk, yeast and flour to make breads, a sweetener of some kind, and canned fruits and beans.  Canned tomatoes are also a real good food to have on hand.  Some people like to have spaghetti sauce for a lot of options, too.

For spices, I like salt and pepper and garlic powder. After that I would want parsley and Italian blend.  Important condiments are oil (I like olive oil and safflower oil right now.), vinegar, butter, eggs, and mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.

I could live awhile on these things, depending on how much of them I had, if it was required. My BASIC FOODS list is long...  it is my impression that, in some disaster relief distributions, rice is the only thing provided, and that it becomes a black market commodity.  I have often thought that a food stamp program in refugee camps and other difficult living situations might be better for all...but theft and corruption are everywhere there are struggling people.

If you have read my writings, you know that hunger has been a part of my life.  Because of that, having as decent a back-up pantry as I can is important.  I have read that we need at least one gallon of water per day per person, and that most grocery stores are ravaged and empty by three days when an emergency happens, if there is any food left at all.  I don't know how much poor people can prepare for these things, but I always try to build up emergency food rations as I try to survive each month on food stamps.  It is what helps me get through times when I can't buy anything more, which can be two or more weeks at the end of my "food month."  Staples like rice and pasta and other foods that can be kept without refrigeration will provide some food even if it isn't the greatest meals.

My pantry is what I have to work with.  It allowed me to make some granola, and some pasta salad, and soups...these will provide healthy food until I can get to the store for fresh supplies.

Doing this again helps me to remember what hunger is like, increases my desire to change the poverty of others, and moves me to find better food options.  I hope I will be able to do some of that before I die.