At the 2010 Miami Book Fair International, The Storm Gourmet by Daphne Nikolopoulos (Pineapple Press, Inc., 2005) caught my eye. The other day I unearthed it and my adult daughter and I both read it. I was disappointed. My daughter found the book confusing but she liked more of the recipes than I did.
What struck both of us is that this book requires special shopping for ingredients I don’t typically use or store in my hurricane pantry. Some of these ingredients are hard to find. Some are expensive. In general, these gourmet recipes are better suited to a regular gourmet cookbook than to this book. Almost every dish requires something special. We shopped for menu items at Milam’s Market, Publix, and Whole Foods Market, and did not find everything.
All the prepared foods in these recipes are canned, packaged, or fresh. No recipes include heated cooking instructions. Nikolopoulos doesn’t suggest what might be easy to make on a camping stove. We cheated and cooked the pasta in the recipe my daughter tried because we couldn’t find instant pasta.
Many ingredients require refrigeration while awaiting use, and others require refrigeration of the leftover portion after using a small amount in a recipe. Nikolopoulos isn’t clear about what to do with them.
Fourteen-day meal plan
Nikolopoulos offers a 14-day meal plan.
For breakfast the first day, she suggests cereal with milk. I suppose she is using the cartons of milk now available in most stores which don’t require refrigeration until after they are opened. These cartons generally hold several servings. I’m not sure what she does with the open containers. Horizon Organic Milk now has three-pack milk sip-ups. Each contains 3.8 fluid ounces of milk — just enough for a small bowl of cereal.
Nikolopoulos talks about fish sauce, but she’s not clear on what kind it is. Thai fish sauce doesn’t require refrigeration. Other kinds of fish sauce come in heavy paper cartons like chicken and vegetable broth, and in cans. As always, read the ingredients.
Nikolopulos suggests growing your own herbs. I wonder what her yard is like after a storm. Outdoor plants often are decimated. Fresh ginger requires refrigeration. Sweet onions, garlic, oranges, lemons, limes, and avocados require refrigeration after being cut open. Fresh cilantro and parsley will last a few days set in a container with water.
No cleanup instructions
Nikolopoulos makes a point of collecting old-fashioned non-electric hand tools to use when preparing her dishes, but she gives no specific product recommendations. Without knowing what you are looking for, finding available products online or in a store can be difficult, and you can’t ask a store manager to order a particular item for you.
Nikolopoulos provides no cleanup instructions. Some of her recipes generate a lot of dirty and oily cooking gear. I always boil water as I am cooking and use it to wash dishes. She suggests allowing plenty of water to drink and for cleanup, and to use paper napkins and plates, plastic cups and utensils. She does not mention camp stoves or barbecue equipment.
The golden rule, according to Nikolopoulos, is to collect disaster provisions early. “It’s important to be organized, have available enough of the right supplies, and to stock up early.”
Her book did prompt us to think about how we normally cook after a storm, and to add some of her suggested items to our hurricane pantry.
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