COUSCOUS--And other thoughts for Urban NorEasters : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

COUSCOUSAnd other thoughts for Urban NorEasters

I know, Milne says I'm toast, but I do have a rural bug-out plan which I am still implementing. Here are a few tips which I have learned for urbanites in the North East in particular. I am slowly turning my wife into a GI since I showed her the 60 Minutes transcript. Her almost immediate reaction after concern about water and our young son was we should get couscous and bulghur wheat. Marrying her was the smartest thing I've ever done.

For those of you who don't live near a Mediterranean sub-population in the world, couscous is a pre-cooked dry pasta that looks a little bit like very coarse corn meal. The good thing about it is that you can cook it in an equal amount of water simply by boiling the water and dumping the dry couscous into the water, stirring and letting it sit for a couple of minutes. You don't have to keep simmering it like you would rice. It's high in calories and fiber.

Now, I am not sure about the amino acid content of couscous and beans relative to rice and beans, but it makes a nice supplement to your rice and beans stash and it goes with any food or stew. It's not as cheap as rice, but I managed to find 11 lbs. in a bag for just under $10. Go to the wholesale district of the city you live in and ask around for the Italian or Mediterranean food suppliers.

I have yet to by bulghur, but it's about the same price per pound at bulk food stores. It has similar cooking and nutrition to couscous. One package I saw even had a Tabouleh recipe on it which only required soaking it in vinegar overnight. Still haven't tried it yet though.

I am relying quite heavily on canned food at this point because of water concerns should I be able to remain in the city. How will I cook this food in a can if I need to. Well, I have created a makeshift emergency stove out of a coffee can, a metal clothes hanger, and a little votive candle. Take apart the clothes hanger with a pair of plyers and bend it so that it folds into a relatively flat spring support. It has to be small enough to fit into the coffee can and best if it's folded so that there is an opening across the middle. The votive candle sits at the bottom of the coffee can and the clothes hanger supports whatever can of food you put on top of it. It took me almost an hour to bring a can of Progresso soup (19 oz.) to boil, but it's hot enough to eat some time before that. Make sure that you remove the label and open the can before heating, but leave the lid attached to the can so that most of the heat stays in the can. Also the bottom of the can becomes black with soot and will make your clothes dirty. For those of you near an IKEA store, they sell tea lights for votive candles in packs of 100 for an absurdly low price (I just don't remember how much). The rest is pretty cheap.

Oh, the email is real if you have any questions.

-- nothere nothere (, June 25, 1999


OK, so it's my first post, and I already see a typo.

"I have yet to buy bulghur,..."

What do you expect?

-- nothere nothere (, June 25, 1999.


Thanks for the tips. Useful information is always appreciated, as are well thought out questions and answers. Typo's don't matter, no need to apologise.

Watch six and keep your...

-- eyes_open (, June 25, 1999.

For low-profile cooking, get Alco-Brite and the little clip-on burner that comes with it. By my [crude] tests, AB has about 150% the heating power of other jelled alcohol, and (even after paying the shipping) costs about a third as much.

Burn indoors, no monoxide worries, etc. Can use it for heat, too.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), June 25, 1999.

Oh, yeah. For those of you who want to cook in cans, stir DEEPLY and OFTEN. Otherwise what's at the bottom starts to boil, and the bubbles (and hot liquid) can't circulate to the top of the can, so the bottom gets super-heated. Heat a little too much and you'll launch 16 ounces of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee straight into the air. Pretty spectacular, if you've ever seen it.

I've never made mistakes like this, myself, you understand, I just read about them in books.

-- bw (home@puget.sound), June 25, 1999.

Thanks for the additional suggestions bw!

You're right about the heating in a can.

The nice thing about the tea lights is that many urbanites use a bunch of them anyway and they're really cheap. They also heat up so slowly (probably too slowly for some) that the risk of a Boyardee explosion is minimal.

I forgot to mention that eventually, the can gets hot. You can eat directly out of the can by holding the relatively cool coffee can after you blow out the candle. However, you may want to buy a pot handle from a camping store or REI. They can hold onto the lip of a can as well as they hold onto the lip of a pot. They're very useful if you do home canning with tin cans instead of jars as well.

-- nothere nothere (, June 25, 1999.

Yes, stir often. If I'm barbequing refritos frijoles, I'll not stir just to watch the beans rise... Also, if you boil sweetened, condensed milk for four hours (keep water filled or you really mess up the kitchen - I did that), it makes the most delicious caramel spread. Keeps as long as the milk uncooked, I suppose.

-- Lisa (, June 25, 1999.

Look here for a plan for a Hobo Stove, which sounds about like what you made.

I have just been experimenting with bulgur also. Its not pasta, but precooked cracked wheat. For those of you storing whole wheat, you can also make it yourself. Directions in "Making the Best of Basics".

Do a search for bulgur and you will find tons of info. Here's some to get you started:

Y2K Reasons to Buy Bulgur Some nutrition info a few recipes

Lots more can be found with a search for "bulgur"

-- Linda (, June 25, 1999.

nothere nothere:

Try obtaining a Coleman stove with fuel. Cans will heat up faster. Better yet, cook the canned food in a suitable pan for quicker heating.

-- Randolph (, June 26, 1999.

Thanks for the spelling correction and info on bulgur.

I had seen Old Git's (I think) post on the Hobo Stove before that one, and thought it was a great idea, but I don't have a cat or eat much tuna (yet). I really wanted to give people in the Northeast other options for indoor cooking besides going out and getting a camping stove. Since most people have empty coffee cans lying around for grease, wire hangers from dry cleaning and votive candles of some sort, I thought it was a nice emergency combination for those who don't have a ton of preps. Melting paraffin wax could be difficult for some, but buying tea lights at IKEA is still pretty easy and cheap.

Having tested it the other day, I thought it was kind of cool. To speed things up, I am thinking about testing again, but with two or three candles this time. Stirring, frequently stirring.

-- nothere nothere (, June 28, 1999.

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