Canned tuna, boxed apple juice, peanut butter crackers. What’s in your hurricane supply of non-perishable food?
Emergency response experts suggest that families have food and water to last from three to seven days.
But who wants to eat seven days of canned chili?
There are options with a little planning according to Chef Don Pintabona, co-owner of Locale Market in St. Petersburg and a nationally renowned chef who has cooked his way through natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy and manmade disasters like 9-11 in New York City.
Pintabona was dishing up hot meals to thousands of 9/11 rescue workers – as leader of Operation Chefs with Spirit - within 72 hours of the collapse of the World Trade Center Towers,
“It was an amazing effort,” Pintabona said. “It kind of taught us all how important food is to everyone, not only for sustenance, but for your soul, your wellbeing.”
Pintabona also joined 29 other chefs who traveled to Miami to raise money for Hurricane Andrew survivors. And most recently, he weathered Hurricane Sandy when it sideswiped New York City cutting power to his part of town for more than 12 days.
“It actually became a party atmosphere. I lived in an apartment building with 100 apartments. I was there six, seven years and I didn’t know anybody until after the hurricane,” Pintabona said. “We all cooked outside. We all got to know each other. We kind of bonded in a pretty cool way.”
But he admits, he did not have a hurricane food supply set aside prior to Sandy because he never thought a hurricane would hit Manhattan.
Lesson learned. Now a resident of Florida, Pintabona shares some of his disaster preparation tips.
- Something as simple as citrus can brighten canned food, so keep lemons and limes on hand.
- Stock up on hot sauces, pesto, flavored oils and other condiments to give a little extra zest to canned goods like beans, chicken, tuna and salmon.
- Dried fruit like apples, pears, cranberries and prunes are a good source of protein and fiber.
- Chicken broth is a must for making soups and rice.
- Canned coconut milk can enhance flavor, smooth out sauces and even be used on dried cereal.
- Select low sodium canned goods which are better for you and you won’t get as thirsty if your water supply is limited.
“Look at your refrigerator,” Pintabona said. “If we know that a bad storm is coming. If we have eggs, cook them. They’re better off hard boiled. If we have bacon cook it off. Bacon can go into salads and soups and pastas and cook it while you still have electric to cook on or gas.”
Some other suggestions from Chef Pintabona and food writer Jeff Houck, marketing director at Locale Market:
- Freeze as much as you can such as bottled water so it can act as a coolant before being consumed.
- Cook as much of your refrigerated items as possible ahead of time. Foods like bacon, sausage and eggs.
- Know that some items can hold well without refrigeration like butter or hard cheeses like Parmigiano-Reggiano.
- Be sure to stock “comfort foods” like individual pudding packs, instant mashed potatoes, dried pastas and rice.
“Something like a dry pasta that is shelf stable for a long time, a little bit of pasta, a little bit of water and throw some herbs on it and you’re done,” said Houck, a Florida native.
And he offered some options for families on a tight budget and might not be able to afford a lot of hurricane supplies.
“Something like rice, which is affordable, adding a few canned vegetables to rice and a little bit of chicken stock and you have a borderline pilaf or a paella,” Houck said. “It’s not about being fancy it’s about suiting your needs.”
Houck’s comfort food after a storm hits and the power is out: s’mores --- graham crackers –chocolate and marshmallows toasted over his outdoor grill.
Pintabona’s comfort food is cavatelli, ridged, shell-shaped pasta, his mother always made for his birthday. He shared the recipe:
Cavatelli Pasta with Peas, Proscuitto & Ricotta Cheese
1 lb. Cavatelli
2 C Pear Tomatoes ( red & yellow) , halved
1/2lb. Fresh garden peas , shucked and blanched
½ C Ricotta Cheese (about 4 oz.)
2 T Fresh mint , julienned
1 ea. Spanish Onion, diced
3 ea. Garlic cloves , slivered
1 T Fresh ground black pepper
3T Olive Oil
2 oz. Proscuitto, julienned
2 Tbsp unsalted butter , soft
1t red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt , to taste
1. In a pot of boiling , salted water , add the pasta and stir to prevent from sticking together. Boil pasta about 3 minutes , or until they float to the top.
2. Meanwhile in a large sauté pan over moderate heat , add the olive oil and onions and sauté until onions are translucent, about 1minute.Add garlic and sauté until golden, then quickly add the proscuitto & tomatoes to stop the cooking process.
3. Season with salt and pepper and gently toss the tomatoes just to wilt and release their juices . add in the peas and toss to mix
4. When pasta is ready , drain the pasta reserving a ½ cup of the pasta water . Toss the pasta in a bowl with 2 Tbsp of soft butter , and season with salt & pepper.
5. Add the Tomato mixture to the drained pasta , and the reserved pasta water ,as needed to moisten
6. Toss together well , taste and adjust seasoning . Add red pepper flakes if desired
For the Plates
- Place desired amount of pasta in four warm pasta bowls, distributing the garnish evenly
- Place a nice dollop of ricotta on top of each dish , and garnish with the julienned mint . If desired you can sprinkle with some fresh grated parmigiano cheese.
Headnote: There’s always a few pounds of pasta in the house, and cooking for a family of five, it’s also a quick , easy dish to make. Adding alittle proscuitto & ricotta to this dish makes a simple Cavatelli a main course.
Serves 4 –6 p.p.
Executive Chef : Don Pintabona
Some other links to suggested Hurricane and Disaster Supplies: