The other day I went to one of my Prepper haunts in Charlotte, no not a gun shop, or even REI, but the Indian market across highway 51 from Carolina Place. It is called Patell Brothers. It is a great place to find a much broader variety of dried beans, lentils and grains, as well as having organic whole spices for long term storage, and premade, mylar packaged Indian meals. These are healthy,tasty, and the bag can be thrown in a pot of hot water to heat then you can eat right out of the bag, (my husband uses these on backpacking trips and swears by them). Their prices are quite good too so the prepping dollar goes farther.
Patell's is only one of many ethnic grocers I depend on for my long term food storage supplies. As a whole, ethnic grocers have an interesting variety of foods not commonly found at the grocery store, their prices are usually better than mainstream grocers and it gives you an opportunity to think out of the box. I also visit a Greek restaurant supply store for bulk dried garbanzos, cans of the best olive oil I have ever had, grape leaves, capers and oil cured calamata olives, an Asian market where I can get a variety seaweeds. nori, spring roll wrappers, pho noodles, rice wine vinegar, canned coconut milk, a variety of condiments and spices for my 3 month pantry, and their fresh vegetable section rivals the best main stream grocer in variety, quality and price, with the added plus of 10 different types of fresh, yes, fresh mushrooms! Then there is the Lebanese market that is home to my favorite Mediterranean spice blend, Zaatar. A blend of roasted thyme, sumac and sesame seeds that is to die for on top of hummus or sprinkled on olive oil brushed pita bread and broiled...yum... as well as Garam Masala, and other spices I use for variety when depending on basic staples. The Korean shop has a particular red pepper flake that I use when making Oi Sabagi, a fermented food I eat practically every day. The list could go on for awhile but I think you get my drift...
When depending on a few basic staples for an extended period of time it is advisable to have a way to add some variety. For us, these foods are incorporated into our daily diet, in part because I love ethnic foods and partly because we are vegan and these foods help to add interest to our table, but more importantly so that we are familiar with how to use them if we need to depend on them. Even if you are normally a meat and potatoes person, it is a good idea to have something in your bag of tricks to use when there is no meat in sight and rice and beans is getting old.
Here is what I bought this trip and how I plan to use them: Masoor Malka, is a kind of split red lentil. it cooks very quickly so it can be soup, salad or side dish protein in short order. Moong beans, better known as mung beans, can be sprouted for a nutritional punch when added to garden grown or foraged greens, or soaked and cooked up to make a dish similar to split pea soup. I usually sprout them since they are a veritable nutrient factory in sprouted form. Masoor Malki, the whole form of Mosoor Malka, make very tasty sprouts that don't taste as starchy as the larger lentils do when sprouted and eaten raw. Whole Urad, otherwise known as Black Gram, make good sprouts. The split version known as Urad Dal, along with cooked rice, are used to make a fermented batter for griddle cakes and dosas, a gluten free, absolutely delicious alternative to pancakes. griddle cakes also make a great vehicle for any type of foods you want to scoop up with your fingers, dips, thick soups and stews, or filled with seasoned veggies and potatoes and rolled up burrito style. They are delicious hot or cold. Toor Dal, or small dried pigeon peas, make a delicious soup. The recipe for this soup is on my other blog www.aviewfromthecottage.blogspot.com. Here is the link directly to the blog post. Just scroll down until you see Sambar soup. By the way this post has a really good recipe for soup stock that is great canned or frozen.
On this trip I also purchased candy coated fennel, which is great for that full feeling after eating a big meal, or for indigestion or upset tummy. It is more effective than Tums and doesn't have all the chemicals, (although it does have sugar...). I will put a bag of this in each variety bucket I make up and one in each medical supply bucket I put together.
I purchased whole organic spices, (Patell's price on organic spices is the best I have found anywhere), for long term storage. I will put each spice in a small mylar bag with an o2 absorber and seal it up. These will go in the variety buckets with the Indian foods, so that the spices required for the foods that I make will be with the staples used to make them. I also enclose a few of my tried and true recipes, in case something happens to me, (or my memory :) so that my family will still know how to prepare the dishes. And just as an FYI, you can buy pure sunflower seed oil from the Indian market, for about 1/3 of the cost of the grocery store price, (normally only found at high end gourmet markets and whole food stores not on the main stream grocery store shelves.)
I also bought a copper bottomed, stainless steel wok, with handles and a chapati rolling pin that makes perfectly formed chapati or tortillas. These will go in our emergency/camping cooking equipment. The wok was very affordable, $14.00 and will work as a pot for every occasion, that can be placed on a cook stove or on a rack over coals. The copper bottom will ensure even heat distribution to help control scorching on unpredictable heat sources.
In the future I will be posting more on how to add variety to your basic food storage. I will also post some of my favorite recipes for you to try out. The only thing I ask is that you credit me and my blogs if you pin or repost my recipes.
So for today I hope that you will think outside the box on what foods and seasonings to store in your emergency pantry. If you have any thoughts you would like to share on the subject, please, leave a comment. I would love to hear your ideas!