Friday, August 30, 2013

The Countdown: 10 Things You Need to Know How To Do Before You Lose Electricity!

#4: Have & Use Non-Electric Appliances

Since we are about to hit the active period during our hurricane season here in the US, I thought it would be beneficial to create a 'Top 10 List' of things you should know how to do without electricity. Most of these things will be extremely important if you had to go without electricity for a few weeks (or longer). However, many of them also apply to power outages of just a few days. So, every Friday, until we countdown to #1, I will highlight a necessary skill to keep your house running as 'normal' as possible. Once you learn about these 10 things, you should be able to keep your house running normally during any power outage from a few days to a few months or longer, if that becomes necessary.

I do want to mention, none of these things will include the use of a generator. While generators do work short term, IMHO, there is no way you can store enough gasoline to keep the generator running for a long term outage. My strategy is to use 18th and 19th century skills to keep my house running. I don't even own a generator. 

I created this 'Top 10 List' and the subject matter and countdown order are mine alone. You may not agree with my list. That is no problem! You are welcome to share your ideas in the comments section. We all learn when differing viewpoints are shared respectfully!


Non-electric appliances can be found in all areas of the home. For example, my gardening tools are all non-electric. I don't have a tiller. If I need to turn the dirt over, I use a shovel. I also don't have a vacuum, I beat my rugs. But putting all that aside  you won't need non-electric appliances like these for a short term power outage. The need grows greater the longer the outage. I have discussed some of these in the previous posts of this series.

Today's post is about non-electric appliances you will need in a short term power outage. That is, non-electric appliances for the kitchen. Most (normal) people have electric appliances in their kitchens. But as we all know, they won't work in a power outage. So, I have made a list of the top five non-electric appliances I use on a daily or almost daily basis. This should give you an idea of the type of appliances you will need if you ever have to prepare and cook food without power.

In my kitchen, I have two kinds of non-electric appliances. Those that are required for everyday cooking and those that are required for every day food processing. I use both on a daily basis and find them critical for working when you don't have (or don't use) electricity. However, this post and this series is about what is needed to maintain your household when the power is out. In that regard, I am sure processing food from the garden or grinding wheat won't be high on your list of priorities.So, I will stick with the appliances used in everyday cooking. I will write another post of the top non-electric appliances I use to process foods once this series is complete.

On another note, I really don't think these are appliances. To me, an appliance implies something with a motor that needs electricity. I call them tools. So I will refer to each as a tool for the rest of this post. 

Here are the top five tools for everyday cooking that I can't live without :

#5: Kitchen Timers

Some people might say that kitchen timers really aren't critical. You could use your watch or a clock and keep an eye on the time instead. That was my thought process for quite a few years. However, after burning many foods in my Dutch Oven because I turned my attention to something else, I can assure you that these are not a luxury, they are critical to cooking without power. Think about it, how many times do you use the timer on your stove? How would you cook if you didn't have that timer? These timers have been critical to my being able to manage cooking different food items at the same time. The are really inexpensive. I got mine at one of the big box stores.

#4: Mortar and Pestle

I use this thing every day. Something always needs to be ground to a powder. Herbs from the garden, vitamins for Molly, something for the plants in the garden like hot peppers for insecticide or Tums tablets for calcium. I have had this one for years and I can't imagine not having it. Some other common uses for a mortar and pestle include making pesto, guacamole and gazpacho. The Indians used it to grind nuts and corn into flours. It is also handy to grind sun dried tomatoes into a powder when you need to thicken tomato sauce. You can find them made from many different materials, mine is made from marble. It is super easy and quick to clean. They are not expensive either. Mine is so old I am not sure the design is available anymore. Here is one I like on Amazon that very similar to mine.

RSVP White Marble Mortar and Pestle

#3: Blender

This is a wishlist item for me. I don't have one (yet). I put it at number three because I think about it on a daily basis as I try to blend, whisk and shake by other methods! We drink kefir smoothies on a daily basis at my house. Making these smoothies would be so much easier if I had one of these. I would also use it to grind up onion or garlic powder. I have been reading about this blender for quite sometime and I believe it does everything all electric blenders do (comments on the Internet say it is only so-so on crushing ice). I am going to ask for one for my birthday. I will write a review when I get one!

Update on 10/28/2013:
 I now have one and I wrote a review on it! You can see that here.

#2: Hand Beaters

Hand beaters are used almost daily in my house. I don't think I would be able to cook without them. While a whisk is fine for small things, you can't beat egg whites with it or mix some types of cake/quick bread batter with it either. I use these hand beaters a lot when cooking with food storage. (Look at some of those posts and you will see this tool in the pictures.) Now, I will say it takes some getting used to. Your hands can cramp the first few times you use it. Go slow at first and then increase speed. Switch hands often! If the directions say to mix for two minutes with an electric mixer, you will need to mix for five to six minutes with these. I have had mine for so long I don't remember where I got them. It has nylon gears similar to the ones for sale on Amazon shown in the link below. 

Norpro Rotary Egg Beater, 12 inch

I also want to say that I have four sets of hand crank beaters. Two have nylon gears and two have metal gears. The metal ones tend to rust and just like gardening tools, require oil to keep them clean. (I use olive oil on mine.) I like the nylon gears better. Easier to use and easier to clean - no oiling required. 

#1: Sun Oven
While it is possible to use your grill (both charcoal and gas grills) as an oven, I must say I don't know how I would be able to cook with out one of these. This is my oven of choice. You can read more about how I cook without electricity (Ten Ways to Cook Without Electricity) by using a Sun Oven here. I reach for it first and only consider using other ways of cooking if the sun isn't shining. It even works with on/off cloud cover if you are using it as a slow cooker. Clouds will inhibit cooking when you need a high consistent temperature such as when you are baking a cake or bread. I so love cooking with a sun oven that I am now the proud owner of two of them! My new sun oven is a double oven that holds two pots at the same time. (The sun oven in the picture is quite small and will only hold small pots.) There is also a new oven on the market that will consistently reach temperatures of 400 to 450 degrees. (I know what I am going to ask Santa to bring me for Christmas this year!) I will write a post on the advantages and disadvantages of each soon.

So, there you have it! The tops tools I use to cook with on a daily basis. In my opinion, when you have these five tools, you will be able to cook just about anything, whether you have power or not!

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  1. I like Mortar and pestle. My mother uses them in kitchen.

    1. James,

      I agree with you! It is super convenient, easy to use and very handy! I bet your mother loves it too!


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