Last January I started a food storage program for a group I help to organize (it’s in Pierce County and not food related so off topic here). I buy bulk items like rice, beans, and flour, then sell them to group members at a per pound or per unit cost, absorbing the cost of transport and containers as a donation. This lets people dip their toes into food storage without having to make a huge investment. Whatever I don’t sell goes into my pantry to bulk up my own emergency prep stores.
We have a once-a-month distribution with themes. February was Emergency Preparation Month. Shannon Harkness talked about this in her blog last week, the subject is coming up in her classes, as the emergency in Japan turns people’s thoughts to contemplating whether we are adequately prepared. As part of the Emergency Prep theme I handed out FEMA printouts and a section from Sharon Astyk’s book Independence Days, A Guide to Sustainable Food Storage and Preservation called “Five Dollars a Month Food Storage for Emergencies and Inflation for People Who Think They Cannot Afford Food Storage.” This section advises storing oatmeal and canned beans as they can be eaten cold as well as hot and serve as ingredients for a number of recipes.
The mantra for emergency food storage is “eat what you store, store what you eat.” For the last couple of years I’ve picked organic and local where possible, with most of my food coming from Washington, some from Oregon and a bit from California (leaving aside the coffee-chocolate-spices everyone imports from Elsewhere). This is spendy food and I wanted to keep the per-pound-or-unit cost low to my subscribers, so I get the bulk food from Cash and Carry and Costco. Now Costco carries organic items, and Cash and Carry has Bob’s Red Mill items, so I get those whenever I can, but this still means that industrial food has re-entered my diet.
I’ll admit that canned beans are turning into a favorite. I’ve been cooking from dried beans which need to be soaked before using and cooked for a long time, which is great when you have water and power, but not so great in an emergency. Canned beans have that marvelous convenience quality, you just open them up and toss them into the soup or whatever and they’re already moist and soft, almost a guilty pleasure.
When I was making bread for the KCAA potluck last Monday night I decided to add a spread to go with it. I found a bean dip recipe in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that called for great northern beans. Great, I said, a chance to put canned beans in the rotation. As I was reading the recipe, tasting it as I went along, it occured to me that it seemed a lot like hummus. I added a few hummus-ey ingredients and really brightened up the dish.
Great Northern Bean Hummus
1 can great northern beans
1 clove garlic, chopped, or 1/8 tsp garlic powder
2 tbs lemon juice (fresh or bottled)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
If you had to you could mash this with your potato masher (see how handy it is?) If the electricity is on you can use a blender or food processor. Whiz the beans and garlic first, then add everything else.
The bean dip idea has legs, it could start with the traditional hummus ingredient garbanzo beans or any other canned bean you have stored. Adding cumin, paprika, dried basil, or any fresh herbs would vary the dish too. Goes well with Wheat-Spelt Bread.