Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Desert Island Selections: What's in your pantry?

Shipwrecked on a desert island? If I were there with you these are the items I hope would float up on the shore, they are the pantry items that I could not live without.


First and foremost I would wish, hope and pray for flour. With just flour and water, yes, I could make glue but I don't think we'll be needing a pinata on the beach. We will need food, I could throw together a make-do batch of biscuit "things". They wouldn't taste good but they'd be food and a lot better than Haiti's clay cookies! All-purpose flour would be the most useful but I also like to keep bread flour around too for it's higher protein content--it makes a better bread. Of course to make any kind of decent bread product I will also need some . . . . .

Oil, shortening or other fat product. With fat product, flour and water I could make some great tortillas, sour-dough bread and better textured biscuit "things". I could also use the fat and flour to make a roux as a base for soups and sauces or to fry up some found desert island product--taro, mussels, lizards. Some sort of fat product, any kind, will make these things more palatable but to truly make them good I'll want . . . .

Salt. No, you can't just use sea water, won't work the same way. You have to, like, boil it down and do all this other stuff to it, and, like, that requires a huge honkin' fire and stuff. I would rather just have the salt float up on the shore in a nice white and blue container with a pour spout, right? Yeah, so with salt I can make all the same things but have them taste decent too. But that's not all salt is good for. Salt is also a preservative so when I catch a bunch of fish, or lizards I can salt them and preserve them for a few months down the road when those same animals aren't "in season". I could also use the salt to preserve found fruits and vegetables in a brine, taro pickles anyone? But that's not all---salt is also a disinfectant and can be used to clean pots and pans (if they floated up too), clean wounds and sore throats. Speaking of brines and cleaning, another useful product would be . . . .

Vinegar. There are 1001 uses for vinegar! One part vinegar to 4 parts oil will make a simple vinaigrette for found desert island greens. Add a little to lizard stew (or any other meat) to make it more tender. It is also a useful cleaning product. Use it to clean and sanitize work areas, clean tarnished pots and pans and discourage ants. Speaking of bugs did you know that rubbing vinegar on your skin will discourage bugs from biting you, stop stings from itching and soothe a sunburn? All very important things on a desert island! Another important thing on a desert island is . . . .

Sugar. Sugar is not just for sweetening things, though that's good too. Sugar can be mixed with water to make a bee trap, used as an abrasive to wash off very dirty hands and if you burn your tongue on the lizard stew sprinkle some sugar on it, the pain should lessen noticeably. But really truly these three things are just an excuse to keep sugar around because we all know we just want to stick our finger in it and lick, yum! Gather some island berries and make a sweet jam, boil it with water and make a candy. And to make some desert island cookies simply mix it with your flour, fat (hopefully butter, margerine, or at least shortening), salt, some island bird eggs and . . . .

Baking Soda. Cookies on a desert island, life is good. Baking soda will help your cookies rise and when mixed with vinegar will help a cake rise. Baking soda is an excellent mildly abrasive cleaner and a deodorizer. If lizard stew gave you heartburn drink water with some baking soda in it in place of an antacid. Use it as a deodorant, as toothpaste, as a pain reliever for bee stings and jelly fish stings. Make your island bird egg omelets fluffier by adding 1/2 t for every 3 eggs. Soak your caught island critters in a baking soda solution before cooking to reduce some of that gamey smell and taste. This island is quickly becoming comfortable and homey with all these pantry items floating up on shore now if only I could get me some . . . .

Cocoa Powder! You know why.

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