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Most of us don't think about storing food on the stove, but it can be done safely. If you have a gas stove and no electricity for the refrigerator, think about salvaging meat and leftovers by cooking them and leaving them on the stove.
The only safe way to do this is by making water-based soups or stews. Milk is risky to begin with, and milk soups don't taste very good when they have been boiling for hours. Put in as few vegetables as possible, since these get mushy and lose flavor when cooked for long periods. Vegetables like onions and potatoes store for a long time uncooked, so you don't want to waste them by cooking them into something you are going to have to throw out soon.
Make a good-sized pot full of stewed meat with water and seasoning. Cut the meat into bite sized pieces. Bring the stew to a boil and cook the meat thoroughly. Generally, this means simmering it for at least 45 minutes. Once the stew is cooked, cover it and turn it down or take it off the heat.
If you are cooking on a gas stove and there is no concern about limited fuel, then keep the stew simmering at 165 degrees Fahrenheit or above. This will prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria. If you need to conserve fuel, take the stew off the fire and wrap it in a towel to insulate it. It will take about an hour for the food to cool below 165 degrees in a warm room. It is then safe for about another two hours. Every two hours, bring the stew back up to boiling.
Follow some simple rules to keep from poisoning yourself with stew. Cook the meat or fish thoroughly by boiling it. Keep simmering or holding foods above 165 degrees. Stir the stew only when it is boiling or simmering. Once you start to let it cool, don't take the lid off and don't put a spoon in it. Cook vegetables, rice and pasta separately and don't add them until you are ready to eat. If you add milk to the soup, bring it back to a boil and eat it immediately.
If the power is out and you are cooking on a grill or over a fire, remember to do it outside. If you use a charcoal or gas grill inside, you may die of carbon monoxide poisoning or burn the house down. The same is true of camp stoves that use gas or solid fuel.
If you have a fireplace and the chimney is sound, you can use it for cooking. Make sure there is no chimney damage, the chimney is not blocked, and that the damper is open. Open a window or door for intake air so the chimney can draw. If you are cooking on a wood stove, make sure the stovepipe is not damaged or obstructed and that there is intake air for the flue. If you don't routinely use a wood stove or fireplace, read the section on Fireplaces earlier in the book before you use one. If you have any doubt about the stove or fireplace, don't use it.
If you are building a wood fire outside for cooking, be sure to do it well away from the house. Never build a fire in a carport. Sparks can easily get into the ceiling and start a house fire. Never use gasoline to get a wood or charcoal fire started. It is best to clear an area and make a ring of rocks or bricks to contain the fire. Keep a bucket of water handy to douse the fire if necessary. Never leave an open fire unattended.
Don't burn treated wood or wood with paint or chemicals on it. If you are using the fire for cooking, you may contaminate your food with toxic smoke. Even if you are just using the fire for warmth, you may breathe in the contaminated smoke. Most fire deaths are from smoke inhalation not the fire itself.
If you have a generator, you can use electric appliances like grills, hot plates or slow cookers to prepare meals. Just remember that your power is limited and heating elements draw a lot of power. You are not going to be able to run your regular oven or cook top off the generator.
You should also forget the toaster. A toaster is great to defrost pastries or brown toast, but doesnít really cook anything. Your sandwich is just fine on bread instead of toast and the bagels will defrost on their own. A toaster oven will actually cook things but it uses a lot of power for cooking a small amount of food. If yours is not designed to cook meat, it probably isnít much use either.
Things that do work well off a generator are microwaves, grills, and hot plates. These are designed to run on 110 power and they can actually cook food thoroughly in a relatively short amount of time. They are also things you can carry outside and put on a table near the generator. Slow cookers will also work off a generator without taking a lot of power. The disadvantage of these is that you have to run the generator for hours to cook in a slow cooker. If you are running the generator anyway, you might as well use your Crock-Pot. If not, donít waste the fuel.