Archive for the ‘Urban Survival Recipes’ Category

Well, if you have been following my blog you have noticed I’ve been out of commission for a while. Part of that was some changes in my personal life and part was as a result of my Preparing to Survive experiment. In my last post I explained the difference between preparing to survive an urban disaster and practicing the skills necessary to survive an urban disaster.

Practicing urban survival skills is not that easy. Somethings that may be perfectly appropriate in an emergency may be frowned upon in everyday life. Like the day I was practicing alternative fire starting on the Highline in NYC. The cops were not amused.

What I wanted to explore recently was how my body would react if there was an urban catastrophe and, as predicted, there was a shortage of food from the usual places we urbanites obtain our food from (e.g. The Cheesecake Factory, Dominos and the local Bodega). Since there are a ton of rules we have to follow in the city, I could not pull a Les Stroud and hang out as a homeless person in NYC to see if I could find food, water and shelter. Some socialite would call the police and I would just be taken to a homeless shelter where they would provide me with food, clothing and shelter plus bed bugs.

So I thought I would just see if I could duplicate what it would be like to restrict my diet to what would be available to me if there was no more food on the store shelves. What would I eat? There are no wild berries and caribou crossing Central Park. What we do have though are a lot of squirrels.

squirrel factssquirrel

So 313 grams equals about 11 ounces of squirrel meat.  An average squirrel yields about 3 ounces of meat so this chart equals almost 4 squirrels.   Okay, that is doable.  I think I can go on a squirrel diet for a week and see how my body reacts.

police stop

Unfortunately, according to the City of New York and PETA, squirrels are a protected species.  So are pigeons (I suggested an alternative).

So, how do I ascertain how my body and mind would react to a drastic change in diet?  The answer came from an unusual place. A chubby colleague of mine was going in for gastric bypass surgery and was told he needed lose 100 lbs. before he could have the surgery to lose weight. Huh? I still don’t understand that rationale but fortunately for me he was given a diet of high protein meal replacement shakes to help him lose the weight.  The shakes have almost the exact nutritional value of squirrels!  So I bought a week’s worth of shakes from him (felt like I was buying on the black market) and started my experiment.

For the next seven days all I would eat was 3-4 shakes per day and record my experience in a daily diary.  I can sum up the whole week with the one phrase “it sucked!”

Day one:  Surprisingly not hungry.  Noticed a diminished cognitive capacity, but not sure if it was related to my advanced age or the shakes.  Urinating a lot, but figured I’m drinking shakes, so it makes sense. Felt a little hungry at night but got through the day okay.

Day two: Seriously, I’m not thinking straight.  At the end of the day, I ask my colleague if he had similar experiences, and he said that it was probably due to dehydration.  A little tidbit of information he failed to tell me at the beginning.  Apparently you have to drink a LOT of water.  I drank additional water that night.  My energy level has tanked.

Day three: Have not caught up hydrating and it is apparent I lost some weight. As the day progressed  I hydrated more frequently.  I’m getting used to not physically eating.

Day four to day seven.  Uneventful.  I slowly regained my physical strength and what little cognition I previously had.  I lost a total of 10 lbs but felt like I could still go on just having shakes for nutrition.  I opted to stop the experiment as planned.  I slowly went back to eating normally.

Day 10: I sat down to write this blog post.  I felt a weird feeling in my right kidney.  Similar to what it feels like days after getting a bad kidney punch.  Plus I had an overwhelming urge to use the bathroom.  Both the pain in my kidney and the urge to relieve myself grew increasingly worrisome.  Within in four hours, I was at the ER with a morphine drip in one arm and a very nice nurse on my other side assuring me it was okay to cry.  Yes folks, I was passing a kidney stone.  Apparently, another thing my colleague failed to mention was that there was a high incidence of contracting kidney stones while taking these shakes.  Combine that with my initial dehydration and I was down for the count.

But, the experiment was a success.  I now have the experience of feeling what it would be like to have my diet drastically change such as what may happen in an urban crisis.  Although I already knew hydrating was important, I now know that I underestimated how much water I need to function at peak performance.  Lastly, I realized that the decisions I make at the beginning of a crisis can and will have a profound effect later.  I kept the kidney stone as a reminder of that.

Keep practicing!

THE SUPER EGG

How can you beat the mighty egg as an awesome Urban Survival food?  It has great nutritional value, is cheap and has a long shelf life.  There have been recent studies that actually show that eggs are good for you! Many of our Urban Survival recipes contain eggs.. the mighty matzo and the mighty ramen noodle to name just two.

To qualify as an Urban Survival food, a food must have nutritional value, be cheap, be able to be prepared quickly and be able to be modified for taste.  I just bought a carton of 18 large eggs for $1.99.  That’s cheap!  The egg also has great nutritional value (see below) can be prepared quickly and can be modified for taste.  Below is some egg facts I found.  Don’t let the bad reputation of eggs deter you- go try one of our recipes!

EGG FACTS

A large egg represents less than 4% of the daily calorie intake of a person eating 2,000 calories a day; it provides 10% of a person’s daily recommended protein, and valuable iron, B vitamins, and minerals, including the folate recommended for pregnant women.

A hen requires about 24 to 26 hours to produce an egg. After the egg is laid, the hen starts all over again about 30 minutes later.

Egg protein is both high in quality and low in cost. It’s easy to compare the price of eggs to the price of other protein foods. A dozen Large eggs weigh 1 1/2 pounds, so the price per pound of Large eggs is two-thirds of the price per dozen. For example, if Large eggs cost 90¢ per dozen, they cost 60¢ per pound. At $1.20 per dozen, Large eggs are only 80¢ per pound.

Dates on egg cartons and all other food packaging reflect food quality, not food safety. An ‘expiration’ or ‘sell-by’ date on an egg carton tells the grocer to pull the eggs if they haven’t sold by that time. A ‘best-by’ or ‘use-by’ date tells you that your eggs will still be of high quality if you use them by that date.

You can keep fresh, uncooked eggs in the shell refrigerated in their cartons for at least three weeks after you bring them home, with insignificant quality loss. Properly handled and stored, eggs rarely spoil. If you keep them long enough, eggs are more likely to simply dry up. But don’t leave eggs out. They’ll age more in one day at room temperature than they will in one week in the refrigerator.

Photo and fact credit:

http://photobucket.com/images/super-egg/

http://smarteregg.com/can-eggs-make-you-smarter/

http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/eggs-friend-or-foe

http://www.incredibleegg.org/

 

The Mighty Matzo

Today, I’d like to mention one of the best survival foods available.  The mighty matzo!  Let me start by elaborating on the history of how the matzo became an urban survival food.  Many of you may know the story of the Buddhist monk who travelled from India to the northern regions of China and taught the Buddhist monks there how to protect themselves.  These techniques are what is widely regarded as the precursor to modern martial arts.  What is not so well-known is that at that very same time, a Polish rabbi name Shlomo Epstein emigrated to feudal Japan where he studied under the most knowledgeable samurai and ninjas.  They taught the rabbi the secrets of samurai and ninja combat and survival.  After twenty years of training and several bat/bar mitzvahs, Shlomo emigrated to Brooklyn, NY.  After witnessing the great turmoil this country was going through at the time, Shlomo decided to combine what he learned from his time in Japan with his Jewish heritage and opened the first ever school of jew-jitsu.

Solomon’s legacy can be seen in the arts of krav maga as well as Tiger “the mensh” Shulman’s Karate. Tiger and I actually studied together and I even went to his Bar Mitzvah.  We had such a meshuga time!

Me and Tiger. I'm 5th from the left (the asian kid) and Tiger is 6th from left. You can tell by the look on his face he knew he could kick everyone's butt's even then!

But I digress. What is even less known about Shlomo was his knowledge of urban survival food.  I found this recipe mixed in with old Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand records that Shlomo left behind and am sharing the recipe with you today.

Okay……. none of that is true.  I’m sure Tiger has a lawyer in his family so I apologize and say that I am only using legally allowed satire 🙂

The matzo brei recipe I am presenting today was passed down to me from my mother.  Nevertheless it fits the criteria for an urban survival recipe:  it’s quick, cheap, easy to make and can be modified for taste.  Matzo also never seems to spoil.  I think because it has a low moisture content.  I had boxes of matzo last for over 6 months! This recipe has a decent amount of carbohydrates and protein.

Below is the recipe.  It takes about 10 minutes and cost about $2.00.  I just got 5 lbs. of matzo free because I caught a sale at my local supermarket due to Passover coming up so my cost was much lower (such a deal!).  Let me know what you think and if you vary the recipe, please share.

Ingredients ( for one serving)

two matzos, two eggs, butter and salt

Directions:

Soak  matzos under cold running water for about a minute on each side.  Crumble matzos in a bowl.  Beat the two eggs and then add them to the broken matzos.  Mix the matzo and eggs together.

matzo in bowl

In a skillet add a pat of butter.  Place over medium heat. Pour the egg/matzo mixture in the skillet and flatten like an omelet.  Add a dash of salt over mixture.  In about two minutes, flip matzo over and cook for about two minutes.

matzo mixture in pan

Enjoy.

Finished matzo brei... yum!

Okay…. before you log on to your email accounts to write some witty remarks on how I’ve gone all Martha Stewart, let me explain (but bring it on anyway). This blog is not only meant to prepare you for surviving an unexpected natural or man-made disaster but also unexpected or sudden life changes. The loss of a job, a divorce or simply going away to school and living on a shoe-string budget are some reasons one may wish to look hard at making affordable meals that are quick, easy, nutritious, cheap and can be modified for taste. 

Ramen noodles have been the staple of college dorms for years. One problem with just preparing ramen noodles as recommended on the package is that you can get pretty sick of the taste rather quickly.  But, they are cheap (about 25 cents a pack) and easy to make. Another problem is that if you prepare one block of a typical Ramen Noddle soup with the accompanying seasoning packet (a 2 serving size believe it or not), you will get 380 calories, 14 grams of fat, 1600 milligrams of sodium (66% of your daily recommended intake!), 52 grams of carbohydrates (huh, pretty low), less than 1 gram of dietary fiber and 10 grams of protein.

I came across this alternative while working at the police academy in NYC.  The academy is located on the island of Manhattan in NYC.  Tons of great food around it, but mostly very expensive haute cuisine.  One day I stopped in a new Chinese bakery that opened and they had fried ramen noodles on the menu for $5.00.  SCORE!  That is a cheap meal in NYC!  It was a pretty big portion, had egg and onions in it and it tasted like a noodle version of fried rice. Yum.  I asked the proprietor for the recipe, but he politely refused.  I decided I would try to recreate it.  After many months, and many bowls of mushed noodles, I realized that the technique of cooking it was as important as the ingredients.

My version eliminates the high sodium packet that is enclosed with the ramen noodle package in favor of better, more nutritional ingredients.  This is an EASY recipe and takes about 5 minutes to prepare.  Below is the basic recipe…. you can add as many other ingredients as you wish to change it up and make it your own. This will be more than enough for one person.  The entire cost of this meal is about $1.00 (yes, one dollar!)

Ingredients:

  • One package of Ramen noodles (block type)
  • One tablespoon of vegetable oil (or canola or olive)
  • One egg
  • Quarter of a small onion (or any other veg. in that family) finely chopped
  • Half a tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce (can use regular but sodium will go up)

In a pot, boil ramen noodles as directed.  Throw out flavor packet. I suggest under-cooking it a bit, so if says boil for three minutes, boil for about 2 minutes.  Drain noodles in a colander.  Then rinse noodles under cold water until noodles are cool (this was the secret!!).  If not, the noodles will still cook from that point on and you will have a mass of mush. Drain water from the noodles in the colander.  Put oil in pan over medium heat.  A non-stick pan is recommended but not necessary. Beat eggs in a small bowl and add egg to pan and scramble. Add onions (and other ingredients you choose) in pan.  Saute for about 2 minutes until egg and other ingredients are cooked.  Put cold noodles in pan and pour in soy sauce.  Saute for about a minute.  Then enjoy!

Basic ramen recipe

Let me know if you try the recipe and any variations you come with.  I’m going to start a new category for recipes.  The criteria are that the recipe must be quick, easy, cheap and be at least somewhat nutritious. Post a recipe here and the world will know you are an Urban Survivalist!