First “Off-Grid” Meal

Woohoo! I did it!
I made my first “off-grid” meal and it was mostly from food storage!


Beef Stroganoff with mushrooms, green beans with dehydrated minced onions and lemonade.  I did use fresh sour cream but I’ll be replacing that with powdered sour cream and I also used fresh butter when I should have used powdered butter. I also used the London Broil that I talked about canning on May 27th. 

Okay, let’s get to the good stuff. How did I do it? First off, I’d like you to meet our new cooking stove. It’s called the Stove Tec and we purchased it a few weeks ago during our shopping in St. George. It’s a neat little stove that uses wood or charcoal. For this meal, I decided to use charcoal. I didn’t want to use lighter fluid, so I jumped on my laptop to see how to start charcoal with newspaper. And yes, I’ve never started a charcoal fire in my life. Well, maybe once or twice with lighter fluid but never with just newspaper. I read an eHow article on how to do it, and it stated that you need to use twigs too. Not me, I like to do things the hard way.

I was so so nervous as I crumbled up 4 pieces of newspaper and shoved them into the bottom of the stove. Next I added eight charcoal briquettes on top of the newspaper.

Then I stuck the lighter into the little opening in the bottom to light the newspaper. At first I didn’t think anything was happening, so I bent down to see if I could look through the little opening and check for a flame. And then smoke started coming out of the top!! Wow that was quick! And then there was more smoke… and more smoke… and then my heart started racing! All I could think was that the neighbors would smell the smoke and call the fire department. It’s amazing how something so simple can turn into a huge ordeal in my head. People start charcoal fires all the time and don’t even thing twice about it. And I’m standing in my backyard having an anxiety attack over my first fire… well, my first smoke anyway!

So here’s were the drama really begins… since all I saw was smoke, I figured that wasn’t enough and that the charcoal needed flames to get going. I figured something was wrong, so I went to the kitchen to get a bowl and some tongs. My plan was to fish out the charcoal, get the paper lit and then put the charcoal back on it. I did manage to get the charcoal out and I started messing with the paper to see if maybe it was too compact. That’s when good ‘ole Mr. Wind decides that he wants to come to the BBQ!!! So now I have little pieces of red-hot paper starting to blow all over the backyard.

Then I look up and notice that there is a huge pile of “dead wood” from the Palo Verde that Joel trimmed a few weeks back. Argh… am I going to have to run for the backyard hose. And I’m thinking to myself that I’m a complete idiot that I can’t even start a little charcoal BBQ without setting the entire backyard on fire. Well, Mr. Wind decided that he didn’t want to come to my BBQ after all and he went away!

So now what do I do? I have half burnt newspaper in the Stove Tec and a bowl of charcoal. Okay, let’s just call the whole thing off… but wait, as I reach for the bowl of charcoal I realize… it’s HOT and there are white edges on the charcoal!!!! Maybe I should just put it back into the Stove Tec and see what happens. So back in it went, after I burned my hand on the very hot bowl… sheezzz… this is turning out to look like an old episode of the Keystone Cops!

Then I decided maybe if I stuck some twigs in the little hole it would get hot and burn and help my charcoals. Can you believe it?!?! Somehow with all the messing around I did with the charcoal and the paper and the twigs… I MADE FIRE!!!! I MADE FIRE!!!! (Yes, I did do the very same fire dance that Tom Hanks did in Castaway, but I can assure you I wasn’t holding a lit palm leaf… and I had to stop when I realized I was running around the backyard yelling FIRE!!!! I MADE FIRE!!! LOL!)

So now I had to get to work cooking dinner. In the process, I used way to many pots and pans, I did have to use the propane burner attached to the BBQ island, and I wasted a lot of time moving items between the propane burner and the Stove Tec. But everything did get cooked and I was pretty proud of myself that I’d done it!

I did learn a few things along the way. First off, I’ll make a salad with the green beans next time instead of trying to heat them up too. I’ll use the propane burner to cook the pasta and the Stove Tec to cook the meat mixture instead of the other way around. The propane burner cooks hotter than the Stove Tec. I’ll also have everything out and ready to go before I start the charcoal. When Joel got home from work, he became my gopher and was running back and forth from the kitchen bringing me things I needed. Thank you honey! You’re the best and so supportive!

Here is a list of things I’ll need for next time and yes, honey, I’ll use the tray you found to put them all on:

  • Small covered pot for cooking pasta
  • Small covered casserole for cooking the meat mixture
  • 1 T butter (fresh or powdered)
  • 1 T flour
  • 1 c sour cream (or equivalent sour cream powder)
  • pasta
  • water
  • canned beef, opened
  • canned mushrooms, opened and drained
  • two pot holders
  • Stove Tec
  • charcoal
  • newspaper
  • lighter
  • twigs (LOL!)
  • slotted spoon for draining pasta
  • regular spoon for stirring meat mixture
  • one cork trivet
  • tray to transport all the items

If I think of anything else I’ll add them here later.

Oh, and I did want to mention that I did use one of the juice bottles of stored water for this meal. Some was used for cooking the pasta.  I used some water from the kitchen faucet and the rest that was in the bottle to make lemonade. I’m going to have to remember to put a date on the bottles when I fill them, just so I know how long they’ve been stored. Considering I used a whole juice bottle, plus some more, just to make this one meal… I’m going to have to find ways to store more water for our TF-WROL.

After dinner I thought it would be great to break out the s’more makings and have dessert. But, alas, my fire as well as the charcoal were gone…. maybe next time I’ll have to put in a few extra so we can have dessert! I managed to get my s’mores though, thanks to the kitchen stove 🙂

And I made hubby his dessert, which is really boring. It was just chocolate on graham crackers warmed in the microwave. He wouldn’t even let me show you what I made for him…. LOL!

“Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace [and] spoke, saying, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come [here].” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego came from the midst of the fire.” – Daniel 3:26 NKJV

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2 Responses to First “Off-Grid” Meal

  1. Mom says:

    ROFLOL!!! I can visualize the scene. I think we can all relate; especially those who weren’t scouts.

    • GrammyTammi says:

      It was pretty funny Mom! I wish I could have written everything down that was going on in my brain. Once the smoke stopped and I saw the bright red charcoals I started to feel much better. I’m glad I’m getting over this learning curve now, instead of in the midst of a disaster. Now if I can just figure out emergency power, I’ll be very happy.

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