Nearly nine years ago, I wrote a post detailing what I’d do if I were the last person on planet. Usually in these scenarios I’m also dealing with the undead or zombies but in this case, it’s just me, nature, and the rest of what’s left of the world. My previous post mentioned how I thought the lack of electricity would be a huge problem in such a scenario. In the almost nine years since I wrote that, I don’t disagree that having no electricity would be a bummer but I’ve come up with another problem: the issue of expiry dates for almost everything.
The most obvious things that expire are fresh foods. In such a world, all the fruit, vegetables, and meat in a supermarket would go bad in just days. One could argue you could just grow more fruits and vegetables, and also raise new cattle. There are other things that expire, however, which aren’t as easy to replace. Medicines and other remedies all have expiry dates. Even if I were able to survive half a decade, by that time, many items that you’d find in a drug store would be past or approaching their expiry dates. Now the question is, do these dates actually matter? Luckily, most of them don’t to some degree. In some cases they do matter though. I’ve purchased anti-acid soft chews which are good for treating heart burn. They come out of the package soft as taffy and are easy to chew. I didn’t use the whole package and a few of them were still lying around well past their expiry date. The chews had hardened inside their package over time to the point they were hard as bricks. There was no way to even chew them anymore.
While some drugs can be safely and effectively used past their expiry date, that won’t be the case for most foods. I mentioned fruits, vegetables, and meat but what about manufactured foods like cookies, crackers, protein bars, chocolate, and chips? We all know these dates do matter in most cases. I wouldn’t eat a box of cookies that five years past its expiry date. I’ve seen and felt a protein bar that was a year beyond its consume by date. It was also rock hard. While one could grow more fruits and vegetables, you can’t grow more cookies or chocolate. I guess I could try baking my own cookies but what if the flour has expired by then? Will I know how to start up the Oreo factory by myself?
Another important item that has an expiry date are batteries. Everyone knows those dates just aren’t for show. Batteries do indeed lose their change even just sitting in their package. Portable power in such a world would be absolutely necessary. When batteries start dying out, I’d be in a lot of trouble. I know some of you are thinking about re-chargeable batteries but what if electricity has been cut off in the world? How would you charge your batteries then?
The last man on earth scenario sure is an interesting one.
It’s been almost three years since I moved into my current apartment and in that time I have not done a full and thorough clean out of the food cooling appliance in my kitchen. I have, however, cleaned the insides of the freezer and the lower compartment, including all the trays and crispers. What I haven’t done is thrown out all the bottles, containers, and frozen items that need to be discarded. That’s not to say I have items dating back three years in my fridge. I’ve just accumulated stuff over time and most of it needs to go.
I started with the non-frozen items this evening. I managed to identify some items that were no longer safe for human consumption. There was an unopened bottle of thousand island dressing. Though unopened, it was well past its expiry date of 2010. There was a bottle of BBQ sauce. This was opened, perhaps used twice, maybe thrice but also beyond its expiry date. There was a bottle of green salsa. I’d consumed most of this but I left enough in the glass bottle for mold to grow inside. Gross. There was the squeeze bottle of french dijon mustard. I believe I had bought this to eat my Montreal smoked meat sandwiches with. There was a lot of this left but no visible mold. As it was years beyond the expiry date, it had to go. For some reason, I’d purchased a bottle of Italian salad dressing. I’m not even a big fan of that dressing yet here was a bottle of it. The expiry date had long passed so it was tossed.
I didn’t have enough time to properly assess the freezer compartment but I did do a quick scan. Here are some definite candidates: a package of frozen ground beef that probably dates back to 2010 or earlier, some frozen dumplings, frozen vegetables, and frozen edamame beans.
I should probably throw stuff out a bit earlier.
In a previous post, I wrote how I was very tempted to buy a low cost deep fryer when I was at Superstore. That was about eight months ago and this long weekend, I found myself at the same Superstore location. I again looked over the deep fryers but I also looked at slow cookers on the shelf. The had some pretty nice ones that were up to $60-$80 in cost. They had LCD displays, large capacities, and most likely microprocessor controlled cooking. They also had a smaller capacity slow cooker for $12.99. On a whim, I bought the smaller slow cooker. I figured I wanted to expand my culinary horizons and you can’t really go wrong with $12.99. It looks like slow cooker above but smaller as it has only a 2L capacity. There’s no fancy LCD display nor any artificial intelligence on this budget slow cooker. It has three settings for the knob: keep warm, low, and high.
I’ve read a few things about slow cooking and what mostly appeals to me is the relative healthy nature of the food and that you just dump stuff into it and forget it for several hours. I’ve started to investigate slow cooker recipes online. Most of them seem reasonable in terms of ingredients and preparation. This pot roast recipe looks quite simple to follow. I’d like to try this beef stew suggestion as well.
I’m excited to try the slow cooker next weekend. I’m tempted to leave it on and cook while I’m at work but that doesn’t seem like a good idea. I wonder, can you slow cook french fries or fried chicken?