When the folks at BenBella Books invited me to participate in their blog hop for The Art of Eating through the Zombie Apocalypse: A Cookbook and Culinary Survival Guide and share an excerpt with my readers, you just know that I jumped at the chance.
This is a FUN book! More than three hundred pages of zombies and food preservation and preparation tips....and gardening and composting and fermenting and hunting tips, along with other titles that the author recommends if you want to learn more about a subject. I've been carrying this book around the house for days, at the same time trying to keep it out of sight because once my oldest boy sees this one, he's going to snag it. Not a bad thing, since there's a lot of information in here that will be useful with or without a zombie apocalypse.
Eating Out of Your Cupboard
Alas, it’s been days since the initial outbreak started, and those damn zombies are still picking at what’s left of the living hors d’oeuvre platter beyond the four walls of your safe and well-fortified domicile. Plus, the power has been out for a while now—all the fresh food is long gone save for some onion, garlic, and a couple of sad potatoes.
Welcome to carb country. Unless you have a locavore’s personal stash of preserved or canned summer bounty, chances are you’re going to be surviving on a lot of starchy fare until it’s safe to go outside again.
As you will see in the following pages, there is quite a lot that can be done with the common North American pantry staples like flour, dried pastas, rice, canned proteins, beans, vegetables, and fruits. These recipes are simple and easy to prepare (some of them ludicrously so), and focus on very simple ingredients that most people keep kicking around in the cupboard—meaning there is lots of room to add or amend based on your own pantry stash.
No-Knead to Panic Bread
1 x 1 ½ -lb. loaf, or enough for 2–3 Hungry Survivors
It’s another day of being completely consumed by the rise of the undead, so why not soothe your troubled soul with the rise of a dead easy and absolutely delicious bread?
Bless Jim Lahey’s hopefully-still-living soul for developing this recipe. You may know Lahey, owner of New York’s Sullivan Street Bakery, for the no-knead bread revolution he kicked off via food journalist and author Mark Bittman in the early aughts— it took the home-cooking scene by storm and spread almost as quickly as an undead plague. His approach makes use of a long rising time and a very wet dough where gluten molecules are mobile and free to align themselves naturally (rather than relying on kneading). Translation: it takes a while, but requires no bread-making skill or specialized knowledge and virtually zero work.
The versatility of bread goes without saying. It makes a mean companion to Mental Fruit Lentil Soup (page 86), but can be schmeared, topped, dipped, or sandwichized in any number of ways—raid your cupboard and experiment.
This recipe is adapted from “No-Knead Bread” in Jim Lahey’s My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, an excellent book to have on hand for a variety of zpoc-friendly no-knead breads.
1 small bowl
1 large mixing bowl
1 mixing spoon
2 clean cotton kitchen towels or other clean breathable cloths
1 large, heavy pot or other oven-proof vessel, with lid
Indirect, Ammo Can Oven or other Oven Hack (page 44)
5 minutes prep
14–20 hours mostly unattended rising time
45 minutes baking time
30 minutes cooling time
¼ tsp. active dry yeast
1 ¾ c. plus 2 tbsp. warm water
Pinch of sugar
3 c. all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
1 ¼ tsp. salt
1. Proof the yeast by mixing it with 2 tablespoons of warm water (not hot!) and a pinch of sugar in a small bowl—it is ready to use when the top is foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl until blended. Add water and any wet flavorings (like honey) and mix until well combined. Your dough will be wet and sticky.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap if available (you can write the time down on the plastic with a marker), and one of the kitchen towels and pop it in a now nearly useless microwave or other dark spot to rest at least 12 hours, preferably 18 hours. The dough is ready for the next stage when the surface is bubbly.
4. Lightly sprinkle a work surface with flour and fold your dough out onto it. If using any add-ins (see Variations), sprinkle them on top of the dough now. Sprinkle the dough with a small amount of flour, then fold it over on itself two times. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let it sit for 15 minutes.
5. Cover a kitchen towel with a generous amount of flour. Dust your hands with flour, and sprinkle just enough flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to you, then shape it quickly into a ball. An imperfect zombies-are-breaking-down-my-defenses ball is just fine.
6. Place your ball seam side down onto the prepared cloth and generously dust the top with more flour. Cover the ball with a second towel and let rest for 2 hours.
7. Half an hour before the 2-hour mark of the second rise, set up your Ammo Can Oven for 450°F (see Judging Temperature, page 47), then place the oven-proof dish with the lid inside to preheat.
8. After the two-hour rise is complete, carefully remove the hot pot or other vessel from the Ammo Can Oven and, after removing the lid, plop your ball of dough into it, seam side up.
9. Bake, with the lid on, for 30 minutes. Remove the lid carefully, then bake another 15–30 minutes until nicely browned. Let cool for about 30 minutes before eating.
• 2 tbsp. honey (added at beginning with water), 1 tbsp. of fennel seeds, ½ c. of raisins, and cornmeal for dusting
• 1 small potato (peeled, diced, sautéed until browned), ½ small onion (minced and sautéed until soft), and ½ tsp. dried dill
• ½ c. olives, preferably jarred but canned work too
• 1 medium apple (peeled and diced), 1 tsp. cinnamon combined with 1 tbsp. sugar
The publisher has offered to send a copy to one of my readers (US or Canada addresses only, please.) To enter, just leave a comment on this post before midnight on Halloween.