Gas burner, fondue pot: 10 things every cook needs to survive power cuts
Uncertain dark times due to load-shedding means food preparation takes some rethinking
Handy kitchen gadgets and clever appliances may all be the rage but when the frustration of load-shedding hits what does a cook need to survive what Eskom is saying — that there’s the potential for a long and dark winter? Here’s my list of ten essentials that will help you get by in those dark times.
1. TABLE TOP PORTABLE GAS BURNER
Fired on butane gas cylinders (keep a couple of spares) there are some handy gas burners available in convenient carry cases. The design is such that it can be used for small or larger pots and pans.
Available online from R322.
2. THE WONDERBAG
An ingenious yet simple idea of a clever concept of two bulging heat-retaining cushions, available in an array of beautiful shwe shwe fabrics with straps that make it a handy cooker/warmer that is ideal for long and slow cooking for things like oats, rice, samp, soups and stews and for keeping food warm. How it works is the food needs to be brought to a rapid boil on the stove or over a gas flame, then sealed with a lid and transferred to the Wonderbag. The vessel between the cushions will continue to cook through the residual heat. The best way of using the Wonderbag is to prepare the food the night before, pop it into the bag and in the morning it will be ready to eat. Available online from R329.
3. GAS LIGHTER
Working with gas burners during load-shedding means they aren’t self igniting. Using matches may do the job but it can be tricky and dangerous so best to have a gas lighter to light a flame by pressing a button. Available online for R45 for a pack of two lighters.
4. INDUCTION PLATE COOKER
Unlike the others this is powered by electricity, but because of how versatile and super fast it is, it’s a handy heat source to have on hand. Portable, it heats water and cooks food super fast. The drawback is that only certain pots and pans and most of the new cookware will work on induction. Available in single portable units online from R899.
Nothing like a cup of tea or coffee to beat the blackout blues. Invest in a steel kettle that can be used over an open flame. Available online from R150 — R800 for a fancy coloured one.
6. FONDUE POT
Dust down an old favourite, the fondue pot, or invest in a new one. It uses a small amount of methylated spirits or handy tealight candles to keep it burning and is a fun and sociable way where everyone gets to cook their own food. Beyond a traditional cheese fondue one can quickly put together an Asian-style broth using ready-made stock in the pot and dip slithers of raw meat, chicken or plant-based alternatives and selection of sliced vegetables into the boiling broth. Once cooked the food is dipped in a sauce like soy, chilli, BBQ, sweet chilli or garlic sauce before enjoying. The beauty of this style of cooking is, once done the tastiest part is to drink the rich broth.
For a sweet ending make a chocolate fondue in the pot by breaking chocolate into pieces, adding cream and melting together and serve with dippers like pieces of biscuit, marshmallows, berries and other chosen bits to dip into the warmed chocolate.
Available online from R429.
7. NON-STICK FRYING PANS AND POTS
The bonus of this cookware is that food doesn’t stick in the pan so apart from the need to use little fat it is also not difficult to clean, which can be done without hot water. Frying pans range from R120 and pans from R250.
8. JAFFLE IRON
A contraption with long arms similar to a set of tongs with two metal cups at the end that filled clamp together and make the most delicious round toasted sandwich with a savoury or sweet filling. The bread is buttered on the outside which stops it sticking and once cooked the bread is golden brown.
Available online from R168.
9. HAND PRESS/PULL CHOPPER
Remember the Twista that the late consumer expert Isabel Jones made famous? Well it’s still available, it has been updated and is super handy. . Available online from R169.
10. CAN OPENER
Last but not least, a good quality hand-held can opener is essential for all kitchens and especially when the power is down. Great for opening those cans stored in cupboards that can become convenience meals in a jiffy during load-shedding. Available online from R30.