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Food storage made easy and tasty

"EMERGENCY FOOD STORAGE IN A NUTSHELL, 3rd edition," by Leslie D. Probert and Lisa Harkness, Purely Simply Publishing, $25.95, 222 pages

Food storage is more than buying a shelf and stocking up on canned goods and flour. It’s a science that can be perfected, and with the help of Leslie Probert, who is also a Mormon Times columnist, and Lisa Harkness, delicious and effective food storage can be as easy as opening a can of beans.

“Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell” is 222 pages of easy, creative and tasty recipes, along with planning charts, recommendations, tips and answers to common questions. How much wheat should you have stored to be covered for six months? What about dried whole eggs? The answers for all questions relating to food storage can be found in the first pages of this book, organizing calculations and equation into precise columns and rows. Even more conveniently, those columns and rows leave plenty of space for personal notes, documenting specific needs and keeping track of what’s needed and what isn’t.

But these charts aren’t even the best pages of this beginners guide to food storage — it’s the other 180 pages of pure recipes, including everything from simple cold salads to decadent desserts. However, these pages are colorless and bulleted, which makes for clean but flat reading. On top of that, there aren’t pictures for any of the recipes, leaving the chefs to wonder what the end product may look like.

But aside from the blasÉ appearance of the pages, the cookbook resonates with rich recipes. From fruit muffins to crepes, pineapple chicken to pot pies to baked peaches, this cookbook covers all its bases. What’s the catch? There isn’t one. These recipes are simple, quick and delicious, and oftentimes unconventional and creative.

Though for many of the recipes, being a bean-lover makes the dishes more enjoyable, but even the beaniest recipe has its appeal.

Versatility is just another bonus for many of these recipes, like “Cantina Pinto Beans.” The 15-minute main dish is more difficult to ruin than to master, and with dried celery, onions, green peppers and other dried vegetables and spices, the pinto beans — either dried or canned — become a fiesta of flavors suitable for a main dish, a side dish or even a dip for tortilla chips. The cookbook depends heavily on the chef having a plethora of a handful of different kind of beans, many of which are used in its dozens of soup, stew and chowder recipes.

Like “Cantina Pinto Beans,” “Black Bean and Rice Stew” is another hearty recipe that can be thrown together in under a half hour. It’s anything but flavorless, bursting with dried vegetables that rehydrate to create a savory main or side dish, easily paired with corn or chips, or spooned and slurped down by itself.

For many people, food storage meals don’t invoke excitement or whet the appetite, but this book tries to mend the stale and flavorless connotations. It’s obvious that eating from food storage every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner isn’t ideal, but it’s reassuring to know that if a time comes when food storage is the only option, there is hope.