Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Prepper's Pantry: Nuts

A food item that’s good for long term storage, is energy and nutrition dense, and can be eaten as-is or combined with other ingredients, are nuts and their biological or culinary cousins.

From the perspective of science, nuts are considered fruits with a hard shell which protects an edible inner kernel. Examples include acorns, chestnuts, and hazelnuts (or filberts). While almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts are not botanically considered nuts, they have been accepted into that culinary family. The all-encompassing term for both groupings is tree nuts.

(Editrix's Note: I have an irresistible urge to say "How 'bout TREE nuts?!" That is all.)

Peanuts are considered nuts in a culinary sense, but actually are not nuts at all; they are properly members of the legume family alongside beans, soybeans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils.

A selection of nuts from the author's pantry

One of my favorite uses of peanuts for cooking is in Asian recipes. While this particular example is somewhat ingredient intensive, it makes a delicious meal. I usually serve it with rice.

Instant Pot Kung Pao Chicken

Kung Pao Chicken with a side of Fried Rice


  • 1/4 cup sesame oil (any kind)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced longways into 1” strands
  • 1 bunch scallions, sliced, separate the light green bottom and the dark green top
  • 1 green bell pepper, coarsely diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely diced
  • 3 tablespoons (6 cloves) crushed garlic
  • 2-3 pounds chicken breasts, cut into 1″ cubed bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce (or half and half hoisin sauce and soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch + 3 tablespoons water, mixed together to form a slurry
  • 1 cup roasted, salted or dry peanuts, as well as some for garnish

Other vegetables such as carrots, mushrooms, water chestnuts or baby corn can be added at Step 1 while sautéing the veggies.


  1. Add the sesame oil to the Instant Pot, set to “Sauté” on the “More” or “High” setting. 
  2. Allow it to heat for three minutes and then add onion, peppers and soft green portion of the scallions. 
  3. Sauté for 3 minutes and then add garlic. Sauté for 1 more minute.
  4. Add the chicken and sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until pinkish-white in color (it shouldn’t be fully cooked by now).
  5. Add in the broth and deglaze the bottom of the bottom of the pot so anything that may have stuck onto it comes up. 
  6. Follow up by adding in the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and cooking sherry. Give everything a good stir.
  7. Secure the lid, move the valve to sealing position, set to “Pressure Cook” on High Pressure for 7 minutes. Quick release when done.
  8. Set to “Sauté” on the “More” or “High” setting again. As it comes to a bubble, add in the oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, peanut butter, and chili garlic sauce. Stir well. 
  9. When bubbling stir in the cornstarch slurry, allow to bubble for 1 minute and then turn the pot off.
  10. Finally, stir in the peanuts and whiter, crunchier portion of the scallions.

Nuts are commonly used in baking. They are added to everything from cookies, to pastries, to yeast breads. This perennial favorite is a variation of the recipe from my post on quick breads and is an excellent companion to a nice hot cup of Assam-based tea.

Cranberry Almond Scones

Scones hot from the oven


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • ½ to 1 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 to 1¼ cups buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In a large bowl, blend the dry ingredients.
  3. Cut in the butter until the mixture has the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir in the buttermilk, but for no more than 20 seconds.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and knead gently 8 to 10 times, adding more flour as needed.
  6. Tear off chunks of dough or scoop out large spoonsful, and arrange them on a well-greased cookie sheet.
  7. Turn the oven down to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Larger scones take a longer time. They should be just starting to brown when you take them out.
  8. Let rest on a cooling rack.

Whether as a snack or part of a recipe or travel food like trail mix, nuts are an excellent source of nutrients in a compact package and, barring allergies, should have a place in every prepper's pantry.

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