Friday, April 21, 2006


It looks as if plans for opening the Cracked Cauldron are on hold pending some re-organization and lots of deep background work.

It will still open, just not as imminently as we'd hoped.

In the meantime, this blog will continue, because even if opening plans are on hold, work towards opening aren't. That work just isn't as excitingly anticipatory.

I will still be posting about the things we are doing, but I think I will expand this into more of a food journal than a restaurant journal - for now.

When the count-down to opening begins again, we will post about that - pretty much exclusively because it will be an all-consuming endeavor.

I think we just picked a bad time - financially speaking - to open something like the Cracked Cauldron, and our part of the country just wasn't ready for it. Or at least the finance and business community didn't think it would succeed. We are pretty confident they were (and are) wrong, but we can't prove it.

Since one of our reasons for opening the Cracked Cauldron was to help the working poor, the homeless but still employed population, I want to share some survival tips for them - mostly food-related since food storage is a real problem when you haven't a home.

The working poor, particularly the homeless working poor, can't build up reserves of food. They are the most vulnerable in the event of a disaster, and we need to think of ways we can assist them.

I'm going to ignore any commentary about how they deserve what they get for being homeless and poor. No one deserves that, and being suddenly homeless doesn't just happen to the poor - as recent disasters like Katrina and Rita clearly demonstrate.

The working homeless are living in a constant state of disaster, struggling to return to homed status and some degree of stability. This is hard to do when the housing market is so tight and society has a whole has become hard-hearted towards those less fortunate than themselves.

Government has a hand in this hardness by passing and enforcing regulations that make it even more difficult for the homeless to find affordable housing - and it's even worse for the working homeless with children. The usual remedies: multiple families sharing a small home or apartment, a single family living in one room or an efficiency style apartment - I've seen 300 sf efficiency apartments that cost more to rent than I pay for my 1400 sf home, and that's just wrong.

Boarding houses and rooms for rent just don't exist around here. Perhaps they do in other parts of hte country, but they aren't here. That means our working homeless can't find cheap tempoaray housing.

I can't house these people (much as I want to) because none of my ideas and suggestions are legal. But I can offer food, food storage tips, caching locations, information on getting meals, and suggestions to those who want to help on what they can do as well.

Let's start with what we homed people can do to help.

Donating food to local soup kitchens is a good start. Don't donate just at the Winter Holidays (Thanksgiving through New Year's), pledge to donate on a monthly or weekly basis and then follow through. People are hungry all year round, not just those two months of the year.

Make up lunch bags with food that doesn't spoil quickly and doesn't need to be refrigerated or cooked. Use pop-top canned foods unless you plan to give them a can opener - and always put a can opener in with canned foods that aren't pop-tops even if you've given one to that person before - they may have lost it, had it stolen, or given it to someone who needed it.

Always include packets of wipes - Wash n Dri isn't the only kind out there, baby wipes also come in carry packs, and do an excellent job of cleaning. And tuck in some flatware - dollar store metal ones are really nice, but disposable plastic works, too.

Add extra baggies or storage containers. They can always use them or pass them along.

Include coupons for free food - not buy one, get one free, actual free meals. You can buy gift certificates that will do this, and some restaurants will run a free food item without having to buy anything extra.

What kinds of food can you put in these bags?

There's a surprising variety of no-cook foods available. Try any of these (where I list brand names, if they aren't in your area, see if there are similar products by different companies in your area):

Trail mix
Dried fruit
Semi-soft aged cheeses like cheddar
Vienna sausages
StarKist tuna fillets
StarKist Lunch to go packs
StarKist Tuna Creations
StarKist pouch tuna
Spam slices in a pouch
Swanson Chicken pouches
Home made granola bars
Canned fruits in individual portions
Canned puddings n individual portions
Dried milk in resealable pouches
Canned beans
Crackers in small or resealable packages
Canned or pouch drinks
Bottled water
Peanut butter
Hard candies
Powdered drink mixes

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