Foods for a hurricane

You should always keep a supply of non-perishable food in case you lose electricity during a storm. (Judy Sloan Reich, S-S)

In Florida, we share a history of bad dinner guests. You may not have had personal contact with Katrina, Ivan, Wilma, Charley, Frances and their buddies who blew through in recent years, but it's likely you know someone who did.

When hurricane season begins, it's time to stock the pantry in case more unwanted guests pop in.

Your stash should include nonperishables chosen with nutrition in mind, but leave room for a few indulgences.

Pantry essentials

The time to prepare is now. Really. Here's what you need to know:

•Store 1 gallon of water per day for each family member — that includes pets. (Replace every six months.)

•Stock shelf-stable canned beverages.

•Buy enough nonperishable food for three to seven days. Again, don't forget your furry or not-so-furry friends. Select foods that require no refrigeration, cooking or preparation. Shop at stores that specialize in outdoor gear for freeze-dried foods such as dehydrated eggs (add water, seasonings).

•Buy tough-skinned fruits and vegetables. Citrus, carrots and apples are good examples. The harder the fruit, the better it keeps.

•Stock high-energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, unsalted nuts, health-food bars and trail mix.

•Choose smoked or dried meats.

•Buy instant drinks such as powdered, canned milk or shelf-stable milk, instant coffee and tea. Grab a couple of packs of soft drinks and juice boxes as treats for the kids too.

•Buy stress-relief foods such as sugar cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals and Jiffy Pop popcorn.

•Write out a basic meal plan and store in a sealable plastic bag. Think of a prolonged loss of power as an impromptu camp-out and the ideas will flow.

*Gather the essentials. A manual can opener, a heavy-bottomed pan that can be placed on your grill, sheet pans or griddles that can be used on your grill, oven mitts, matches stashed in sealable plastic bags, cooking tools, grill fuel, moist towelettes, paper towels, gel fuel such as Sterno, a grill light or flashlight designated for cooking, pet food, paper plates and plastic utensils.

Go light on the alcohol. If a hurricane is churning close by, you'll need your wits about you

Refrigerator odor cleanup tips

Here are some ideas to combat stubborn refrigerator and freezer odors:

Dab cotton balls with vanilla or citrus extract and place in an open dish in refrigerator.

Spread baking soda in shallow pans and place pans on clean refrigerator shelves, bins and within the freezer compartment.