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Hurricane Irma watch: Storm food and kitchen prep 101

Batten down the hatches (and fine china). With Category 5 Hurricane Irma looming and South Florida expected to soon be placed under hurricane watch, now is the time for some Storm Kitchen Prep 101. For those who weathered last year’s near-miss from Hurricane Matthew, don’t get complacent or pooh-pooh the incessant media hype. And for those who weren't around for Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and have never experienced a direct hurricane hit, take a deep breath and don't freak out. Now is the time to get prepared and be vigilant.

If you live in an evacuation zone and get the order to leave, pack your essentials (clothes, important documents, passport, medications) and bring a cooler with some ice and water, but don't sweat all the stuff in the freezer and fridge. If the power goes out, you may have to toss it all when you return home. But that's small potatoes in the grand scheme of a Category 4 or 5 threat.

If you do stay home, make sure your household has plenty of bottled water, ice, canned goods, nonperishable items, a large cooler (or three) and a manual can opener. Then, get ready to binge on some comfort/junk food in hunker-down mode. Yes, it's tempting to drink beer or other libations to soothe the nerves, but you also have to keep your wits about you.

One pre-storm tip: Make a few pounds of plain pasta and boil a couple of dozen eggs before the power goes out, because they store easily and will keep in a powerless fridge for a while. (And they're a nice change of pace from canned tuna or peanut butter.) Gas grills come in handy after a storm, but make sure your propane tanks are stored safely during it (not indoors, but in a sturdy shed or braced against a fence or wall where it will be shielded from high winds and won't turn into a projectile).

And don't count on restaurants or supermarkets being open in the immediate aftermath. When they do open, make sure you have cash. Although stores and eateries may have power or emergency generators, credit-card transactions may be scuttled because of computer and phone issues.

Fingers crossed, all., 954-356-4508. Follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats. Sign up for my weekly dining newsletter at

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