When the Light goes out – Recipes Against the Hunger and the Cold

Lukas Waldmann, Swiss Certified Naturopath TEN, Rotkreuz, Switzerland

Gertrude Ebermann, Certified Traditional Medicinal Herbalist, Eidenberg, Austria


Many of us grew up during a time of prosperity and feigned abundance and have never had to go hungry or cold. But Europe is gearing up for a harsh winter. In Europe, the entire electrical network is connected from Portugal and in the meantime, to Ukraine. So if the lights go out in any country, it can affect other European regions. This means that if the blackout does happen, it can become cold and uncomfortable, and it can take time to get everything running smoothly again. Are we prepared for this? Above all, what is needed are people who are mentally, emotionally and physically strong enough to be able to endure and bear such a situation. That is a big challenge. How do we prepare ourselves today for something we have never ever experienced before? With no claim to completeness, the naturopath Lukas Waldmann shared the results of his extensive research and his knowledge with the Congress participants.

While many are only talking about a power blackout so far, a blackout would actually mean a Europe-wide power, infrastructure and supply failure. This would mean a total standstill in a first phase that could last hours or even days. Since little time and resources have been spent thinking through such a scenario, we must effectively expect chaos and little to no coordination on the part of the state, municipalities, fire brigade, civil defence and military. The population would therefore be left to its own devices and would have to resort to self-help.

In a second phase, which could again last days or weeks, further self-help would have to be expected. During this time, a higher level of personal availability and safety can be assumed, since the water supply, the sewage system, the heating systems and the telecommunications would possibly be better regulated again through a partial ramping up of the networks.

Furthermore, we do not know what the cause of this blackout would be. It could be a grid overvoltage or grid undervoltage, a war, a storm … according to experts, this can occur quite unexpectedly in a few days, weeks, months, in a few years or even never. But it is already clear that once the system collapses, the ramp-up will be one of the most critical moments (phase 3). If everyone wants to reconnect to the grid as quickly as possible, another collapse would be predictable. One must also reckon that there would be no “just-connect-quickly”, as certain factories and institutions may have been damaged or even lack the resources, even if the power is back.

Many governments or municipalities offer downloadable emergency plans or emergency brochures on their websites, which can be referred to in order to plan for emergency preparedness and have the essentials in the house. Emergency supplies should be available for at least two weeks, keeping in mind proportionality and solidarity. Water and food, already prepared for consumption, are at the top of the list. Experienced campers and outdoor enthusiasts already know about many clever solutions such as water filters or simple cooking facilities. In addition, questions like: “Do I live alone or with a family, do we have pets, how much food do I actually need, how healthy should it be? How can I support and protect my family? Do I have space to take in other family members with me? Etc.” are helpful. Without creating a parallel world for yourself, you can make some preparations for such a situation now. The following points should be considered:

    • WATER: Where does our water come from? Check with the local water supply and don’t just fill up the bathtub (please be proportionate, the water supply could be damaged if there is too much sudden consumption). There are good ways to transport water even over long distances and to disinfect it if necessary. It also makes sense to have a certain supply of mineral water in the house.
    • CAMPING AREA AS A MODEL: buckets, foldable plastic bags, water bags. Water filter systems / Katadyn filters can remove up to 99.9% of bacteria from water. Crank, rechargeable, battery radios & torches, batteries, candles, fire extinguishers. Backpacks. Intact bicycles. Possibly small petrol/diesel supply.
    • EMERGENCY SUPPLY: Canned food can be eaten cold in an emergency. Rice, cereals, flour. Substitute cereals such as couscous, quinoa, amaranth (only need to be cooked briefly). Nuts, seeds, kernels and dried fruits are good sources of energy. Pulses contain proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Honey, dried meat, dried herbs and oils to enrich a meal. Seeds such as chia seeds or flax seeds help regulate digestion and contain good nutrients and fatty acids. Bread products, crispbread, mashed potato powder, soup powder. Emergency breakfast: oatmeal, nuts, a little oil or fat and milk powder. Eggs or egg powder. Cereal milk, almond milk, rice milk, coconut milk (long shelf life). Remember to regularly check the shelf life of emergency supplies, use up food if necessary and buy new supplies so that they can be used in a possible emergency situation. If you do not want to put everything together yourself, emergency packs can be purchased online or in shops.
    • COOKING: A small “goulash cannon” (adventure stove) for firing up and cooking with wood. Camping stove/grill with gas supplies. Fuel paste with attachment/reinventing the fondue pot. The well-tried cooking box can also be a good solution for energy-saving cooking and keeping warm. Fireplace in nature.


    • HEATING: Few built-in heating systems except the Swedish or tiled stove work without electricity. Also think of wood, matches, fire steel, lighter, tea light stove/clay pot stove, tested and safe radiant heaters (oxygen supply in the heated room must be guaranteed). The question arises whether emergency power systems or an energy box are really helpful for private households.


    • HYGIENE: Buckets, plastic bags. Nappies for babies. Cat litter (odour mitigation), gloves, disinfectants, soaps, household paper, first aid kits, water purification tablets.


    • HEALTHCARE & MEDICINES: Vitamin C, D, zinc, selenium, intestinal bacteria tablets, healing clay, zeolite (binds toxins in the intestines), homeopathy, Schuessler salts, echinacea drops, ginger and turmeric roots (for tea or to chew), etc.


    • CASH. NO WEAPONS. EMERGENCY MEETING POINT arranged with family members.


Thank you for sharing this knowledge with your fellowmen.

The experienced medicinal herbalist Gertrude Ebermann then showed the Congress participants that many plants grow in forests and meadows and often even around the house that can be used to make tasty and healthy meals or even remedies, such as stinging nettle or dandelion. She explained some prerequisites for making it work with preserving and storing food at home. These things take some time and require good planning, but the cleanliness of the workplace and especially the quality of the raw materials are also important. Using examples, the speaker presented different methods of preservation such as drying, fermenting (e.g. sauerkraut), preservation with salt (soup seasoning), sugar, alcohol, vinegar, etc., but also the classic hot filling as we know it from jam or compote.

Even leftover soup can be easily stored for a quick meal later without the need for a freezer. Simply pour the soup into clean jars while they are very hot and then either cover them with a thin layer of oil or sterilise them. The jars can be stored in the cellar for a few weeks. When hunger is great and time is short, this soup stock will have a healthy meal on the table in no time.

Eggs can easily be kept fresh for many weeks (8 months and more) without a refrigerator, Gertrude Ebermann reminded the audience, referring to a storage method that has almost been forgotten: In a container, mix 1 litre of water with 2 tablespoons of slaked lime until it has dissolved and the water is milky-cloudy. The fresh, raw and clean (but not washed) eggs are layered tip down in a large pot, which is filled with the lime water. The eggs should always be covered by the liquid in the pot and kept covered to store. In this way, eggs can be removed from the pot as needed and processed normally. (Caution: slaked lime is corrosive. When mixing the slaked lime with the water, make sure that no splashes get into the eyes).


22nd October 2022, Hotel Mövenpick, Regensdorf