Posted by: edibleplanet | September 9, 2010

Earthquake Eating

It is not everyday that you find yourself huddling under a door frame at 4.30 in the morning while the house shakes violently around you in a 7.1 magnitude earthquake. After the shaking had stopped, we found we had no power and were too shook up to go back to bed, especially since large aftershocks kept shaking us anyway.
We are quite well equipped in the cooking without power department. We have a Kovea gas cooker and we also have a cobb oven – because we saw them being used by the Hairy Bikers and coveted one!
The little Kovea gas cooker is great because it is flat and stable, so not affected by aftershocks. In the darkness we boiled our camp kettle on it and made ourselves some very sweet mint tea. It was so nice having something warm and sweet inside on such a cold and scary morning. As dawn broke we decided to make some breakfast and again on the Kovea we a got a big pot of porridge cooking. It was delicious with brown sugar while we decided what to do, now we had no power and no water.
As evening approached we were still without power so we got out the cobb oven. The cobb is great because you can use it both as a grill or top of the stove and then you can put the lid on and use it as an oven. You can use charcoal briquettes for fuel, but we tend to use the recycled coconut husk rounds you can buy to fit in it. The rounds give you two hours cooking time before they lose their heat so it works best if you can cook several courses on it as you go along. There is no smoke, smell or fumes. Just a nice even heat. The cobb was originally designed as a way for people to cook in rural Africa, that was not reliant on electricity, but reduced the risk of out of control fires. They got their name from the abundant corn cobbs in Africa that were used as the fuel.
On our cobb oven, we made a Dutch nasi goreng, a rice dish with spices and vegetables. We had mince in the now not running freezer so we used that to make a satay beef to go on top of the rice. Satay with mince was not something I would have considered before but it turned out to be really tasty. While we ate our dinner, Karl had concocted an eggless (we had run out of them) chocolate pudding that cooked inside the Cobb. We were a bit worried we might have overcooked it but it was fine and a very chocolately, homely pudding. Then to our relief the power came back on.
Hot, tasty food sure makes a difference when your world has been turned upside down.



  1. “very sweet mint tea” – now that sounds like just the right medicine after such a fright! We had to wait until the power was restored at around 11am – just in time for elevenses 🙂

    • It’s amazing how hot drinks are so good for morale. It’s a bit the same when you’re tramping, cold and wet. Get a hot cup of tea and it makes everything feel alright again!

  2. I feel for you guys down there as we were sleeping in our tent in Christchurch when the Christmas aftershocks hit. We’d been in big earthquakes before in Japan, but being on the ground was quite an experience. I truly hope that was the last of the big ones for you as I’m sure your nerves are a wee bit shattered.

    Back to the blog, how exciting! I’ve just found you and I love your blog and the idea that you sell the interesting bits from around the world online. We have two of those little cookers you mention (different brands) that we brought back from Japan and we host great hotpot night with them in winter, but I had to look up the Cobb oven. How wonderful! I was wondering where you bought it from.

    Nice to have found you! – Marie

    • We got the Cobb Oven from a place called Burnsco (it’s a marine, boaty place). There are lots of places to buy them in NZ, or you can order them online from Cobb NZ. We love ours and we have cooked some very nice dinners in very remote places 🙂

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