Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Cooking with my thermal bag

Welcome to Rae Lange via Bloglovin. Again, thank you to Elaine over at Mortgage Free in Three for the pattern.

Sorry for the delay in this post, I wanted to check it worked properly before posting. So then, what did I cook in it first time around, a large pot of beef, barley and vegetable stew. After its initial cooking period to get everything piping hot, it went into the bag at 10am and came out at 5pm. Despite losing heat due to not enough beads, it was all cooked through, except the swede which was al dente.

I still needed to use oven gloves to remove it from the cooker and although the food was still hot, it needed thickening slightly, so that was done, which also warmed it through for just a few minutes. Not bad at all considering, so next time, all should be well:


Will I continue to use it, yes I will and did. The following day, I made bacon, leek and pearl barley soup in 5 hours. I had run out of pearl barley and substituted half the amount needed with risotto rice, which was very well cooked, so reckon it would have been ready in 3-4 hours maximum:


If you are wondering why bother to make one, especially if you (and I) already have a slow cooker, the reason is this. Apart from the first 20 or so minutes of preparing your chosen meal and bringing it to the boil, that is all the cooking (and more importantly), gas or electric you will use.

Despite what everyone says about boiling the pan for 10 minutes, I don't. Once the pan has come to a boil, I simmer it for 10 minutes, stirring to get all parts of the meal hot.


If you don't fancy this version, a different style one (a wonder box) can be found here
This can be stuffed with polystyrene beads or packed with hay.  It makes quite a large box, which can have more than one sized pan put into it (obviously only one at a time).

However, if packed with hay, it might be difficult to wash and if you fill bags with bean bag beads, make sure they are not the new style that dissolve in water.

What about cooking times I hear you ask, well try this site here
There are others as well and I believe Elaine is in the throws of producing a recipe book. I am noting down how long things take, whether they need less or more and going from there (as well as the above site), for guidance.

If you decide to make one, bear with it, it can be frustrating at times but worth it in the end. 

12 comments:

  1. Just catching up, Dc and my first read of this thread. Hay box cooking eh? My word that takes me back to my Guiding days! And very efficient it is too. Your second dish looks right up my street and I am drooling !

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    1. Well hello there! I like the fact I don't have to spend most of the late afternoon preparing tea. Once it is done, that is it. Gives so much freedom. Maybe rice or pasta to finish on some dishes, or all in one?

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  2. I have been very interested in this project. It would certainly save on fuel. I'm also a bit of a prepper and am always looking for alternative ways to cook meals off-grid. I reckon with this method you could heat it on the wood burner/fire before tucking up to bed in its duvet. What do you think ?
    Gill

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    1. I reckon so as they are designed for use in Africa to save them walking miles for firewood etc and to prevent accidents reference scalding and young children. My pan is cast iron and I think I have read somewhere that a glass lid is not so effective but maybe a thinner smaller internal lid, under the main lid would sort that problem out.

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  3. I love this idea and have done since I saw it on the Wartime Kitchen programme. Everything you have cooked looks delicious, I have found you need to cut swede quite small for the slow cooker to make sure its soft. This would be brilliant for camping ir caravanning, I usually take the slow cooker if we are on electric hook up but more and more we prefer to go without and just use the battery and solar panel. Its definitely something to think about. Thank you.

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    1. Yes, I too remember seeing it on that programme (the hay box that is) and thinking what a great idea. Don't forget, it also keeps cold things cold.

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  4. I think your comment about the swede is VERY helpful - the SIZE of the chopped meat/veg needs to be appropriate. Busy with other projects right now, but come the autumn...
    Thanks for sharing all your results - good and not so good - we all appreciate it! blessings xx

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    1. I reckon 3/4" to 1" dice is probably the right size.

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  5. The stew looks lovely! I think over a year it could save quite a bit of energy - and in summer you won't be heating your house up to cook dinner. And as Gill said, from a prepping or camping point of view it conserves your camping fuel. Also zero danger of electrical fires, which I know are rare - but still. What's not to like?

    In my haybox, the rule of thumb I use for cooking times is thoroughly heating the food and vessel (boiling for a couple of minutes) and then leaving in the box for double the stove top cooking time. Rice takes about 15mins, one pot pasta and quick lentil soup about 40 minutes, pulses about 2 hours and stewing-beef stew about 4 or 5 hours. I've so far only ever overcooked stuff so far, never under cooked.

    I look forward to your recipes :)
    (and sorry for the long comment, just thought it might be helpful)

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    1. Thanks for that 'double the time' tip. Shall experiment and see.

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  6. This is something I have never tried but might just do so after reading this. :) I'm sure one of the polystyrene insulated boxes could be packed and used for a small casserole-type pot.

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    1. I think as long as all the sides of your pot are in close contact with the polystyrene, it should work.

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