Well we had porridge from the Hay Box Cooker this morning. It was sort of a success. It was cooked and it was warm... but only barely warm. I have learned a lot from this first experiment. Heat is escaping from the top of the pan (heat rises of course) and so I need more insulation on top. I shall dig out an old cushion or another old blanket and pack it around much tighter next time.
What I did was this. I brought the porridge (made with half milk half water) up to the boil on the stove top. I boiled it for about thirty seconds (it is quick cook porridge which only needs about five minutes anyway) then put tin foil over the pan and then put the lid on. Small quantities of food do not cook so well since they cannot retain enough heat so I made double the usual quantity... for the purpose of the experiment I thought it was worth it. I still had too much of a gap between the porridge and the lid... about an inch is better. The porridge pot went into the cooker at 11pm and we opened it up at 7am this morning. It was in there far too long for something that would have been cooked after about an hour or two max. All the same it was warm enough and we ate most of it!! I would like to try a pot of soup in it next... only I haven't got my act together today... so probably tomorrow... working my way up to 'coq au vin'!! The winter is when we shall really reap the benefits of this system of cooking.
Now if you are thinking that this wouldn't be any good for you because you only cook small quantities you would be wrong. This is a gadget that Billy christina received as a present when she moved into student accommodation.
You put pasta or noodles or vegetables even into the container and fill it with boiling water. You wait ten minutes and they are cooked!
It came with recipes for entire meals you can cook using only boiling water and the container... here we have a bowl of noodles ready in ten minutes. Normal cooking time is 4 minutes simmering on the stove top.
You can do similar things with a thermos flask... it has to be a really good quality thermos though. But it is possible to make dinner for one using only a tiny fraction of the amount of energy (and therefore money) that you would normally need. Have a look at these thermos cooking links. for some ideas that might work for you.
I would also add that with the hay box cooker and keeping food warm for long periods you have to be exercise the same hygeine rules as you would normally in the kitchen... especially when it comes to cooking meat (making sure it has reached the correct temperature internally etc...). There are ways to help avoid health issues such as cutting meat into smaller chunks and boiling for a little longer on the stove top before placing in the cooker. And of course if you are making your cooker from scratch like we did then you will have to experiment in order to find out what works best for you. As I continue with the experiments (soup next) I will keep you updated on how it turns out...