As soon as GrammMary emailed me about the WonderBag and I researched it, I wanted one! That way I can use the solar oven if we have sun and a thermal cooker for the Deadwood rocket stove. One pot meals that I can walk away from and do other things. But I didn’t want to have to go through that much work with sewing patterns, etc. So, here is Bev’s no-sew version of a thermal cooker.
So how did I go about making my DIY WonderBag? First I knew I wanted a box to keep the critters out of the food and for clean and easy storage. I had picked up this cute little plastic chest after Halloween for $2.50 at Walmart, but didn’t have a use for it. I had already run the Mylar around a cup of boiling water experiment and was pretty sure this would work, but I still needed padding. As I was wondering around the Salvation Army used store I ran into baby bumpers for $2 – right within my budget!
So I had already bought a tub of border adhesive (a large quantity of white glue basically) to play with Mylar on my shades, so I used a disposable brush and coated the inside of the chest and lid with border adhesive and adhered the Mylar to that – went very well and made me look forward to the shade project. Then I washed out the brush. :-)
The baby bumper actually worked out slick as it was about the right height going around and about right under and on top. As you can see, I had leftover so I made up extra covers as heat rises. No sew, just tuck.
On the same trip I had picked up some Graniteware for my solar cooker. The Granitewear all fits as does my cast iron Dutch oven. So far so good – considering I never measure anything if I can get away with it. I lined it with another sheet of Mylar to be gathered at the top and secured with a twist tie.
I decided on the Dutch oven for this experiment, since I hadn’t washed the Granitewear yet. And knowing that Mylar will melt at 212 degrees I put a pad on the bottom and “diapered” my pot with a leftover piece of blue jean fabric – I do like to be color coordinated! LOL :-D
So then I decided to do a “waste not want not” meal – Every leftover in the fridge along with frozen pork chops that I nuked enough to get them apart. Boiled for a little less than 20 minutes – seemed plenty hot to me. Diapered the pot, set it in the thermal cooker (I put a meat thermometer in there just to see.), wrapped the Mylar around it, twist tied that, put the extra bumpers over it, and put the lid on the chest.
Bob woke up about then and commented on the delicious smell and asked what I was cooking. “Pork chops,” I said so innocently. I have learned not to tell Bob what I am cooking or he won’t necessarily eat it – goes back to when I butchered that filly that broke her leg and served him “Blaze”. Told him about Blaze after he enjoyed his meal – ya, didn’t go over too well…
Four and a half hours later, I have…
A WONDERFULLY AWESOME TOTAL SUCCESS!!!
Wow, the Dutch oven was still too hot to touch with just my hands and the meat thermometer read 150 degrees after 4.5 hours with no heat!!! The meat was super tender and moist and the accompanying “stew” just needs some more doctoring with a few herbs.
Bob watched me take it out of the chest and asked me what heat source I was using?! “Nothing,” I said rather confused as he could see it was sitting in the middle of the living room floor – no cords, no fire, nothing, just a black box.
“So how does it cook?” he asked. As I explained the concept of thermal cooking his eyes glazed over and I could see I was being tuned out. All he wanted was his dinner…
- A plastic box, Mylar, a blanket or anything for padding.
- Probably doesn’t need the extra Mylar.
- Probably cooks in a lot less time if I had bothered to check it.
- No electric used.
- Faster and easier than a traditional electric crock pot.
- After thoughts… I don’t think you need to boil something 20 minutes in a Dutch oven. Get it hot and let it do its job.
- How can this be used? Think about a camp stove or rocket stove – camping, on the road cooking, anything you can do in a crock pot or Dutch oven you can do with this thermal cooker/oven!
Now I just need to figure out how to make an oven for my rocket stove as I like my bread with a brown crust… Metal breadbox? Broken toaster oven? We’ll just have to see what I run across.
All this in a blizzard with thunder snow and lightening – will my roof cave in?