Had a happy day at home today “experimenting” with making the pattern, tutorial and prototype of the Thermal Cooking Bag we were chatting about last night.
A day at home ….. cos DS1 finally succumbed to the lurgy that DS2 has last weekend and I had mid-week. You know sometimes it like a ruddy tag-team in this house!!!
But – TA-DA!!!!! It got made ….. and its PINK!!!! Well it matches the 99p walls in my kitchen and I like it so there!
One old sheet from the attic and a carrier bag full of polystyrene beads was what this took in the end … and although the “method” of making the prototype evolved throughout the day the “by eye” first pass at a pattern worked out pretty good. In fact the only change is to make the outside layer a little longer so that there is more to pull over the top when you pull the drawstring.
So my scribbles on a piece of paper yesterday ……………………..
…………….. began to take shape late last night ……….. channel for drawstring, quadrants for stuffing all in place.
A pad for the base of the bag and one to act as a lid quickly sewn up and stuffed with polystyrene balls. (Horrible stuff to play with you know ….. it looked like the winter Olypmics in here for a while)
But the segments got stuffed ………. and a strong cord made and threaded through the channel ……. and suddenly it begins to look a whole lot more promising.
So ……………. time to test drive the beastie …………… which is when things started to get interesting in the kitchen as both my Mum and the lodger started hovering to see how it would all work out.
So – for the first trial I decided to go “plain and simple” …… after all its all very well making fancy dishes but what I wanted to test was would it cook a rather rough cut of beef into melting tenderness? So a beef and barley stew was decided on – and that beef is blade BTW – not a tender cut at all but cheap from the butchers with plenty of marbled fat to render out and leave the beef “hopefully” soft enough to eat from a spoon.
Why barley? Because barley in stews is traditional here and because I have six bags in my store cupboard and I am always looking for yummy ways to eat it. Also because it then makes dinner a real one-pot meal – protein, veggies and carb all in one pot. Next time I might try it with potatoes instead.
Started off in the usual way – brown the beef, saute the veggies … add 5 tablespoons of barley and cover with boiling water. bring up to the boil and put the lid on and boil for ten minutes so that the contents and the pot are nice and hot.
Lift the pot into the “nest” cover with the fabric lid and pull the sides in nice and tight with the drawstring ………….. and leave!!! Which is easier said than done as I was itching to take a peek inside but they say that if you look you lose the heat and this is all about conserving the heat after all.
I did so want to peek though!!!
At 6pm ……. we took a long anticipated peek ………….. then we took a taste!!!
Oh Boy!!!! I can’t believe that this only took ten minutes of boiling on the hob.
The veggies were cooked (but not mushy – which makes sense as veggies need to cook at a higher temperature than beef to get soft).
The barley was soft but not all breaking apart – which can sometimes happen even in the most gentle of simmers.
The beef really was so soft you could squidge it between your fingers and it fell apart. the fat had indeed rendered out leaving just soft chunks behind in a thick and fragrant gravy (after all there has been no evaporation during cooking so all the flavour is left in the sauce.
And after 5 and a half hours of “cooking” it was all still hot enough to eat ………….. not at boiling temperature but hot enough that you get a plume of steam when you first open the lid which is plenty hot enough unless you want to melt your false teeth LOL.
Conclusion – my gast is utterly flabbered Elantan!!!! I thought you had gone just a wee bit potty when you suggested this but I am so glad that you persuaded me to have a go and make a prototype.
Time and time again we hear of families in this country that cannot cook cheap food from scratch because of the prohibitive cost of fuel. Cheap cuts of meat are cheap enough … but to have your oven on for hours to casserole it into a state where it’s tender enough for your kids to eat it without gagging is beyond a basic budget.
TEN MINUTES!!!! Ten minutes of boiling and then into the bag!!!! If I were cooking with one eye on the electricity key-card i would definitely want someone to make me one of these. My head is just buzzing – can you tell?
I am off up to my office to finish the write-up for the tutorial and tweak the pattern – it will be up and available on the site tomorrow but I have left a button here for anyone who wants to order one now.
I will send the tutorial right out to you as soon as it is finished. It’s finished and ready for everyone to save, save, save!
……. but I think I want to make a quick plea. If you buy a tutorial, what I would like more than anything is that you make one for yourself and them make one to give away to someone that would really benefit. Think of the money this could save someone really struggling to make great food for their family!
TEN MINUTES OF FUEL!!!!! How fabulous is that ??? walks out of kitchen shaking head!!!!
There are now dozens of thermal cooking bag recipes on the site, so take a gander at all the wonderful food you can whip in minutes!