Thursday, April 30, 2009

What the haybox?

After the rave reviews of my chicken soup (Teddy asked where I got the great recipe from), I was searching online for more thermal cooker recipes. Yes, I have slow cooker cookbooks, but I wanted to see what else was out there.

I found this cool site today, and got immersed in various methods of fuel efficient and fuel-free cooking. I've read about solar cookers before, and ever since hearing the phrase, "Hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk", I've been fascinated by the idea of cooking with the sun. My only venture in this area has been making sun tea using a big clear glass jar on days when the temp goes over 100 F. My sister-in-law introduced me to that practice--and it's wonderful on a hot summer day.

But honest to gosh cooking of real food--using NO energy at all? Way cool concept! I found these pages today that I am itching to try some weekend when we are not running around like maniacs with chores and kid activities (my calendar says this should occur on the next blue moon when Venus enters the house of whatever...)
There are tons of other kids solar cooker projects on Google, check 'em out!

Back at that first site, I'd never heard of a haybox before, but now I have! DH was wondering what was really the difference between our new fancy-schmancy thermal cooker, and putting one of our regular pots inside one of our ice coolers. My first thought was, well, would styrofoam melt from the heat? After reading about hayboxes, and how they were used during WWII to conserve cooking oil, I think DH's initial instinct was right. We could use our cooler the same way, if we had enough insulating material to fill up all the air, and some mylar to keep the hot pot from melting it. We may keep an eye open at the summer yard sales to find something to experiment with. Of course, an old cooler stuffed with styrofoam pellets is not as nice to bring to a pot-luck as our thermal cooker, but it would be fun to test out.

In order to put a rational spin on my obsession with fuel-free or low fuel cooking, I have 3 good reasons, allowing me to deny my OC tendencies...
  1. We live in California, and someday a big earthquake may cut off our access to fuel for a few days, so cooking with the sun would be a handy skill
  2. We like to go camping in the summer, and this could save from using up so many of those little fuel cans. Plus frees people from babysitting the food cooking on open flame, so we can just play in the river instead
  3. It's better for the environment--less fuel burned, less pollution, less drilling needed, etc.
Now, still looking for the perfect dessert recipe...

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