Friday, March 9, 2012

Slow Cooking

Some better news today: Can Slow Cooking Change Lives? (The Guardian)

I made a batch of chilli last night. Two, actually. One went into a very sleek and impressive slow cooker that Cuisinart sent me, the other into a brightly patterned, spongy bean bag of an oven called a Wonderbag. After six hours, both gave me a rich, smooth stew, and though the slow cooker's was probably richer and smoother, the Wonderbag's was more impressive for a number of reasons.

"Eco cooking that's changing lives," they call it. I honestly can't remember when I last felt this positive about a recent addition to the kitchen. The principle is: you start your cooking on the stove, get everything hot then stick the whole pan in the Wonderbag, which is well insulated and will allow the food to continue cooking for up to 12 hours. Rice takes about an hour; I reckon lamb shanks would need two or three.
The article points out that this is just a high-tech haybox, so I'm not sure why this can't be done on a more low-tech level, without all the fancy "enterepreneurship" involved. I guess we need to have "growth" industries, even if it's making things for poor people that they could make for themselves. There was a good article about hayboxes on The Archdruid Report last year:

Fireless cookers will not save the world. They aren’t even a complete solution to the problem of finding adequate cooking fuel, though they make a good many other responses more viable by sharply cutting the amount of heat that has to be provided from some other source. In the jargon of the peak oil scene, they aren’t silver bullets, or even silver BBs; they’re simply a useful bit of appropriate tech that can be put to work in order to make an impoverished future a little easier to live with. There are many other things that can be put to work in the same way.

The Haybox Factor

Seems like ideas are catching on. If only North Americans could learn to be as frugal with their energy use. On a side note, I love my slow cooker. It's much less wasteful energy-wise than the stove, and is especially useful in the summer. It's convenient when you want to have something ready when you get home, although you need to have your ingredeints ready in the morning. Whatever gets people cooking at home again is a good thing.

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