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In an emergency situation, all of the preps in the world would be worthless without a means of cooking them. Sure you could sprout dried beans and eat them raw, but that would probably get old very quickly, especially after the vinegar and olive oil run out. Well, I just came across an interesting collection of articles on making and using of low-tech, no electricity required, insulated thermal cookers. It also includes instructions and a pattern for making a Wonderbox, which is a washable, quilted insulated cooker (Hmmm, I don't sew, my sister does, so now I know what to ask for Christmas). There are also several period fireless cookbooks, which have all kinds of interesting information. All of these cookers can be used at any time in place of a crockpot, and not just during an emergency
 

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I have an antique one called a Peerless Waterless Cooker. It looks a lot like a large trunk on the outside. The top is made from two side-by-side lids which when open reveal a round hole. Honestly, most people guess it is some kind of indoor toilet! In the bottom of each hole there is a round stone about 2-2.5 inches thick with a hole in the middle of that to lower it. Then there are two covered metal kettles that fit perfectly into the holes. The whole interior is covered in metal (zinc or tin?) but the outer "box" is all walnut. There are latches on each lid so you can tighten them down really well.

You can see one here, near the bottom of the page under Stoves. It is a one holer, mine is a two holer. http://www.antiquefever.com/kitchen_and_dining.html

I haven't used it in a long time for cooking. I think I might try it again to refresh my memory. And I think I will try to find some newer kettles so that I know what metal they are made of and that they are safe.

Although they are called fireless cookers, you do still have to have a source of heat to get the food up to the necessary temp (or in my case, to get the cooking stone up to temp), then the insulation helps to keep enough residual heat in to finish the cooking. So more like low amounts of fuel rather than fireless.

I question the value of this type of cooker in longer term situations. If you have enough heat to bring your food up to boiling, why wouldn't you just continue to cook it on that heat source until it is done? It would cook much more quickly. I guess the main value would be in situations where you didn't have much fuel or didn't want to keep an open fire going (but it takes a LOT of fire to get something up to boiling--I would think your location would have already been compromised.) Or perhaps if you couldn't remain nearby to tend your fire or food. There are certainly some good applications, but not for every situation. I think it would be good only if I could remember to evaluate whether it was truly the BEST cooking option each time I used it.

My primary Go To cooking sources in emergency situations are my indoor woodstove and our outdoor fire grate and kettle tripod. I am also looking into a good solar cooker that could be used when we have enough sun.
 

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I've gotten some of these ideas reading a book on trans-ocean sailing. Things like solar ovens, solar water distilleries, and insulative cooking is the rule out on the ocean, because once you run out of fuel, you don't have anywhere to stock up. I've tried insulative cooking for beans and it works well. What you save on fuel you make up with time. You may never think of doing this if you are cooking on a woodstove, but if you're trying to cook with a single bottle of propane it makes a lot of sense.
 

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I think this kind of cooking can make a lot of sense. It requires less fuel to get a pot up to boiling than it does to keep it there for hours while the beans cook. If you are using a solar cooker (the parabolic kind that provides high heat quickly, not the solar oven type that is the equivalent of a slow-cooker), you can quickly get the pot to boiling and then let it finish in the hay box cooker or other insulated cooker while you go do other things, rather than having to constantly watch, and re-position, the solar cooker.

The sun may be available for a solar cooker for half an hour or so, then heavy cloud-cover moves in -- put your food in the insulated cooker to finish cooking. Fuel may be extremely expensive or even hard to come by -- quickly get the pot up to boiling, then let it finish in the insulated cooker. If you are concerned about your position being given away, a very brief use of a small camp stove will be safer than keeping a fire going all day long.

Cookers that are efficient on fuel and don't have any visible flames (for security) include kelly kettles and samovars -- I've been watching the samovars on eBay, and hope to get one before too long (partly because I think they are neat!). Hobo stoves are cheap, use little fuel (and what little they do use is twigs), and also have no visible flame. You can also heat some rocks up and bury your food in a heated pit in the ground with the hot rocks -- a pit barbeque, but on a smaller scale.

Kathleen
 

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i have an insulated shipping box from one of the fedex like companies that i use as a haybox. it has about 2" of blue foam insulation, and a reflective mylar liner that reflects the heat back in. once i measured it, and after getting my pot boiling for about 5 minutes and putting it in the haybox, it was still 160 degrees about 2.5 hours later.

I use it to make beans, and soup stock, and it works well, since I don't have to leave the gas stove on low for 1-3 hours. probably anything that you leave on a stove, or cook slowly in a crock pot, would work well in a haybox.

--sgl
 

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Ovsfarm, we saw one of the waterless cookers at the Living History Farms just outside Des Moine IA some years back. The docent, a lady in period costume, said it was commonly used when the wife needed to work in her garden, be away all day, etc. I have an old steamer trunk in the shop and this has given me some ideas about its future. It would be very easy to fit with rigid insulation and used as a waterless cooker. I had gotten it to refurbish and store woolens.

Love my solar oven but I can also see a lot of use for the solar "hot plate" Kathleen mentioned.
 

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Sure you could sprout dried beans and eat them raw
Not if you wanted to live and stay healthy, you couldn't.

All the common raw beans are poisonous. You've got to boil them for ten or fifteen minutes to de-activate the poison.
Bean sprouts are ONLY made using the Chinese mung bean, which is only distantly related to everything else we think of as beans, and doesn't contain the poison the common beans do.
 

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Not if you wanted to live and stay healthy, you couldn't.

All the common raw beans are poisonous. You've got to boil them for ten or fifteen minutes to de-activate the poison.
Bean sprouts are ONLY made using the Chinese mung bean, which is only distantly related to everything else we think of as beans, and doesn't contain the poison the common beans do.
Yes! Because the legumes are so nutritious, God gave them some pretty potent defenses against being over-eaten and decimated! This is why livestock can't have more than a small percentage of soy in their diet (and why humans shouldn't eat a large percentage of soy in their diets!).

Kathleen
 
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