After a few days of meltdowns over my birthday, I thought I would write a more positive post. For though there are many days when I feel… discouraged, to say the least, that is not all of my experience. It may even seem that my moods swing so far, and so often, that I could be said to have bi-polar disorder. I don’t. It just happens that I have been given strong doses of sensitivity and empathy, which means I am strongly impacted by life as it happens to me, as well as when it happens to others.
As I have mentioned in the past, I am not great at doing reviews. This isn’t even my purpose. Yet I wanted to share this because it fits so well with who I am. About a week ago, I ordered this off of Amazon, and received it in the mail.
It is called a Wonderbag. Basically it was developed for women in Africa, who were spending hours every day cooking over a wood fire. Not only was this time consuming, but dangerous. Fumes from the fuel were being inhaled, as ventilation was not adequate. Many children, often under the age of 5 were dying from this. Even those who didn’t die were strongly affected with poor health. Burns. Fires. Hours spent cutting and gathering wood. Something needed to be done.
This was not a new concept. In the depression times, in order to conserve fuel, ‘hay boxes’ were used. Basically they would dig a hole in the ground, fill it with hay, and put in a pot full of boiling food in order to finish cooking without fuel.
For this, it is a cloth bag, with foam pellets for insulation in between the layers. So what I do, is start the food cooking on the stove (stews, soups, grains… things that can be made in a slow cooker) and boil it for about 10 minutes, depending on the type of food. Then I take the entire pot, with a tight fitting lid, and put the whole thing in the wonderbag. It has a separate section to cover it, and the drawstring is pulled to fit it tightly over the pot. Then I leave it for up to 12 hours.
That is it! I don’t touch it. I don’t need any more fuel to cook it. It doesn’t plug in. Just a bag insulating a pot to cook my food.
I love the idea. Anything that conserves energy. Anything that helps the environment (less fuel, less wood, less transportation, “less is more!”) Anything ‘off grid’. Anything that helps other people. Anything that saves money. I love it!
What I especially liked about this particular item was that for every purchase, the company would donate one wonderbag to a person in Africa who needs it. So great! Technically I could have made one for myself – but then I wouldn’t have been able to donate one. I liked the idea, and so decided to back the company up.
True, it wasn’t exactly cheap, but not bad compared to the price of appliances. Besides, I had a gift card that I had earned from things I was doing online. I thought this was a good way to use it. But would it work?
That part always makes me nervous. I can really get excited about an idea, but will it work?
The first thing I made in it was vegan quinoa chili. This is something I would make on the stove, and often have cooking for close to an hour. In fact, many of the foods that I cook for myself take about that long to cook. I boiled it for 10 minutes, put it in the Wonderbag, sealed it up for about 5 hours, and when I opened it it was steaming! I could actually see the steam pouring off of it, and I had to use oven mitts to take it out of the bag. And was it good! So good. I ate that for supper, and froze the rest for quick meals later.
That same night I was going to a potluck dinner (I ate early, because potluck!) and made a peach crisp. Though the Wonderbag says ceramic, or Pyrex dishes aren’t a good material to use, I just wanted something to carry it in, and keep it warm. I put it straight from the oven at 6pm, and again had to use oven mitts to take it out close to 8pm, it was that hot!
I think that we are going to have a great relationship, my Wonderbag and I. Right now I have a coconut, cashew, millet curry cooking in my Wonderbag, and I can’t wait to try it!