By Travis Birch
When things are going smoothly at our cabin off the grid, a sit down meal that everyone participates in making is a justifiable reward, those days are few and far between though. Most of our days end with us lucky enough to get a warm bite before we go to sleep to prepare for the next day’s adventure.
Anytime we can multitask, let the cooking do its thing, while we do our thing, it’s a good day. Often times multitask cooking means swinging a chicken or burying a Dutch oven with some coals, or creating a foil pocket that contains an entire meal. My latest discovery, employed by many before me I’m sure, was thermal cooking. Utilizing my thermos to get the job done while I’m taking care of business around the house makes short work of many chores.
A nice simple approach to letting the cooking take care of itself is simply the ‘Thermal Process’. Letting the heat slowly cook the meal as it sits. For this you need a few simple items that you may have around the kitchen, or are simple to get.
A quality thermos that has a proven track record for doing its job. Something that will hold a steady temperature over a long period of time. Next is a jarring funnel. A tea kettle and easy to prepare meals.
First make sure that you thoroughly clean your tools. With any prepared food you want to take it to a kill step. This is a process that will kill and stop any type of typical yeast, mold and bacteria from growing. For this application that will be the boiling water.
Heat the water in a kettle until it boils. Open your thermos and pour about 1-2 cups into the thermos. Swish it around and let sit in there for 3-5 minutes. This will condition the thermos to the heat, and it will begin the warming process. Next you will need to decide what you want to eat later that day. Ideally this is going to be an instant product. One that only needs hot water to finish it.
Some great ideas are oatmeal for breakfast, soup for lunch or something like beans and rice for dinner. These are simply made, and are loaded with protein or carbs to help you stay warm and full while working on projects. Brands like Lipton soup mix, Knorr rice mix or Quaker Oats oatmeal offer a large variety to choose from.
Once the thermos is conditioned, remove the water, and add the instant packet, using a food funnel with the specific water amounts indicated on the packaging. Seal the lid by hand, and put your serving cup over that. Rotate the product inside by rolling the thermos back and forth. Ideally, you will let the thermos sit on its side, and not straight up. By laying the thermos down you are creating more surface space, and allowing the product to come in contact with more of the thermos body inside. This will help cook it thoroughly, giving it an effective kill step, and cooking everything properly.
This process should hold it at temperature for 4-6 hours. The only thing to watch for is opening the thermos. There could be a surge of heat from the contents, and you don’t want to expose yourself directly to that burst. When you are finished, pour some water inside to keep any residue from clinging to the sides and becoming impossible to clean later at home. This project doesn’t reinvent the wheel by any means, it’s just a reminder of how simple it is to reach simple goals during the day.