Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Wonder Box Cooker

I wish I could take credit for this whole thing, but I'm just not that smart. Whoever came up with the Wonder Box Cooker, is in my opinion, pure genius. The basic idea behind a Wonder Box Cooker is to make the most efficient use of limited fuel resources. They were originally designed for use in third world countries, specifically Africa, where fuel is limited as are most other resources. The Wonder Box Cooker essentially works like a vacuum flask, keeping food at the required temperature for cooking, using very little fuel. It takes about 10-15 minutes of fuel to bring food to a boil, and then the insulated Wonder Box Cooker will maintain that temperature while the food is thoroughly cooked. On the other hand, it will keep ice cream cold for about 4 hours.
I Also wish I could give specific credit for the following items, but it's been so long since I gathered them, that I'm not aware who should be thanked. I am italicizing the information that has been passed along to me, and the additional instructions that I found online several years ago:

"The Wonder Box Cooker recipes and instructions originated from a booklet published by Compassion of South Africa in 1978,1979 and 1980. Compassion registered the name Wonder Box. This information may be freely quoted, acknowledgments being made to Compassion."

Brief Instructions:
Boil your food on the stove for 10 – 15 minutes until the food is heated right through. (In practice this is too long.)

Use any cooking pot, provided it does not have a long handle, but do not use a large pot for a small amount of food. The W'box does not work well if there is a large air space. Remember that the more food or liquid that you have in the pot, the longer and better it will cook.

Put the lid on the pot before you remove the pot from the stove so the lid can also get hot. Make sure the nest in the bottom cushion is ready to take the pot and that it is nearby so you do not lose heat carrying the pot around. Place pot into the nest of the W’box, making sure that the sides are snug against the pot, so there are no air pockets. Quickly cover the pot with the top cushion, making sure there are no gaps or air pockets. Make sure that no one peeks inside. If this happens, heat will escape, and the food will not cook properly.

Do not leave the Wonder Box Cooker on a metal surface while it is being used. Metal is a good conductor of heat and may draw off some heat through the bottom.

When cooking anything like a roast or a whole chicken, the liquid around it can boil before the meat has reached the same temperature. Make sure the liquid covers the meat and it has come to a boil. Meat must be covered with liquid! The cooking time seems to be 3-4 hours, or all day. It is sure to never burn.

Note: We had a chicken that was put in at 9:30 in the morning before church. This single dad prepared the chicken by placing it into an oven-cooking bag. He added spices to the chicken closed the bag completely (no added moisture was added to the bag) then brought the pot of water with the chicken in, to a boil and put it all in to the W’box. We ate with him at 4:00pm and as he tried to carve the chicken that was well cooked; the steam was ‘rolling’ off the chicken. It was still so hot he worked with forks to carve it. Nb: the opening to the bag was left protruding from under the lid.

The Wonder Box Cooker was designed for cooking meals, but it can also be used for keeping food hot, cold or frozen for 3-6 hours depending on what it is For example, frozen meat will stay frozen longer than a tub of ice cream.

The cushions filled with polystyrene can be washed with hot water and soap and hung on the line to dry.
For obvious reasons, the Wonder Box Cooker can be an integral part of your family preparedness plan, since it would help stretch a limited fuel/energy supply in any kind of emergency situation. If you would like to incorporate this little gem into your family's preparedness plan, see my other posts, The Wonder Box Cooker Tutorial and Wonder Box Cooker Recipes.

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