I decided to play with an old sailor’s trick and cook part of my dinner in a Thermos. The idea struck as I was putting water on for tea just after lunch, and it struck me I could use the hot water for two purposes.
Since I was going to be eating alone this evening, I pulled out one of the 10 oz single serve Thermoses we had for the kids’ lunches and dumped in 1/2 cup of sprouted rice & quinoa pilaf (bought at Costco). Then when the water reached a full boil, I filled the Thermos and screwed on the lid. Then I made my tea and went off to do errands.
That was it.
By the time I was ready to eat dinner, the pilaf was cooked to perfection and was still plenty warm enough to melt butter. I had it with some leftover roast chicken and a few blueberries. (Wish I’d remembered to take a picture.)
Sailors cook all sorts of grains and beans in the large widemouth thermoses because fuel is precious at sea. Landlubbers use the trick to save money on their utility bill. Presoaked black beans take about 8 hours in a good (metal or glass, not plastic) Thermos. Rolled oats put in a Thermos with boiling water at bedtime gives you hot oatmeal at breakfast time. Dry noodles, a bouillon cube, some minced onion and boiling water gives you a basic noodle soup in about 20 minutes (with egg noodles, you can keep it hot for hours). Get creative and add dried veggies or fruits and seasonings to your basic ingredients to make a meal. (For instance, start some lentils with extra water, then after an hour or so, add rice, cumin, and onion for a hearty lentil and rice dish that will give you stick to your ribs, complete protein.)
One thing I forgot to do was preheat my Thermos with hot tap water. Doing that would have kept my pilaf even warmer.
Of course, you might not have warm tap water, like many folks on the East Coast right now, and when you do manage to find a way to boil water, you may have limited access. Use a bit of your precious hot water to warm your Thermos, then dump the water into a bowl to use to wash up and use your pre-warmed Thermos to make a hearty meal that will keep warm for hours. Even if all you do is heat some canned soup or hot water for later, you’ll be happy you did. When you’re under stress, a warm meal goes a long way toward making you feel secure again.
After my simple success today, I’m going to buy a couple of larger wide-mouth Thermoses so I can cook a lot more things this way. As oil prices go up and we come to grips with what we’re doing to the planet, saving energy is going to be more important. And face it: this is an easy one. With delicious results.