Off-grid cooking method – Here is one we recommend
Editor’s note: I want to welcome Cheryl L (my mom) to the site with her first article! Enjoy!
No matter what you are prepping for, at some point in time food preparation must enter into your preps. I am always trying to find ways to cook using a minimum amount of time, energy, effort, and fuel. So I plan my preps accordingly.
I prefer to keep my life simple and that includes getting everything done in the morning and taking it easy after all the work is done. This is one of the reasons that I decided to purchase a thermal cooker.
Another reason I thought a thermal cooker would be a wonderful idea is for the ease of cooking a meal whether on a regular stove, a rocket stove, an open campfire, or in any emergency situation. We live in tornado territory and I can take a thermal cooker down into the shelter along with the already stored dehydrated meals and water, etc. so that I can prepare them for my family if the need arises. Be it a rabbit dinner or emergency food storage, I feel secure in having the means to take care of them.
I looked and researched on the internet, reading about several different thermal cookers. After some study I finally settled on the Saratoga Jack 7L thermal cooker.
I went with the Saratoga because it received a lot of positive feedback on Amazon, and because it comes with two heavy-duty pans that nestle together for cooking, (cook two separate pots at once) a lid, a cook book and of course the vacuüm cooker.
The Saratoga Jack thermal cooker is simple to use. You follow your regular recipes, bring the temperature to a rolling boil for a few minutes, and then seal the pot in the cooker. And depending on the recipe your food is ready and waiting for you in the evening when you are ready to sit down to dinner.
The thermal cooking process works by trapping the heat from the food in the cooker. The insulation of the cooker keeps the food hot and cooking for several hours without the need for an external heat source. This practice has been used since at least the Medieval period.
My first try with the SJ cooker was with my favorite Mexican Black Beans recipe. I like to experiment with recipes and I felt if this one worked then it would be just what I needed rather than have a hot slow cooker going all day in my summer kitchen. (Yet another reason I wanted a thermal cooker.)
Having soaked my beans overnight, I drained them and put them into the Saratoga Jack pot which comes with the set. I added the water and seasonings, brought to a rolling boil, cut off the heat and placed the pot in the thermal cooker. By bringing it to the boil it will have reached a temperature that will keep the food warm long after it has finished cooking.
Within a short period of time, there was no evidence that I had even prepared anything in my kitchen. Because we are all aware that the wonderful aroma of food cooking can travel a far distance, this can eliminate the possibility of attracting unwanted attention. (Should you find yourself in a grid down situation.)
The added benefits of less energy used is really magnified when you are cooking your food for only 15 to 20 minutes. Couple this with the use of a rocket stove, and you can easily prepare full meals with the use of very little wood.
When the dry black beans were ready 7 hours later, they were fully cooked and the seasoning was just right. Since it was my first time out, I didn’t try to get fancy, but next time I will also cook Spanish rice in the top pot that fits into large one. It will be easy to make a side dish at the same time.
I first read about rocket stoves years ago. Realizing the need to be able to conserve wood in a real long-term emergency setting, I decided to buy one. I bought a StoveTec Rocket Stove a few years back, but I had never used it. It had received rave reviews online, though it is heavy. It weights about 30 pounds. So it is not for hiking. But around the homestead, it would be a great resource. (See video at the bottom of the page.)
When James approached me with the idea to do an emergency dinner in a true “off-grid” style, I was game. We both wanted to try the Stove Tec Rocket Stove. I felt it was the perfect emergency stove because it also uses so little fuel. I also thought this would be a good test for the Saratoga Jack. Because of this I was definitely game for the idea. The only day that we could get together was Mother’s Day.
We decided that since I raise rabbits that we would cook one that had previously been butchered. I don’t have many rabbit recipes, but I searched and found this one: http://www.spiciefoodie.com/2013/03/06/braised-honey-mustard-rabbit-or-lapin-au-miel-et-a-la-moutard/
When I prepared the rabbit, I didn’t cut it into legs and breast pieces, (as shown in the picture on the above link); but instead cut the meat from the bone. Placing the rest of the rabbit into a pot, I made a broth.
James sautéed the meat with the seasonings in the SJ pot on the rocket stove, (see pic on left) and then I added the broth, bringing it to a boil on the rocket stove. Sealing it into the vacuüm cooker , we waited for two hours. Because of the heated broth and his sautéing, we calculated that this would be about right amount of time and it was perfect.
Getting the fire lit in the rocket stove was a bit tricky at first. This was mainly due to the strong Oklahoma wind. Like our state song says, “Where the wind comes sweeping down the plain!”
But once the fire was going, the our little rocket stove brought the broth to a boil and then later sautéed the meat in no time flat.
While the thermal cooker was cooking the rabbit, we used the rocket stove to cook up some rice. Yes, we cheated a little and used instant rice.
Well, I am no Paula Deen, but the Saratoga Jack and Stovetec rocket stove did a great job!
There are quite a few YouTube videos on how to vacuüm cook; as well as rabbit recipes on Pinterest. If you have a favorite rabbit recipe, would you share please?
Stay safe out there!
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(Not my video, but does show the Stovetec in action)