Photo by Gbalogh
And we are not referring you to the microwave...
We are talking about an age old trick of cooking that has been used for years underneath the sands of the beach, or the dark soil of the Mid-Americas. Recently I purchased a new home and it was void of one important appliance of which I had become rather accustomed to... an oven. Until we purchased a stove, we quickly learned that there are a variety of creative ways to cook with alternative energy, using a minimum of electricity or gas, and a hot box is certainly one of our favorites, least expensive, and most tasty.
How it Works
The way a hot box works, is it is basically a well insulated area (box, drawer, underground pit, etc.) of which you can place a warm pot of food and allow to cook for several hours. This is a similar theory to the crock pot, except it functions on its own without the need of any electricity what-so-ever, other than whatever means necessary you used to get the pot warm in the first place.
How it is Made
An easy way to make one of these is to take a large cardboard box and then insert a smaller cardboard box within the larger box. Then in between the space of the two boxes, you fill it with insulation. Your choice of insulation can range from towels and sleeping bags to foam board and straw. Once your box is made, you are ready to prepare a meal to be cooked in the box.
How to Cook with a Hot Box
The recipes that work best with a hot box are roasts, stews, chili's, and casseroles. You should begin with a pot that will fit snug in your box, and heat it over fire, a stove, or whatever you have available. Put in all the ingredients and get the pot nice and hot. Then put the lid on the pot with its ingredients, place it snugly in your homemade insulated box, and let it slow cook for several hours (generally 5 to 8).
Slow cooked meals within a hot box are delicious. The meat comes out tender and moist, practically melting in your mouth. The vegetables keep their color, taste, and form, and won't just turn to mush as they can when overcooked on a stove top. You can even cook rice and pasta this way.
Not only will you be saving energy, but you will be engaging in a traditional and very effective form of cooking that has been passed down from families for centuries!
Planet Save: Take Action to Save Energy: Cooking with an Insulated Hot Box (http://planetsave.com/blog/2008/10/09/take-action-to-save-energy-cooking-with-an-insulated-hot-box/)