Thermos cooking for dummies

I have been reading up on thermos cooking over the past few weeks. Thermos cooking is an excellent way to prepare a number of foods with little to no electricity, which is an extremely useful skill to have when the power goes out (you know all about this if you live in a cold climate like me) and you want to eat a warm meal. I set out this past week to make my first thermos meal, and did so without using an ounce of electricity from the power grid.

After looking at the food I had on hand, I thought Mac&Cheese would be a great dish to start with. The setup I used to make my first thermos meal is shown below:

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Here are the items in the picture:

Thermos Nissan wide mouth thermos – This is the thermos I used to cook the macaroni.
Snow Peak Titanium cup – Heavy duty titanium cup used to boil water.
Bernzomatic torch – Lighting apparatus for the fuel cubes.
Esbit pocket stove – Cooking base that your fuel cubes sit on.
Esbit fuel cubes – Fuel cubes that produce the heat needed to heat the cup the boil water.
Honeyville cheese powder – A ready to go cheese flavoring in powder form.
Organic Valley Powdered milk – The best tasting dehydrated milk I’ve been able to find.
Organic Ghee – Delicious tasting ghee which I use as a butter substitute.
Dried macaroni – Good old fashioned elbow macaroni.

To get started I placed one esbit fuel cube on the pocket stove. Next, I lit the cube with my lighter and placed my snow peak cup on top of it (the cubes burn hot so make sure you light them in a safe place outside your home!). The flame was bigger than I initially thought it would be and the cup heated up in no time flat:

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When the fuel cube quit burning I pulled the lid off the cup and noticed that the water was just luke warm. I lit a second fuel cube and set the snow peak cup back on the fire. When the second cube finished burning, the water was definitely warm enough for cooking.

I measured a cup of macaroni and placed it in the thermos along with the water that I boiled over the esbit stove. After stirring up the contents of the thermos, I put on the lid and let it sit for an hour. When I opened the thermos at the end of an hour I was dissappointed to find that the noodles had turned to mush. Bummer! Since I didn’t want mush and cheese, I decided it was time for a “do-over”. Emptied the thermos, burned through two more esbit fuel cubes and boiled another batch of water. When the water was warm enough I added it to the thermos along with a fresh cup of dried macaroni. This time I left it for 30 minutes, and came back at the 15 minute mark to stir up the contents. Success! This time the macaroni wasn’t mush!

Next I strained the macaroni and threw it into a metal bowl along with 3 tablespoons of cheese powder, 3 tablespoons of milk (I made a batch of milk by dissolving one tablespoon of powdered milk in one cup of water), a pinch of salt and a tiny bit of ghee. After mixing everything up, I ended up adding approximately another tablespoon of dissolved powdered milk to get the macaroni to the consistency I wanted. The end result was a nice cheesy flavored sauce and macaroni that had a little bit of texture:

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This experiment was a lot of fun, and I learned a number of things along the way:

– Esbit fuel cubes are a pain to light, especially if there is wind.

– Pasta cooks MUCH MUCH faster than I thought.

– Using room temperature water reduces the amount of fuel needed to boil water.

I’m going to try making some more complex dishes over the next few weeks. Next up, some type of bean soup. Yuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmm, Yuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmm, Yuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmm!!!

How to make amazing blueberry waffles

I try to eat healthy, but periodically cave and eat something that wouldn’t be classified as a “health food”. One item I’ve become especially fond of are waffles, especially ones made with blueberries. I got my first taste of one of these bad boys two years ago at a local restaurant, and I was amazed what some blueberries could do to a waffle! I wasn’t amazed with the price though! $7.95 for one blueberry waffle and three strips of bacon? If I was going to enjoy yummy delicious waffles more frequently I needed to look into making my own.

With a budget in mind, I set off to Amazon to find a good waffle maker. There are cheap waffle makers and crazy expensive ones, and after a lot of research I decided on the Proctor-Silex 26500Y. This specific waffle maker had the features (good reviews, low cost, non-stick surface, led to let me know when it was warmed up) I wanted, and it wouldn’t be breaking the bank at $25. So I ordered one and have been experimenting with it for 4 weeks now.

The quality of a waffle is determined by the batter you start with. If you use crappy batter you will get crappy waffles. Since I don’t eat waffles all that much I splurged and got some really good waffle batter. To make blueberry waffles you will first need to follow the recipe on the can to make the base batter. To turn that into blueberry batter I like to dump frozen blueberries that have partially thawed out into the batter. The blueberry juices will work their way into the batter when you mix it all up, giving the entire waffle a hint of blueberry flavor. This gives you something like this:

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Now to the easy part. To make a delicious blueberry waffle you pour a ladle of mix into the waffle maker, set your timer to five minutes and sit back and relax. When your timer goes off you will have a tasty waffle like this:

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I tend to put a little too much batter into the waffle maker, which results in the rough edges shown above (they taste great though!). If you are anal and want a perfectly circle waffle use the exact amount of batter recommended in your waffle makers owners manual. Waffles are definitely a treat around here, and with the depressing events that are occurring everywhere we need things like this to inject some happiness into our lives.