The Thermal Cook – April 2011 Newsletter

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As we go into April and the weather starts to warm up, more and more produce is becoming available, adding to our choice of meals to prepare.

We are looking forward to collecting our next shipment of thermal cookers, top pot, cake tins and bread tins that are on their way by sea. They will be here just after Beaulieu Boat Jumble. This meant that we had to make the decision to cancel the Romsey Motorcaravan Show because off low stock which is a great shame as last year we had a lot of interest.

A couple of weeks ago we had a stand at the British Leisure Show at Windsor. Disappointingly although there was interest the number of visitors and the sales were low. I think that this was not helped by the high price charged to visitors to get in. We will not be there next year.

Liz Clere, a freelance journalist who writes for ‘Sailing Today’, voted Mr D’s Thermal Cooker as top of the ten live-aboard items found at last years Southampton Boat Show, Since then Liz who lives on a boat in India with her partner Jamie has been using her thermal cooker for all sorts of meals. She has been successfully making bread using the recipe I put in the February Newsletter. Jamie sent me an email  saying ” I have just sampled Liz’s first effort at your bread recipe and guess what? It is the best bread we have cooked on the boat yet! It worked really well, I’m impressed. “.

We have booked stands for The Southampton Boat Show, 16th to 25th September, and The Dorset County Show, in Dorchester on the weekend of 3rd and 4th of September. If you can make either of these, please come and see us.

NEW – Thermal Cooking Podcasts

Over the last month I have been setting up a studio to do podcasts. Among the topics we will be covering are:

1. Elderly relatives – leaving meals for them to eat later.

2. Shows reports, both in UK and Australia.

3. Different types of thermal cookers – their good and bad points.

4. Using ‘sous vide’ cooking in a thermal cooker.

5. Recipe of the week.

6. How to use the top pot, bread tin and cake tin.

7. Cooking cakes in a thermal cooker.

8. Cooking fish in a thermal cooker.

9. Cooking times using a thermal cooker.

10. Adapting existing recipes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with podcasts, a short explanation follows. Podcasting is an audio broadcast on the Internet. To listen to it you can “subscribe” to receive the podcast, (rather like you might subscribe to a magazine) and get it delivered each week. There will be more details on the site over the next couple of weeks.

Please contact us by email  if you have any subjects you would like to be covered or if you would like to share your recipes with others.

The history of thermal cooking –  Norwegian Cook Box

In 1867 there was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition a “Norwegian Cook Box” which was lined with felt and contained tin cooking utensils. The food in the tin utensils was to be placed boiling hot in the box and kept there for some time, the heat in the food being retained by the felt lining, thereby thoroughly cooking the food.

A somewhat similar method of cooking seems to have been used by the peasants in Germany when they placed kettles of boiling soup in feather beds to cook over night. The consular report from Germany in 1905 by G. H. Murphy states that Mrs. Bach, wife of the director of the Industrial School at Frankfort, developed and used the Norwegian method of cooking.

“Mrs Bach stated that she has now (1905) been using the hay box for thirteen years, and that it has greatly reduced for her the cares and annoyances of housekeeping. At first she used the box merely for the purpose of keeping finished food warm, but it was not long before she discovered that the process of cooking continued in the box. She soon found that she could finish in the box all boiled and roasted meats, sauces, fish, soup, vegetables, fruits, puddings etc. Of course the box cannot be used for beef steaks, cutlets, pancakes and the like, articles whose chief attraction lies in crispness resulting from rapid cooking on a hot fire, but when food of this kind is being prepared it is a great comfort to the housewife to know that the rest of the meal is ready and hot in the box.”
From the book – “The Fireless Cooker”

What’s in season during April:

MEAT: Rabbit, Spring Lamb and Venison.

FISH: Elvers, Mussels, Oysters, Razor Clams, Salmon, Wild Scallops and Sea Trout.

VEGETABLES: Beetroot, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Chicory, Endive, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Nettles, Onions, Spring Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Radishes, Seakale, Sorrel, Spinach, Squash, Turnips, Watercress and Wild Garlic.

FRUIT: Apples, Forced Rhubarb and Pears.


RECIPE OF THE MONTH: Saigon style spiced lamb:


Vietnam offers some of the best street food in the world.

This simple-to-make dish includes one of the oldest known spices, cinnamon which is the bark of a tree. Arab traders brought it from China in 1700 B.C. Its sweet, warm flavour is a popular spice in Vietnam.




Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 12 baby potatoes or 4 large ones, quartered
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 100g green beans
  • 1/2  shoulder of lamb, diced and most of the fat removed
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp of mild curry powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken in two
  • 1 chili, finely chopped
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 500 ml lamb or vegetable stock
  • Salt and ground black pepper

Preparation method

  1. Heat the oil in the inner pot and add the onions and garlic.
  2. Cook gently for 2 to 3 minutes and then add the lamb. Stir until the lamb is brown all over.
  3. Add the all the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
  4. Bring to the boil with the lid on.
  5. Turn down the heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
  6. Turn off the heat and place the inner pot into the insulated outer container.
  7. Shut the lid and leave to thermal cook for a minimum of 3 hours.
  8. When ready to serve, check the seasoning and then serve with rice.


17th April – Beaulieu Boat Jumble – Beaulieu Hants

This will be the 6th year that we have been at this show. Our stand number 59 is, as usual, in ‘Red Field’ near the refreshment area. We would love to see you there.

Travelling to Beaulieu:
The Boat Jumble is held in Beaulieu, Hampshire, in the south of England between Bournemouth and Southampton.
Road: M27 exit 2, follow blue event signs towards Beaulieu. Postcode for Sat Nav- SO42 7ZN, but please still use signage when in vicinity.
Rail: Nearest station is Brockenhurst (6.5 miles) from which a free shuttle bus is run for the Beaulieu Boat Jumble.

8th May – South Downs Green Fair

The event offers attendees live music plus the chance to explore green issues and solutions, woodland craft demonstrations, lots of fun children’s activities, bushcraft, face-painting, fancy dress parade, local food, beer tent, permaculture, renewable technology, traditional rural skills, tipis and yurts, live music, beer tent, Fair Trade café, The Permaculture Forum with special guest speakers, a fair trade fashion show, green shopping, renewable technology, a seed swap ( bring your plants and seeds), and lots of information and advice.

By Public Transport
: The nearest train station is Petersfield. Numerous connections. Check with
Buses (operated by First Hampshire) come from Portsmouth and Horndean every 20 minutes to Clanfield.
New free bio diesel minibus shuttle from Clanfield and Petersfield. Please phone for details.
By car: From the A3 take the Clanfield exit and follow the signs.
By Bike:There are bike sheds to park your bicycle.
20th – 22nd May – Southern Motorcaravan Show – Newbury Showground, Chieveley, Berkshire, RG18 9QZ

A Warners event since 2003 entering its ninth year at The Newbury Showground. 200 exhibitors attend the event each year catering for our 10,000 visitors needs.

Travelling to The Southern Motorcaravan Show: The Newbury Showground is situated just off the M4 at Junction 13, where it crosses the A34, close to the towns of Newbury and Oxford.
Follow signposts to the showground or The Motorhome Show.  The postcode of the venue is RG18 9QZ
If you are visiting for the day, please follow the temporary signs which will take you to the car park which is FREE.


“We are still living on our boat in Liege, Belgium. I use the thermal cooker regularly and love it.
We have friends who come over from the UK to their boat in our marina and I always prepare a meal in the thermal cooker for their arrival,
As I do not have to worry about what time they will arrive as the meal will no spoil.
I have also used the cake tin and the ginger and carrot cake were lovely. Your recipes book is really good and we particularly like the biryani and the poached herb chicken. I find that Tarragon is really good in this chicken dish.

Hi Dave,
We had the lentil roast last night. Another winning recipe! As a (mainly) vegetarian it was right up my street. Keep the recipes coming!

Brilliant! It arrived yesterday, I tried a Chili Con Carne this morning – well sort of, as much as I had the ingredients listed in the recipe book (the lemon is a brilliant touch). Brought it together (dried beans soaked overnight) and put it in the thermal pot at 0810 this morning. We liberated it at 1310 this afternoon, core temperature of 71oC – eight degrees higher than the safe temperature for keeping food hot! Perfectly cooked, really brilliant!
This has to be the ultimate in portable “work” food – imagine feeding a working party on the hill this way? Hot “gluhwein” for social occasions? Thick hot broth out in a fishing boat? Preparing stock at home, of course. Millions of good ideas, but particularly where one is miles away from an electric socket. Next step is to try to cook a steak-and-kidney pudding on the way out to the wild somewhere. What a picnic dish that would be!