Did you know that one can cook a full meal with hardly any use of fuel? Of course you will need heat to get the process started, but once your pot full of soup or stew is heated to a boil you can place the whole pot in an insulated box to prevent the heat from escaping, and let the food go right on cooking for hours in its own stored heat.
This age-old method of hay box cooking or heat-retaining cooking is well worth considering. Depending on the food item and amount cooked, the use of a hay-box or fireless cooker saves between 20% and 80% of the energy normally needed to cook food. Wood is becoming less easily available and electricity and paraffin more expensive, so utilising such a method makes a lot of sense. Traditionally a hay-box is made by putting the steaming pot in a wooden box and stuffing hay all around it for insulation. In the modern version you use two cushions stuffed with polystyrene, placed into a big enough cardboard box to contain the cushions. You boil up your food, rice for instance; place the pot between the two cushions, encasing it totally so no heat can escape; after one to two hours the rice is ready to eat.
Ms Leoné du Preez has been using this economical way to cook rice for years. After moving to Clarens, she thought that this might be a good way to help us to save on fuel and time. She contacted Women for Peace who work with the Wonderbox and arranged a demonstration.
Bridget Oppenheimer has brought the Wonderbox project to life. Together with the Women of Peace the concept is being introduced to the communities all over South Africa. It is a non-profit making venture run by voluntary workers, and dedicated to the general well-being and upliftment of people everywhere. The demonstration was held on Tuesday at 12 o’clock at Caledon Flies, kindly made available by Mr Garth Brook.
The team consisted of Mrs Delena Khoza, Mrs Nobantu Mankunku and Mr David Molandzi. They travelled all the way from Johannesburg After their arrival they carried a huge intriguing looking woven basket from their trailer. A set of three gas cookers was set up as well.
The venue filled up quickly and it was standing room only for the latecomers. Ms Leoné du Preez introduced the guests and then the demonstration began in earnest. Mrs Delena Khoza explained the concept and had all those present listening with rapt attention.
Delena showed what the Wonderboxes consisted of and how they worked. She prepared a Wonderbox by making a nest in the bottom triangular shaped cushion to take the pot. Mrs Nobantu Mankunku brought a pot of rice to the boil and after cooking it for about 5 minutes keeping the lid on tightly, placed it into the cushion nest and quickly covered it with the flatter top cushion tucking it tightly around the sides. Peeping is not allowed, as heat will escape and the food will not be cooked properly. Most foods do not overcook and can be left longer.
Mrs Khoza then showed an interesting way to obtain your own polystyrene beads. Just pound some nails through a small flat piece of wood. The nail ends are then scraped across a polystyrene sheet and the beads collected and used as stuffing for the cushions The second part of the demonstration was about the amazing soya bean. Delena explained how versatile this bean is. She used a cup of soaked, drained soya beans which she had minced into grits, then boiled in water for a while. She then poured the mixture through a cloth placed over a bowl and squeezed the cloth to remove the remaining liquid from the pulp. The liquid is the soya milk, so ideal for people with allergies to cow milk, babies with allergy problems and is has been demonstrated that is an effective body building alternative and increase the resistance to opportunistic infections for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The remaining pulp can be used as is, to add to soups, make bread or patties. Or one can let it dry out and use it later as mince by adding a soup stock cube. Mrs Khoza asked for two volunteers to explain all again to see if everybody had paid attention. They did so well that they received a Wonderbox and soya products as prizes.
To round off the demonstration, three big pots were produced from the Wonderboxes. One contained split-pea soup, the other samp and beans and the third pasta and mince.
The food had been prepared at 6 o’clock that morning by the team and placed into Wonderboxes before they left Johannesburg. By the end of the demonstration the food had cooked to perfection, all by only using heat retention.
Everybody queued up and having been given plates, spoons and mugs, the food was served. There was enough for all and credit goes to the cooking skills of Mrs Khoza and her team. Not a morsel was left over. The rice she had prepared at the start was soft and fluffy to the amazement of all and was also consumed with gusto.
Mealtime over, there was opportunity to buy Wonderboxes at R50.00 each, recipe books at R20.00 each and bags containing 2 cups of dry soya beans at R2.00 each. By the time the audience had left, the whole stock of Wonderboxes was sold out.
Everybody had enjoyed themselves so much and it seems that many households will now be preparing meals the economical and healthy way. Mrs Delena Khoza commented that the visit to Clarens has been one of her most successful demonstrations ever and would not hesitate to return to present another one should there be more interest.
Should you wish further information, contact Leoné du Preez at +27 082 347 1379.
[This text was copied from http://functions.safeshop.co.za/View.asp?ID=85915 on March 7, 2009]
Leoné du Preez
Tel: +27 082 347 1379
See Bridget Oppenheimer.