The Haybox is an old way of cooking with less fuel. You start cooking your food in a pot, then transfer the pot to an insulated box for long, slow cooking. It's like a slow cooker you don't plug in.
Modern materials have led to new interpretations of the old principle. The objective is still the same - to save energy and money while cooking. My bean bag cooker is the best haybox yet because..
...replacing hay with the super efficient polystyrene insulation in kiddies bean bags keeps food hot all day without using any energy and they're cheap (I found mine in my kids' bedrooms). Also,.....
...one size fits all - the bags mould themselves to any size and shape. You prepare, cook and serve from the same pot, so saving on washing up. And finally you don't even have to make anything.
It's best for dishes that benefit from long slow cooking (stews with tough cuts of meat or dried beans or rice). Use any casserole recipe - Google slow cooker and thermal cooker recipes for ideas.
As a rough guide to size, put all the dry ingredients in to your pot see if they fill it. Bigger meals in full pots will stay hot longer - more thermal mass. Using heavy pots will store more heat too.
Make your stew or casserole. Bring to the boil, partially cover and simmer for 15 minutes to heat it through. The simmering corresponds to a slow cooker's half hour on high, before switching to low.
Make a nest for the pot with a bean bag and a board or some newspaper to protect the fabric from hot metal.
Carefully nestle the pot full of hot stew into the centre of the bag.
Completely cover with the second bag and leave to cook for 4 - 6 hours or all day. It will stay hot until you're ready. Use slow cooker recipes on low setting as a guide to timing.
Take the pot out of the bag and check everything is cooked through, then serve. The beef stew was delicious but the ravening hoards wolfed it down before I thought to take a pic - sorry.
If you've only got one bean bag, nestle the pot a little deeper and cover with an old pillow. If you need to slow cook two pots at the same time, stack two bags with a pot in each and a pillow on top.
That's it. I hope it was useful and tasty. Thanks for reading.
- Two kiddies bean bags
- A cooking pot with a close fitting lid
- A wooden board or a couple of layers of newspaper