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Alternatives for slow cookers & crockpots

 
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Wonderful, I am going to try the vinegar wash for my stoneware. Along with the water soak before cooking. And rice in the clay pot, definitely going to try that.
😊
 
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Because you here (Megan, Anita) assure me it is possible to use a second hand Schlemmertopf or Römertopf, I finally dared to buy the one that was in the thrift store for a long time. Months ago I saw it, I thought of buying it for use as a plant container. But I didn't. And now I bought it for its real use!
It is in very good shape, as if it has been used only once or so.
Before using it first I soaked it in clean water. for some hours Then I put water with a spoonful of apple vinegar in it. I put it in the oven to cook it clean. It was in the oven for over an hour. I almost forgot it, but then I smelled a nice smell (like scented candles) and remembered it was my Schlemmertopf.
That was yesterday. Today I did the first try with food in it. See the photos


Cutting potatoes (2 large ones, unpeeled, only brushed clean) in cubes, 5 chestnuts (peeled) in halves, and half a parsnip in rounds.
See the Schlemmertopf soaking at the background. (I need a larger dishpan ...)
The vegetables, with some salt, pepper and rosemary, go in it, and water (barely covering the vegetables).


There it goes in the cold (!) oven. Then it is baked for about 30 minutes (the temperature in Fahrenheit is about 380, I think)


Maybe it doesn't look spectacular, but the taste was very good. With it I had the traditional Dutch autumn vegetable: red cabbage with apples. And a little bit of 'hachée' (I mentioned in an earlier post here)
 
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I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet but I have a well insulated bag with a drawstring top that I have been using as a crockpot for a few years. I just bring whatever I want to cook to a boil and let it boil for a few minutes, Then seal it up in the bag. It works beautifully, even on unslaked dry beans. I found a pattern on etsy I believe because I wanted to give some as gifts. It is called HopeSaC on etsy.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Vera Vil wrote:I don't know if anyone has mentioned this yet but I have a well insulated bag with a drawstring top that I have been using as a crockpot for a few years. I just bring whatever I want to cook to a boil and let it boil for a few minutes, Then seal it up in the bag. It works beautifully, even on unslaked dry beans. I found a pattern on etsy I believe because I wanted to give some as gifts. It is called HopeSaC on etsy.


I know such bags (they are sold with different names). They work like a hay-box.
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:Because you here (Megan, Anita) assure me it is possible to use a second hand Schlemmertopf or Römertopf, I finally dared to buy the one that was in the thrift store for a long time. Months ago I saw it, I thought of buying it for use as a plant container. But I didn't. And now I bought it for its real use!


What a coincidence! Yesterday I brought the Römertopf back from my mother's house (or rather one of them - she had two).
It is well-used but not grimy.
I will look into recipes. So far I have seen that you can even bake bread in the Römertopf.

Another thought on the crockpots etc.: For rice or other things I often bring the liquid to a boil and then turn off the heat. The pots I use have a very heavy bottom so they stay hot for a long while. Of course you could combine those with a kind of haysack. I have heard of people putting pots under the down duvet to prolong the cooking process (I also make my yoghurt under the duvet).
The pots my mother uses in Spain and those my MIL used in Latin America look and feel very flimsy compared to those I own and I doubt they would hold the heat as well as mine.
I have one set of these:

and another similar one.
The pots do cost a lot (the one showsn is around 100 Euro, i.e. around 120 USD but they are well worth the price. I got my set as a gift from my aunt when I started my own home and they are still as good as new.
ETA: The shown pot is so expensive because the multilayered bottom contains copper. There are other layered bottoms that contain aluminum (encapsulated by stainless steel on all sides) and these are less pricey.
 
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I actually used the "brick" this weekend.  The farmer's market had adorable little zucchini the size and shape of baseballs, so I used more-or-less the stuffed zucchini recipe in one of the clay pot cookbooks.  Two zucchini fit perfectly with new potatoes tucked in the corners, which also helped the squash stand up.  Very easy, very tasty small elegant dinner for 2.
 
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OK, you guys have inspired me to try an experiment with my Dutch Oven (glazed cast iron type). I've learned from baking bread in it, that pre-heating the pot by putting it in the oven while the oven warms up for a total of a half an hour makes a *huge* difference, so I set my oven at 375F, heated the pot, prepared onion (pre-cooked it a bit) carrots, potatoes and a bit of mushroom. I lifted the hot pot out, took the lamb shoulder roast and used the hot pot to sear the meat on all sized which worked wonderfully. I then dumped half the onion on the bottom, put the meat on top of them, added the rest of the veggies until the pot was full, added dried Rosemary and a splash of Balsamic Vinegar for flavor and to help leach the bones, put the lid on, put it back in the oven lowering the temp to 350F. It only took about 1 1/2 hours for the veggies to be soft, the meat to be cooked and tender, and if I'd had a Haybox, I suspect it could have spent at least an hour of the time in there. The house has been cold, so I didn't mind the heat though.

The only problem was that with dinner taken care of, I got on to another task and wanted to finish it, so the pie didn't get made - hopefully today!
 
Anita Martin
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Leigh Tate wrote:How about a haybox cooker? There's a Permies thread on what it is and how to make one here - Haybox Cooking / Thermal Cooker / Wonder Box. They look pretty easy to make and would seem to be a good alternative to a slow cooker or crockpot.


I have only now taken the time to follow the link to the haybox thread. Thanks for referring to that thread, it was an interesting read!
I think such a haybox/wonder box is the perfect alternative for a slow cooker, and if I understand correctly, a slow cooker or crockpot does need some electricity while the wonder box needs none.

I remembered that the wonder box is called "Kochkiste" (cooking box) in German.
The German inventor Karl Drais (1785-1851, inventor of the bicycle-like Draisine) was the first to build such a box. It only became popular at the end of the 19th century and after that especially during WW1 as it drastically reduced the need of firewood/fuels.
After WW1, the main purpose was to make cooking easier for working women because they could serve hot meals after a working day.

If you are into architecture and design you might have heard of the Frankfurter Kitchen (1926), the first modular kitchen with modern and efficient design - it also included a wonder box.
The first wonder boxes looked like this:

... and then of course there are the homemade ones or high-end customized boxes like for the cooking pot I showed in an earlier post:


I wasn't aware that there are also numerous recipe books (old and new) for the Kochkiste. I never looked in detail because apparently a lot of dishes are heavy on the meat side (we eat little meat), but of course you could also cook rice dishes or Chili sin carne or similar. There are many websites in German on slow cooking with a Kochkiste so I might take a look for inspiration!
 
Anita Martin
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Today I tried to prepare a low energy meal:
I brought the rice to a boil, switched off the heat, then closed the lid with a tea towel between pot and lid and wrapped it in a thicker towel.


I watered the Römertopf, cut up a small hokkaido, some remaining squash, onions, garlic, half a green pepper and a small hot chili pepper. I mixed a can of coconut cream with salt, pepper, some fresh ginger and turmeric with cumin and ground cardamom and put it in the unheated oven.
When the first kid came from school, he said "what a nice smell!". Unfortunately once he was aware that it were cooked veggies his enthusiasms sank.
After I had luch, I put everything back in the oven

When the second kid came back from school over two hours later, the food was till hot. She is a picky eater as well so I had another portion. Well, tonight DH and me will have a big serving.
Semi-success with the kids, bigger success for the cooking methods!
Reis.jpg
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R-mertopf2.jpg
[Thumbnail for R-mertopf2.jpg]
R-mertopf3.jpg
[Thumbnail for R-mertopf3.jpg]
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Hi Anita. It looks very tasty!

I had a Schlemmertopf meal today too. This was the first time I did not put only vegetables in it, but chicken too. I wanted to do it with a whole chicken, but they were too large. Anyway, no problem, three parts of chicken and a mixture of root vegetables went in the pot.

While it was in the oven, I started thinking about the use of the 'haybox' in combination with that ceramic pot. I don't know if that's possible. The haybox (in fact it's wool I have in it as insulation, not hay) probably won't work well if the insulation gets humid. Anyone here tried it???
 
Anita Martin
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote: This was the first time I did not put only vegetables in it, but chicken too. I wanted to do it with a whole chicken, but they were too large. Anyway, no problem, three parts of chicken and a mixture of root vegetables went in the pot.


The smell of today's lunch aroused childhood memories: The dish my mother would prepare most often was called Chicken Basque style. I have to confess I did not like it. The chicken was cut in parts for that dish.

As to keeping the clay pot warm by insulation I can't tell. You could put an old plastic bag over the pot (when it is not piping hot to avoid melting) and cover with a towel then?
 
Jay Angler
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

The haybox (in fact it's wool I have in it as insulation, not hay) probably won't work well if the insulation gets humid.

When I use my cotton/wool oven mitts to insulate the top of my slow cooker, the steam does make them damp and I have to make sure I dry them out afterwards instead of just putting them in their drawer. I expect if you left your "wool" box open in a sunny spot it would dry out fine, but I'd be wary of putting plastic there - the heat from inside could possibly seep out and create fumes. I have a silicon mat for baking and that I would trust under the pot if you think the moisture will weep through the bottom?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jay Angler wrote:Inge Leonora-den Ouden wrote:

The haybox (in fact it's wool I have in it as insulation, not hay) probably won't work well if the insulation gets humid.

When I use my cotton/wool oven mitts to insulate the top of my slow cooker, the steam does make them damp and I have to make sure I dry them out afterwards instead of just putting them in their drawer. I expect if you left your "wool" box open in a sunny spot it would dry out fine, but I'd be wary of putting plastic there - the heat from inside could possibly seep out and create fumes. I have a silicon mat for baking and that I would trust under the pot if you think the moisture will weep through the bottom?


I have such a silicon mat too. I think I can use that.
But the problem is not afterwards ... I can dry the box, and the wool. The problem is: damp wool does not insulate as well as dry wool. Maybe the pot will cool down too quick. I don't know
 
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Inge Leonora-den Ouden

The problem is: damp wool does not insulate as well as dry wool. Maybe the pot will cool down too quick. I don't know  

I smell an experiment coming! All I can suggest is that you try it with a food that's easy to get and cheap. Maybe try cooking that food in the Schlemmertopf and then do the same in a ceramic pot and compare? If there's food there that is steaming, that steam *has* to get out or things explode. There may be more moisture coming out of the Schlemmertopf, but whether it's more than the wool can cope with can be tested. (and hopefully reported on so the others who are using that tool can learn from your experience!)

Putting an absorbant pad between the Schlemmertopf and the silicon mat may help if you think you might actually end up with "drips" rather than just "steam"?
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jay Angler wrote:Inge Leonora-den Ouden

The problem is: damp wool does not insulate as well as dry wool. Maybe the pot will cool down too quick. I don't know  

I smell an experiment coming! All I can suggest is that you try it with a food that's easy to get and cheap. Maybe try cooking that food in the Schlemmertopf and then do the same in a ceramic pot and compare? If there's food there that is steaming, that steam *has* to get out or things explode. There may be more moisture coming out of the Schlemmertopf, but whether it's more than the wool can cope with can be tested. (and hopefully reported on so the others who are using that tool can learn from your experience!)

Putting an absorbant pad between the Schlemmertopf and the silicon mat may help if you think you might actually end up with "drips" rather than just "steam"?


Thank you for presenting the idea of this experiment, Jay!
I can do this with potatoes as the food in both pots. Of course first I'll have to think out how exactly to do it.
 
Inge Leonora-den Ouden
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Jay, (and others) I did the Experiment with Haybox and Two Different Pots.
I made a new thread about it: https://permies.com/t/150474/kitchen/Experiment-haybox-pots

 
Anita Martin
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I am currently decluttering and rearranging successfully in my house (I am a bit proud of myself, or just a coincidence of available time, energy and vision), so I have looked at a lot of utensils in the kitchen, living room and shed and also made pictures for online sales.

In the case of one casserole I wanted to investigate the price ranges first and did an online search.
I was surprised to learn that what I had been given from my aunt once was an Alsatian "baeckaoffa" (Alsace is a region in France that switched between Germany and France various times).
The name is for both the casserole and the dish, a hearty stew of potatoes, other veggies and different meats (I have never eaten it).

It was very interesting to read about the history of that dish:
It was prepared on days where you had a lot of work out of the house, like washing day, haymaking and general field work. After kindling the woodstove and probably baking the bread in the morning, the prepared stew was put in the oven which would still hold the heat for hours.
In the evening, when everybody returned from the field, they enjoyed the meal.

The feature that made this dish unique was that the pot was sealed with dough to contain the flavours.
Here is a pic of the dish (the text does not indicate the dough sealing):
https://www.instructables.com/Baeckaoffa-French-Slow-Cooking/

In any case, I decided to keep the casseroles and find a spot in the meantime to store them (I can't put them on display, too many things already!).
IMG_20201120_090141.jpg
baeckaoffa pots
baeckaoffa pots
 
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