Traditional cooking to save energy/money

A month ago I attended a discussion about how we can live more lightly on the world.  This has been a long-time theme among Quakers, from the time of George Fox (whose preaching led to their formation) to now.  Phrases like ‘walk lightly over the world’, and ‘live simply so that others may simply live’ sit comfortably in such discussions.

One of the suggestions I made during the brain-storming about actions we might take was to use a haybox for cooking.  I rigged one up for us (out of a banana box, old duvet and a towel) a year or so ago and regularly use it for cooking stews.  

One of the others in my group said her mother had used one as a child.  I was therefore delighted to hear yesterday that she has now made herself one.  It is in almost daily use and I think rather more imaginatively than mine.  Hers is smaller – and this size convenience might be an advantage – and uses paper and and scrap expanded polystyrene for insulation.  Maybe I now need to be inspired to experiment with more haybox cookery…

The basic principle is to heat the food that wants cooking thoroughly and then keep the heat in while the cooking happens, rather than adding more all the time.  So I heat the meat (when used) and veg in the casserole, add the water/stock and bring to the boil.  Then I put on the lid and lower into the haybox and cover over.  Leave it for an hour or more (reheating on the hob if needed) till cooked.  Only fine meat like mince can be cooked from raw like this, and kidney beans will still need boiling for 10 minutes to destroy the toxins before adding to the stew.

Incidentally British Quakers have just completed their annual conference – Britain Yearly Meeting – and the concluding epistle from it is on this theme of sustainability.

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