Welcome to Camp Test Kitchen!

My name is Katy and I love to camp and cook!  I like to challenge myself to cook healthy (most of the time) and tasty meals while camping.  We live in New Hampshire and camp most weekends when the weather is cooperating.   I like to find and test new and alternative methods of preparing meals while on the road that compliment the unique needs of camp cooking.  While reading the camping blog of full-timer Andy Baird (www.andybaird.com) he had a recipe for Broccoli Soup (http://www.andybaird.com/travels/gertie/broccoli_soup.htm) that was prepared in the Thermos Nissan Cook and Carry.  Based on that find, I purchased mine about 5 years ago from Amazon and it still works like a champ.  I purchased another last week for my mother and tested it – it works just like mine! The size of the cooker is roughly 10 inches cube (the box is 11.5 inches cube) and comes in no frustration packaging.

One of my favorite recipes cooked in the Thermos Cook and Carry – a “non-electric crockpot”.  This thermal cooker or “fireless cooker” / “Haybox Cooker” as referred to 100 years ago is great for traveling, boon docking, and picnics.  The simple steps are to brown the meat and aromatics such as onion in the inner pot, add other ingredients just like you would when making a stove top meal and then bring the it all to a boil for 15 minutes.  Next remove the pot from the heat and insert it into the vacuum insulated container.  The food will continue to cook from the residual heat.  You can use your favorite  recipes without worrying about burning or overcooking.  The pot will stay hot inside for 8-10 hours (as long as you start with a basically full pot).  If it is not as hot as you want, you can always reheat. The cook and carry is great for cold things too, like potato salad, fruit salad for potlucks or as an ice bucket!

Tuscan Zuppa (Soup pot on stove version)

Makes: 6-8 servings

INGREDIENTS

1 to 1.5 lb ground Italian sausage (sweet)

½ tsp crushed red peppers (more if you like spicy)

1 large diced white onion

4 Tbsp bacon pieces

2 cloves fresh garlic minced or 2 tsp puree

1 48 ounce can chicken broth

1-cup skim milk (or heavy cream)

2 Tbsp butter (don’t use if using heavy cream)

3 large potatoes cubed or 1 lb cauliflower or combination

1 bunch of kale torn into bit sized pieces (2 inches)

Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. Remove the casing from the sausage.  Sauté the Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in a heavy bottom soup pot.  Drain excess fat, refrigerate while you prepare other ingredients.

2. In the same pan, sauté bacon, onions and garlic for about 15 minutes or until the onions are soft.

3. Add the chicken broth. Cook until boiling.

4. Add potatoes or cauliflower and cook until soft, about half an hour.

5. Add milk and butter (or 1 cup heavy cream) and cook until heated.

6.  Stir in the sausage.

7.  Add kale just before serving. Delicious!

8.  Serve with Parmesan cheese and garlic bread.

Thermos Cook and Carry Version:

Prepare sausage as for crock-pot in the inner pot, drain off fat and set sausage aside.
Prepare onion, garlic & bacon pieces as for crock-pot in the inner pot. Add sausage and remaining ingredients except Kale and bring to a full boil on med high heat, lower heat and boil for 15 minutes. Place lid on inner pot, insert into insulated outer container, lock outer lid and set aside for up to 4-8 hours until ready to serve.

Add Kale just before serving.

Shortcuts and substitutions:

Use pre-cooked sweet Italian chicken sausage cut lengthwise and sliced thinly.
Use pre-cooked bacon cut into small pieces.
Use fresh spinach or defrosted, drained frozen spinach in place of Kale.

Note from Katy about the Cook and Carry:

For the Tuscan Zuppa you can leave it in the cook and carry for probably 8 hours, although cooked at about 4 hours.  If you open it and it is not quite as hot as you want, then just heat it on the stove (or any other heat source – campfire, BBQ grill, etc) until boiling and then put it back in the outer thermos sleeve. The main thing to remember when using the cook and carry is to initially boil for about 15 minutes before putting in the insulated sleeve (to kill bacteria).  If you cook less than a full pot, the temperature falls faster after insertion into the exterior thermos so you will have to heat it up after about 4 -6 hours for 15 minutes (check with a thermometer for temperature).  Specific instructions come with the cook and carry.

Websites related to this topic:

This website has many links to the open library (and Amazon if you wish to buy reprints) where you can look through recipe books and general information on “fireless cooking” from 100 years ago.  Interestingly this method of cooking was embraced because of the low amount of fuel needed, the reduction in labor to stand over a stove while cooking and the low amount of room heat generated while cooking – All the things we want as campers!

http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/category/types-of-thermal-cookers/fireless-cookers/

Two Amazon stores that I find sell the Thermos Nissan 4.5 Quart Cook and Carry are MV Trading and Get Prepared Stuff.  I have purchased from both via Amazon and been very satisfied.