Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Save Money And Be A Hero While You Make Dinner - Hot Pot Cooking

Hot pot cooking is a very old way to save energy or fuel for cooking. It also allows you to do something else while your food cooks. The first time I read about it, I thought they meant, "Crock Pot", instead of "Hot Pot". 

A hot pot is probably a distant ancestor of the crock pot, but only requires heat to start the cooking process, so uses much less heat, energy or fuel to do the cooking.

Some of the oldest ways to make a hot pot were probably done with straw or other dried plant materials used as insulation around the hot pot to hold in the heat. You can still use straw or other dried plant materials, if they are free or cheap and easy for you to get. 

There are now many more alternatives to straw to hold the heat around your hot pot and allow it to keep cooking without adding more heat. Old clothes, blankets, or other fabric can work for insulation around your hot pot. Natural fibers are safest to start out with until you understand what the heat will do to different kinds of fabric. Some synthetics are very flammable, so should not be used for a hot pot. 

Styrofoam, either the solid pieces, or peanuts for packing make excellent insulation around your hot pot. Shredded paper can also be insulation for your hot pot.

Your hot pot will stay warmer if you have something to hold your insulating materials around it. A cardboard box will work, at least when you are starting out with your experiment.

An ice chest would make a very good hot pot, as long as it belongs to you and isn't extremely expensive. When you start out, you will be finding out how hot your hot pot can be to start with and how you can safely hold that heat around your hot pot.

If you have enough insulation around your hot pot, it can keep cooking for most of the day. Although the hot pot does not need to be tended to keep cooking for a long time, when you first start you should plan to be around and check it frequently. You don't want synthetic fabrics scorching and burning, and you may want to add more insulation.

I read that it is believed that hot pots were first used so that people could work in the fields growing more food while their meal was cooking. Even if you don't work in the field, it can be nice to finish whatever kind of work you do and have a nice hot meal ready for you. 

Not only will practicing the use of a hot pot give you a pleasant meal that you don't have to fuss over, but it is teaching you skills that you can use in a disaster to cook with little fuel. It also helps you use less fuel now to save the environment and slow down climate change. You can cook dinner and be a hero at the same time.

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