The Wonderbag. Huh. It looks like a dog bed, but they say it cooks food. So well, in fact, that the portable slow cooker can serve as a simple, inexpensive, and effective means of reducing energy costs and usage worldwide, particularly in developing countries where families spend up to 30% of their income on environmentally unfriendly fuel for wood stoves. And like the Kite mosquito patch and LifeStraw personal water filter, the Wonderbag tuffet of a Crock-Pot's quest to alleviate a problem in lower income parts of the world includes raising funds by selling its ingenious solution to the stuff-hungry who can afford it here.
Not that I'm taking a dig at Wonderbag or its efforts. The company's idea truly is ingenious. Once you've simmered a pot of food on the stove--essentially 5 to 15 minutes of cook time depending on pot contents--all you need to do is transfer the pot to a Wonderbag, seal it inside with the pillow insert and drawstring closure, and hang out. The Wonderbag's heat retention technology will continue to cook the food for up to 12 hours. Exactly as a slow cooker would, but minus the plug, and minus any additional energy suckage.
Wonderbags transport easily from homes to cars to picnics to campsites. The company also suggests adding them to the fracas of your kitchen during holidays or parties when stove, freezer, and counter space are at a premium. They function best with 2- to 9-quart copper, steel, aluminum, enameled cast iron, and glassware pots with short handles and a tight fitting lid.
To slow cook in a Wonderbag, bring your food to a boil on the stove and let simmer for 5 minutes (rice and grains) to 15 minutes (root vegetables, meat, presoaked beans). Place the lidded pot into the gigantic pincushion oven, close tightly, and go do something fun like play with your kids or your LaunchPAD. Head back 2 to 12 hours later, and dig in. Follow the link to Amazon below for some sample cooking ideas and recipes. Wonderbag packages also come with a recipe booklet.
As a philanthropical bonus, Wonderbag will match each energy-efficient slow cooker purchased in the US with one donated to an African family in need.