I love a good slow-cooked meal. Growing up, the slow cooker – or crockpot, as we called it – was a staple of my dad’s (yep, dad was the cook in our household) kitchen. The main recipe he employed it for was chilli and it was delicious! I have yet to find a meal better suited to a cold, winter evening than a big bowl of steaming chili. Yum!
When I first moved out on my own, there was no way I was going to spend my precious few expendable dollars on a slow cooker, so I made do without for a few years. But when I settled down with my now husband and we started setting up house, I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t really claim to have a “real” home without a slow cooker. (Yes, I know I’m ridiculous.) Well, slow cookers aren’t particularly commonplace in Norway. If you were willing to shell out the big bucks – and here, I’m talking around $300 – you could get a pretty basic one, but it was no great shakes and I was NOT dropping that kind of cash on it even if it was. When hubby and I got married, we had a slow cooker on our wish list and friends of ours were generous enough to actually get it for us. (Yes, we’re spoiled.) Unfortunately, the crockpot came from North America. So, while we were able to get an adaptor for it that was supposed to convert voltage, etc., it was not a fan of Norwegian electricity, apparently. The first time we used it, smoke came out from behind the control panel. Yikes! I get nervous leaving the crockpot (yes, I’m going to use the two terms interchangeably throughout this post, get used to it) on while we’re out of the house at the best of times. Not gonna happen with one that’s smoking…
We packed the crockpot away with the intention of bringing it to Canada for my brother later (tried that… the lid shattered into a million pieces in my suitcase. THAT was fun to clean up!) Eventually, when Norway got a bit more adventuresome in the slow cooker department, we purchased one here. It was still more expensive than I’d like to pay, but manageable. And our home was finally filled with the glorious smells of a slowly perfected, home-cooked meals.
You’d think my (thus far kinda boring) story would end there, right? Nope! A while back, I stumbled across an interesting post on my Facebook newsfeed. It was an electricity-free crockpot. Say whaaat?!?! This magical device is called a “Wonderbag.” Basically, it’s a big, insulated bag, topped with a puffy little hat, closing in at the top. All ingredients are brought to a boil on conventional stovetop. Boil for about 20 minutes (this varies a bit,depending on the recipe) and then seal the pot into the Wonderbag. The food continues to slowly cook as the hours pass.
I admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. But the reviews looked good and I was intrigued. Plus, I like the history of the company and that for every Wonderbag purchased, another is sent to a family in Africa. I decided to try it out. Checking out the various options available on the website, I was stoked to see one of the options not only provided a “sister bag” to a family in Africa, but that it was actually handmade by a woman in Africa (job creation), using recycled materials and part of the proceeds go to the World Wildlife Fund. Sold! I went for the purple one, of course.
A short wait later and my package arrived. It was sent in a clear, plastic wrap, so I got a few questioning looks at the post office. But this is Norway; they didn’t ask. I excitedly brought my new kitchen toy home. My husband snorted, “You know you can get the same result with a duvet, right?” Hey, no raining on my parade, buddy! So, what recipe to try first? Chili, of course!
With help from my mom, visiting from Canada, I got all the ingredients prepped and thrown together and brought it all to a boil. We let it boil for about 20 minutes, I put everything into a smaller pot (there’s supposed to be as little extra room in the pot as possible) and put it into the Wonderbag, sealing up the top. Now, to wait. 7 hours later, it was time toeat. Finally, the moment of truth. Hubby opened up the bag, skeptical it’d still be warm enough, and out whooshed the scrumptious smelling steam. Definitely warm enough. And, oh, was it tasty!
Final verdict? This one’s a winner. The food turned out great, I love that it’s electricity-free so it saves energy and there’s no risk of a fire, and I feel good about supporting several great causes. Yum all around!