Thermal Cooking aka Hay Box Cooking

What is thermal cooking? Well it’s like a slow cooker, but it does not use electricity at all and all the magic happens inside the insulated pot. The short and sweet of it is that food is heated to boiling for a period of time 5, 10, 15 minutes and then put into an insulated structure. The interior covered pot will retain all the heat and the food will slowly continue cooking for several hours.This cooking concept is not new. While doing some research I found a newspaper article from the late 1890’s describing the same method. I also found a drawing in the book Experiment Station Work, XLI from 1907. If interested in reading the article it can be found over on the Internet Archive.

Well my cooker is not made from wood but the concept is the same. I was able to duplicate the method using a lidded pot and a cooler. Considering the cooler took up so much counter space and the hot pot warped the plastic on the inside of the cooler I finally decided to purchase a small crock pot sized thermal cooker.

It’s very simple to use and there is no worry from leaving an electric appliance plugged in all day. Continue reading

Getting Ready to Camp

Shopping for Camping Gear on the Cheap – Worth It? #2

My second find online and a deal so far is an self inflatable camping/hiking pillow.  It compresses and rolls up to about the size of a large cantaloupe.  Those super duper OMG where did they grow those sizes.

I found it on AliExpress for $6.35 and with shipping it came out to $7.90.  The order was placed on August 9, and it arrived at my house on August 25.  Since I didn’t have a camping trip planned the wait wasn’t bad at all.  The exterior material is a polyester PVC type material with a foam interior.  Air valve is a screw type and is easy to inflate.  Since it is a “self inflating” pillow I decided to test that feature and see if it would fluff up a bit without assistance from my lungs.  When I opened the valve it did fill partially with air and with two little breaths it was full.  It weighs in at around 9.3 ounces without the stuff sack.  The size is 47x30x8cm (18.5″ x 11.8″ x 3.14″ inches).  I made sure to check the sizes since I didn’t want to get something the size of a Barbie doll pillow.  It’s been a while since I had to learn the metric system, and that didn’t stick; however, Google is your friend! If you’d like your own then you should check out AliExpress.
I have a trip planned in October so I’ll post an update once my camping trip is complete.  Also, I think I’ll make it a tiny pillow case to keep it clean.  Not that I drool, but well hiking makes me tired and I’d rather not slobber on my new pillow.
Inflatable Pillow Air Cushion for Hiking Backpacking Travel

Inflatable Pillow Air Cushion for Hiking Backpacking Travel 47x30x8cm

Inflatable Pillow Air Cushion for Hiking Backpacking Travel 47x30x8cm

Inflatable Pillow Air Cushion for Hiking Backpacking Travel 47x30x8cm

47x30x8 cm - lightly cushioned, nylon material. Easy to inflate and weighs in at 9.9 ounces - 9.3 ounces without the stuff sack.

Lightly cushioned, nylon material. Easy to inflate.  Green to match the down sleeping bag I got off E-Bay.

47x30x8 cm - lightly cushioned, nylon material. Easy to inflate and weighs in at 9.9 ounces - 9.3 ounces without the stuff sack.

Weighs in at 9.9 ounces – 9.3 ounces without the stuff sack

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Shopping for Camping Gear on the Cheap – Worth It? #1

So occasionally I get these ideas (Ok..it’s often I get these ideas) to see how I acquire a nice product, but save some cash while doing so.

Take this for example.  I’ve been thinking about getting a pack-able down sleeping bag that would work in cool weather (30-50F).  The problem is I’m not so sure I’d like to spend $150 to $500 for something I’m going to only use a couple times a year.  So I start looking around online and found something that seems a little too good to be true.  It’s advertised as a Autumn Adult Outdoor  Envelope Duck Down Sleeping bag.  Ok, I’m intrigued.  The brand is AndesMountain and it had free shipping from China.  It was a 1/4 the cost of several I looked at and it says it has 12.3 ounces of white duck down fill.  Hmmm, not sure how to gauge that part, but I’m still looking.  Well it did arrive all safe and sound and I am VERY impressed!  Overall the weight is 1 pound 13 ounces and that’s when it’s packed down in it’s little stuff sack.  It’s put together very well, has a nice feel to it, and looks like it would fluff up nice.  The zipper works great and the bag packs easily back into it’s stuff sack.  If anything it will be a great top quilt or something to use during weather that’s not too cold or for just hanging around the campfire.  The sleeping bag is rectangle which I like and it also has a cord that allows the top to be cinched down around your head if needed.  There are also two loops at the foot where it can be hung up to dry if needed.  I’m very impressed and look forward to using my new bag on a trip I have planned in October.  I’ll be bringing a separate bag…just in case the temps get too chilly!

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Back To Where We Come From

1965 - (130)

Mom, me (the little one) and my cousin Mike.

Growing up in the 1960’s through the 1980’s weekends and summers were spent at the lake. Nothing fancy like what we see today, but it was a cabin built by my dad and it was perfect.  From what I remember it was a design and floor plan that they saw in a magazine for Jim Walter Homes.  The plans were tweaked a little I think and what would have been two windows on the front turned into three very large bay windows looking out across the lake.  The siding was not your normal hardie board siding, but was rough cut cedar. There were two bedrooms, bathroom, and a kitchen.  The side front porch was eventually closed in and a fireplace was added.  The cabin was built weekend to weekend, pay check to pay check.  It wasn’t fast, but it was all theirs and they built it from the ground up as funds were available.

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The siding was cedar and I do remember us repainting every couple of year. The kitchen was small with a little bar separating the den from the kitchen. At meal time I always had my favorite seat at the bar on on a Arthur Umanoff style wood slat swivel bar stool. Weekends meant fishing and evening meals usually meant fried catfish or bream with all the fixings! Going fly fishing with my Dad was always a treat. Getting up before the sun came up so that we could be down the Coosa River to our favorite fishing spots before the sun came up. Fast forward 50 years and a condo complex sits at the spot of what used to be some good fly fishing. Now all the bank cover is gone…and so are the fish.

PRE_1965_0002 (86)

The view from the house towards the Coosa River, before the dam was completed.

When my parents bought the property it was a 1-2 acre piece of land a good ways back from the Coosa River. Once the dam at Logan Martin was completed it all became water front property. People thought my parents and my relatives next door were a bit out there since they built retaining walls and boat houses out in the middle of a cow pasture!
Little did they know that Alabama Power had surveyed the property and they had a good idea of where the water would be once the dam was competed. The dam was completed in 1964 and the water started to rise.
We spent many a summer and/or weekend at the lake. I miss it so much that I wish we still owned the property. I still keep an eye on it from my Aunt and Uncles home next door. Maybe one day I can take custody of it once again.

Here’s my special place. I made this video when we were visiting family for the 4th of July this year.
[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQGJKFf8ShU[/embedyt]

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