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heat vs. cotton or wool

 
                                  
Posts: 175
Location: Suwon, South Korea
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paul wheaton wrote:
I have multiple missions. 
One is get even cooking. 
Another is to cook with less energy/heat.
Another is to cook and not have my kitchen get so hot.
Another is to explore cooking on a rocket mass heater - as opposed to a rocket stove.
Another is to possibly cook faster because the heat is not just on the bottom.
Another is that I think if I can figure this out and get it working well, there will be a whole bunch of other cool things on the other side.



Ah -- this is the famous "mission creep," as in Iraq war -- you only stated one of these in your original post.  If you're now also interested in using less energy, then cast iron is the truly "crappy" solution given its long warm-up time... unless you can figure out a use for its long warm-down time after the fire is off. 

That, for example, would be ideal for melting chocolate to dip gooseberries in for dessert while you're eating your main course.  Or, you could use it as a "hot water bottle" on cold nights the way campers use a hot rock from the camp fire in their tent to slowly release heat all night.  (if your wife wants to know what a frying pan is doing in bed, just tell her you're stacking functions -- that should quiet her down.)  Or you could warm up the dishwater in the sink while you're eating.  But in the summer time... I don't know.
 
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Paul wheaton, you are crazy, worse than my brother or son or any other boy i have ever had the doubtfull pleasure of knowing. How do you manage to build such solid pig houses?  I think you just enjoy being a catalyst and throwing stuff, out there and seeing what happens.

  My mother who was funny and interesting and a bit of a shrew, she could not concentrate on cooking and was always turning her back to it and leaning on the stove had holes in the back of several of her jerseys, They burnt alright. To give her her due she thought talking to us more important than cooking and i learnt  a lot from her. She thought it lazy not to have children in the kitchen. They make cooking so much slower.

  Wool is often very light and airy if it is sufficiently matted it must burn a bit worse.

On thick bottommed iron pans.
    A thick bottomed iron skillet should warm up till its holding a lot of heat. A thick bottomed skillet does not lose the heat when you put your cold steak in the pan.  I imagine the whole bottom should be pretty equally warm in a thick bottomed iron pan.
  One of the good things about home cooking is the variety of tastes between the crispier bit and the less done bit.

  Talking of iron skillets. It has been some time i have wanted to say to you that in my family parents grandmother things did not stick on iron frying pans because they were not scrubbed, get the lose off them and things that stick up and the grease with plenty of soap and a bit of rubbing and but don't scratch them and get them really clean. In some pans a sort of charcoal covering forms that is none stick and hardier than none stick and we cooked in butter slowly. Very hot fat is usually unhealthy.
   
You want a tea cosy that you use while cooking?
 

There is a thing called a "haybox" for cooking in heat retaining mode as Lanny Plans would say. A sort of super tea cosy that will keep things simmering for hours this makes cooking stews while you are out at work say, safe.
      You boil your stew for a bit ten minutes say till the bits in it are hot as well as the water and put it in a box or basket full of straw or cushions, a cushion on top and lid and leave it for hours. You can bring it back to the boil when you get in from work and simmer it for twenty minutes to kill off germs. I have cooked beans sucessfully this way once.
    Lanny Henson of LannyPlans has an example of a hay box in his videos of his cooking contraptions wood gassifiers an droctet stoves and the like, except his is a double walled plastic, plastic, paint can, is filled with sawdust, not hay, that you put your stew in.
  "LannyPlans The green pail retained heat cooker" youtube
  I think things like the type of pot you use, I used a pottery one that holds heat and the size of your stew are important in "retained heat cooking" or haybox cooking.  lanny Henson says, a big stew holds the heat better.
    A good few years researching the green, agri rose macaskie.
 
master steward
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I bought a bag of wool about a year and a half ago.  And haven't done a thing with it.

I find that I am now shifting the way I do a lot of things.  The key is to delegate.

What would somebody charge to make this for me?  I think that if I were to have this, it would work excellent, and then I would make a video of it, and ... well ... change the world. 



At this moment, I would think the easiest way to make this would be to get an old wool blanket and stitch together many layers.  In fact, if they layers could come apart somehow, they could be run through the wash (on cold, and drip dried). 

Anybody have any interest in this sort of thing?


 
                                
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Location: Elmira, ny
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If you switched from a glass lid to a cast iron lid, you could keep a lot more heat around the pan.

Thing is, having the lid on cooks food differently than having it off. With the lid on, it is more like steaming and can really change the taste of a food. In the past I have used a cover to hurryup cook meats, and it has resulted in meat that is tougher and not as flavorful. Works the same way with eggs, although if you are careful, you can make quick over-easy eggs without overing them by using the lid judiciously. Never tastes quite as good as flipping them with the cover off, though.

If you were wanting to seriously cut down on using heat, in the summer you could preheat a cast iron pan in the sun.
 
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Oh, thank you so much Rose! I saw this years ago and have been looking for it again but had forgotten the name! I'm so happy to have found it, wonderful!

http://chilechews.blogspot.com/2009/01/retained-heat-cooking.html

http://www.instructables.com/id/hay-box-cooker/
 
paul wheaton
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I guess I am shooting for the haybox cooker effect but without the hay or the box.

 
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Location: Hatfield, PA
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Couple of ideas...


  • [li]Cook in the oven. If you want retained, even heat, it's the way to go (learned this from Alton Brown). Works amazingly well on bacon.[/li]
    [li]Want really even heat? Cook in ceramic in the oven. Using upside-down flowerpots works well here to create a micro-earth-oven. Bricks also help to hold the temp even once they've been heated.[/li]
    [li]For the skirt, use very heavy gauge aluminum foil or flashing. I use these types of skirts regularly when camping with a liquid fuel stove and it cuts boil times in half. It reflects a good portion of the heat even as it conducts some through and acts as a wind screen. If you want to use wool, use it after the metal skirt to reduce the likelihood of ignition.[/li]


  • I love cast iron but something just doesn't seem right here. How thick is your skillet? Are you using it on an electric element that is just under the same size as the pan itself? Have you replaced your element recently? I've never had that much of a problem with heat distribution on a cast iron skillet before and I use electric upstate too.
     
                        
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    Clearly, someone needs to custom fit a ring from the same ceramic that is on the tiles of the space shuttle, then glaze that, and put it around the side of the pot (inside and out). That stuff is light, strong, and has crazy insulation properties.

    Or use a griddle that is the exact size of the heat source, and which has no side edges to act as radiative fins.  Soup? I once saw a Shaolin chef prepare soup on a grill.
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 240
    Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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    This heat exchanger device comes to mind.  They are great when using a camp stove in cold weather.

    http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews/Cook%20Gear/Cooking%20Accessories/MSR%20Heat%20Exchanger/Owner%20Review%20by%20Suzi%20Gibson/

    It would be a challenge to design something that would fit most skillets and work on an eletric stove effectively...
     
                                
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    Hi Paul,
      I have several different "Hayboxes" most without hay. I guess a better term would be the more modern "heat retention cooking". One of mine consists of a cardboard box with various parts of old flannel sheets. Just put the hot pot/pan (with lid on) in the box, tuck it in all nicely with the flannel sheets and close the box... it just continues to cook. It's kind of the original method of Crock pot cookery. I have a wide assortment of heavy glass cookwear that I use, in addition to cast iron. Last summer I did quite a bit of experimenting with solar ovens and found the glass cookwear great for that. Found that I could use the solar oven to heat things up, then I would put it into the haybox ( I call them that, hay or no) to allow it to continue to cook, while I utilized the solar oven for another project. I found that I prefer to use the hayboxes with other heat sources that get hotter faster than the solar oven, but it was great fun to experiment.

    Here are a couple of links to some heat retention cooking information (I think the first link may be closest to what you had in mind), :

    http://www.naturalbalancesa.com/
    http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Heat-retention_cooking

    As an FYI regarding flammability of cotton.. the US military special forces members use to (I don't know if they still do it or not) make fire starters out of cotton balls and petroleum jelly, carry them in old film containers . I've used them many times when it has been sub zero and I've let my fire go out and get cold. They work like a charm! On the other hand, I've found it really difficult to burn wool, or for that matter.. poodle hair. It's incredibly heat resistive. Does a lot of smouldering. I had a couple of apple boxes of poodle hair last summer that I thought I would burn. Had a good fire going, through it in on top and... it extinquished the fire! I'll find better uses for it in the future.

     
    pollinator
    Posts: 347
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    Dumb question:
    Is your pan flat? Or has it been overheated and dished in the center so only that part contacts the burner?
    New cast iron pans are pretty thin - easy to overheat.
    How about bending the center UP so the outer edges contact the burner. Set your bottle jack on the center of the upside down pan and jack up something heavy just enough to curve the center up a tad... tractor?
     
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    Location: Bucks County, Pennsylvania [zone 6]
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    Jonathan_Byron wrote:
    Clearly, someone needs to custom fit a ring from the same ceramic that is on the tiles of the space shuttle, then glaze that, and put it around the side of the pot (inside and out). That stuff is light, strong, and has crazy insulation properties.



    That was the same line of thinking I came up with when reading this! I think if this idea is to go anywhere, ceramics will likely be involved. FWIW there exists cast iron that is covered in enamel, perhaps what you want is the same but thicker.
    I'm not sure how exactly... but some experimenting might be done with some cheapo floor tiles from a big box store and some copper wire. Cut the tiles into thin, tall strips and weave them into the wire around a pot...?

    The firefighter in me wants to remind you that any of this experimenting should really be done OUTSIDE on a hot plate first. It's really not very sustainable to burn down your house while doing science experiments. In the event that you ignore my advice - have a fire extinguisher handy. If you don't have a fire extinguisher - have a big box of baking soda.

    I would recommend against using any textiles on a burner... wool is amazing stuff, but it will burn.
     
    steward
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    Most people think of slow-cookers (crock pots) as winter cooking.  They are great for stew, soup, etc,  But, they also have a great summer time use as well.  Before you head out the door in the morning, set it on the porch and let it go.  When you come in after chores, a meal is ready, and the kitchen hasn't been heated up.  Baked beans go well with many BBQ dishes.  Back in the day, most farms had a summer kitchen apart from the house; the logic is easy to see.
     
    Bucks Brandon
    Posts: 44
    Location: Bucks County, Pennsylvania [zone 6]
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    John Polk wrote:
    Most people think of slow-cookers (crock pots) as winter cooking.  They are great for stew, soup, etc,  But, they also have a great summer time use as well.  Before you head out the door in the morning, set it on the porch and let it go.  When you come in after chores, a meal is ready, and the kitchen hasn't been heated up.  Baked beans go well with many BBQ dishes.  Back in the day, most farms had a summer kitchen apart from the house; the logic is easy to see.



    +1

    Just make sure that if you leave the crock pot outside that it's somewhat secured from animals... wouldn't be much fun to come home and find out that an animal ate all your beans!
     
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