For a while now I've become increasingly intrigued with the idea of low energy cooking (funny how things like that happen when you get your electricity bill lol!)
I've been doing some experimenting over the last month or so with mixed results!
My first method was with the food thermos I bought on sale. I have managed to successfully cook porridge in it - yay! It's quite simple - I put one cup of rolled oats in the thermos (not quick / instant oats but the old-fashioned ones), and fill it up with boiling water - I think it probably takes about 1.5 cups of boiling water. Put the lid on, go to bed, and in the morning (about 9 hours later by the time I get to it) you have porridge! I haven't experimented to find out how long it actually takes before it's ready but I'm sure you wouldn't need to leave it that long! It's luke-warm by that stage, and I like creamy porridge, so I just tip it in the saucepan with some milk and heat it back up. No stirring over a stove - so easy!
I also tried to cook potatoes in it the same way - by peeling and chopping potatoes, and then pouring boiling water over them in the thermos, but didn't have much luck. They had started to soften a little, but were nowhere near cooked. I'm going to try again by boiling them for a few minutes first and then putting them in the thermos to see if that helps.
My other experiment was making a haybox cooker - google it for heaps of ways to do it! The idea of the haybox is that you start the meal cooking, then transfer it to the insulated box to finish cooking.
What I did was take our old metal esky that we picked up at a car boot sale years ago, grab a pillowcase and fill it with styrofoam peanuts and place that in the bottom as the bottom insulating layer.
I wanted to try it with sweet rice (white rice boiled with milk & sugar) so I grabbed a saucepan that would fit in and boiled it up for a few minutes using my normal recipe. Then I popped it in the Esky.
I put a towel & a bunny rug over the top and tucked it in tight :)
Popped the lid on and left it for about 4 minutes.
End result - not too bad but not perfect. The rice was still a bit crunchy and not very hot, and there was way too much liquid. The size of the esky made it hard to find a saucepan to fit. It didn't keep it very hot - I'm not sure if it was the type of pot I used, the lid may not have fitted tightly or whether the insulation was insufficient in the esky and my added stuff. It definitely needs tweaking but the idea is good!
I'm also very tempted to try this solar cooker that Molly posted about on her blog -
http://doing-it-naturally.blogspot.com/2008/05/windshield-cover-solar-cooker.html - I just don't have the necessary "bits" atm.
BUT wait there's more...
Yesterday I went to the Caravan & Camping Show with my parents and purchased a brand new toy - the Dreampot thermo cooker.
The Dreampot works on the same idea as the haybox but someone has already done all the work for you :) You basically put your food in the pots, bring it to the boil and cook it for a few minutes and then place it in the insulated outer pot. Seal it up and it finishes cooking the food and keeps it hot for up to 8 hours. You can cook stews, rice, pasta, breads, cakes, yoghurt and heaps more! You can also use it as a cooler.
I will admit that I got a bit swayed by the sales pitch - I hadn't gone there planning to buy one but I had been looking at them and lusting for a while. The saleslady was one of the owners of the company and what impressed me most was that she wasn't trying to push a whole heap of accessories with it. Cake tin - use an empty baked bean tin, trivet to raise the pot up - use a couple of small tuna tins etc. It impressed me. She and her husband have developed the product and use it themselves as they travel around. I'll be using it both at home and in the caravan - how nice to have a stew for tea and an egg custard for dessert cooking away as we travel around lol.
So hopefully a combination of the above will help with electricity costs!