Mr D's Thermal Cooker
Helen loves her kitchen in the same way I love my shed, and it will therefore comes as no surprise to learn that we are both a bit of a pushover for a new tool.
Of course, as in woodwork, some kitchen innovations work and some don't so my role in the kitchen accessory selection process is to try and weed out the wheat from the chaff before a purchase is made.
We has one such "moment" last weekend in Crick when Helen came back from a visit to a neighbouring stall, all excited about a slow cooker which needs no heating and no attention - just right to provide a tasty meal at the end of a day when the boat galley have been otherwise engaged in the production of preserves.
I dutifully read the leaflet with my usual skeptical view, casting a nervous eye over the name "Mr D's Thermal Cooker" which all sounded a bit too homespun for a technical innovation. But as I read on and questioned Mr D it was apparent that this was an old idea brought up to date with the product itself made in China.
So what is this culinary panacea to hunger? Well, essentially it is a slow cooker combined with a thermos flask. You prepare your hotpot type meal (actually its much more versatile than that) and bring it to the boil in the stainless steel inner container on a conventional hob. Then you drop it into the vacuum sleeve and leave it alone, letting the contents cook in their own juices ready for serving at a moments notice then that elusive mooring has been found.
Mr D's Thermal Cooker
So, does it work? Answer: an emphatic yes! The quality of the all important vacuum is excellent and when we removed the contents from its case 8 hours later is was fully cooked, deliciously stewed in its own juices and not just warm but piping hot, so hot that we had to set it aside to cool for a minute or two before we could wolf it down.
French Beef Casserole for eight
And its not just us. About 2,000 of the units have been sold to the camping and boating community including trans Atlantic yachts where a reliable and convenient hot meal is a must.
And the price - well, its not exactly cheap and you can expect to spend in excess of 100 notes depending on the accessories you opt for. But given the convenience, the 80% power saving and the enhanced safety of not having stews balanced on the hot plate, its strikes me as a good deal.
The unit comes complete with a cookbook with over 80 recipes covering a range of soups, meat based main dishes, vegetarian options, puddings, cakes and scones to get you into the swing of it.