Thursday, March 19, 2015

My Wonder(ful) Bag!

Have you ever heard of a "Wonderbag?"  Also known as a "thermal cooker," it is an insulated bag, filled with polystyrene beads or wool to insulate it, that is used kind of like a slow cooker.  You cook the food for a short time on the stove (or other heat source) then you cinch it all up in this bag and leave it in there for the prescribed time and when you open it up, the food is all nicely cooked and lovely.

I have wanted one for a long time, but if you follow the link I put up there, you can see they are rather expensive, and so that was out of the question.  Particularly, since I don't know how much I would actually use such a thing, I tried, more than once, to find a pattern to sew my own, but there didn't seem to be one available.  A couple of days ago, I happened to see a video on YouTube that taught me how to make one!  So, I did!  And there it is!  I didn't have to go and purchase anything to make it.  I already had the fabric, and wool fiber for stuffing, and my husband had paracord and the little clip thing for cinching it up.  Here is a link to the video:

I tried it out today, to cook our supper, and it worked perfectly!  I used my 5-quart cast iron Dutch oven to make this wonderful meal.  Here is how I did it.

Heat the pan and then add a little lard (or other fat of your choice) and some chopped up bacon.

Brown 6 pieces of chicken. (I had thighs.)

Add 1 Tablespoon of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon ground poultry seasoning, salt the chicken well and add some black pepper too.
Then pour in 2 pints of chicken stock or bone broth and 2 cups of water. Also 1/2 cup plain full-fat yogurt.
Add a chunked onion, some minced garlic and a few potatoes cut into chunks.
Stir together.

Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes.
Place the hot lidded pan into the cooker. (I lined it with kitchen towels to keep it clean.)
Cinch up the bag, inserting the "lid" carefully in the top of the cooker.  Tuck it in all around.

Let is sit for 4 hours.  Then open it all up.  Be careful.  It is still hot!

I checked the temperature when I opened it, just out of curiousity.

I couldn't wait.  I ate dinner a little early tonight.  It was delicious!

This little bag saves energy, is convenient and safe to cook while you are away or even overnight.  There is also a Wonder Oven, that is larger, and I have seen examples of where people just use lots of blankets and towels to wrap pots up and put them in a laundry basket.  These used to be called "hay boxes" and hay was used as the insulation.

It was fun.  It was not difficult to make, although it did take me a few hours to do it!  Next time will be easier. If you found yourself in a situation where you had limited fuel for cooking, this would be very convenient.

Here is another picture of the cooker with the lid:



  1. Bravo! I have been curious about these as well. You did a great job. Thanks for sharing.

  2. This is very interesting, especially for summer or when really busy for the day. Thank you.

    1. It is very similar, in my mind, to using a slow cooker. I can see myself preparing a meal on Saturday evening and putting it in the fridge, getting it out on Sunday morning and doing the pre-cooking, and then into the cooking bag and when we get home from Church it will be hot and ready with no worry about being overcooked. I hope you will try it, Melynda!

  3. I've never heard of these before . Looks like you have a good plan to make it work for you.

  4. Yours is the only one I have seen with wool stuffing (which I prefer) instead of polystyrene beads (which I do not want to use)--How is that working over time? Does it get matted down from kitchen steam or grease? Does it wash ok?

    1. The wool is working just fine. I always put some little towels inside before I put the pot in. I've never yet spilled anything in my cooking bag, but if I did, I could wash it by hand and hang it outside to dry. There really is no steam, at least not for me. I have never yet washed it. It only gets dusty if it sits for a while and I just take it outside and shake it off. Are you going to make one?

    2. Yes! I have an old wool filled duvet that got washed and dried and matted down, and I am going to open it up and then 're-fluff' the wool that got matted. Have to find some sturdy cotton fabric (don't want to use an old sheet and then have it tear after all that work)...I live in the boondocks, so it could be a bit before I get out...I would think all cotton or hemp, but the companies that make these use polyester and poly blends--I only use poly in curtain linings because the sun won't rot it, but doesn't it melt at a lower temp? or does it not matter because the bag gets lined with a towel first? I wonder

    3. Mine is cotton. I don't think that polyester would be a good idea. Good luck!


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