Thursday, February 17, 2011

Making A Cozy

While the cozy isn’t new, it was to me. Once I got into the subject, I discovered teapot cozies, for example, go back generations. They’ve fallen out of common usage, what with the microwave and instant reheating, but the cozy is a wonderful addition to one’s camping gear, and works wonders in not just keeping food hot, but conserving cooking fuel. It takes the word “simmer” out of your meal preparations. So, if you’re wanting to rehydrate freeze-dried foods, simmer, reduce fuel consumption, or keep one part of a meal hot while preparing another on your single-burner stove, you need a cozy.

They’re generally home-made. The ideal is a durable plastic container with a screw or snap-on lid that is just large enough to hold the contents of one meal. I used a 45 oz. CountryCrock margarine tub, which works beautifully, but is a bit large. Fortunately, it takes no room in my wanigan, because I’m able to set the inverted lid in the bottom, the tub on that, and the Coleman stove propane bottle sits perfectly inside that. If I was backpacking, I’d obviously want a smaller container, and while the size of the container is still under consideration, I may find that a smaller container will actually take up more room than this one given the way I’m able to stack it and utilize its internal volume.

Anyhow, to make one, you need the container, heavy-duty roaster aluminum foil, sill or duct insulation, and tin tape. The sill insulation is blue ¼ X 6-inch rolled foam. As the name indicates, it’s available at any home-supply store, as it’s used to put under sills or around doors and windows when they are installed. High-temperature tin tape is used instead of duct tape, because boiling water will soften the duct tape adhesive. The tin tape and insulation cut with normal scissors.

Wrap the insulation around the tub, adjust so the lid will go on without hitting the insulation, and assemble with tape. Add a bottom panel. The top is enlarged a bit so it will slide down over both the lid and overlap an inch of the tub. The aluminum foil is then worked into place so it covers both the inside and outside of the tub and top, so the insulation is fully encapsulated.

In your food preparation, if something says simmer or let stand for seven minutes, simply put the boiling water and contents in the cozy for twice as long, and you’re done. Leave the lid just ajar so the expanding steam has a vent. When I tried it the first time, I let the food set for a half hour in 35-deg. air while I gathered firewood, and dinner was still so hot I had to blow on each spoonful before eating it. It works great.

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