Dinner Cooks Itself. Thermal Cooker Aboard?

Many times I’ve returned to the boat exhausted wishing dinner would cook itself.    Whether it’s a long day in town tracking down officialdom to check into a new country, provisioning or having fun exploring, snorkeling and hiking.  Same with camping … a spectacular 10 mile hike over a mountain pass, we’re back at the trailer and I have to fix dinner.  When all I want to do it relax by the campfire.

Crockpot Lasagna ... Recipe below.   Not exactly like the real thing, but close enough to be devoured.

Crockpot Lasagna … Recipe below. Not exactly like the real thing, but close enough to be devoured.  And it cooked itself.

Back in the day when the “W” word (work) invaded my life I used my crock pot regularly.  Dinner waiting whenever our crazy schedules allowed was wonderful.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have dinner waiting on the boat or trailer, but I can’t imagine using the electricity a crock pot would take.

Lately I’ve been reading about thermal cookers – starting with the Wonderbag Slow Cooker several months ago.  Then my friend, Carolyn, over at The Boat Galley did a review of Thermos brand thermal cookers … here …  TheBoatGalley.com guest post by Cathy Dreaper of s/v Sea Souls about “stupidly expensive thermal cookers” and how much she loves it. 

Thermos Nissan Thermal Cooker -- be careful of Thermos that are not Thermos Nissan, they're not the same quality!

Thermos Nissan Thermal Cooker — be careful of Thermos that are not Thermos Nissan, they’re not the same quality!

If you’re not familiar with thermal cookers, they’re very simple.  You start cooking a meal by heating it to a certain temperature, then put it in the thermal cooker and let it sit for a few hours and it finishes cooking itself.  No electricity involved.  So we could be away from the boat or trailer and dinner would cook itself?  Hmmmm….

A good thermal cooker might be a good alternative onboard the boat or in the travel trailer.  But before I rush out and spend all that money — as the TBG post mentions they are “stupidly expensive”,   I need to reassure myself that I’d actually use the thing.  I haven’t used a crock pot in years.

Here are some possibilities:  Thermal Cooker Possibilities at Amazon.    And here’s the one I’ll buy, if I decide to splurge:    Thermos Nissan Thermal Cooker.  “Thermal Cookware keeps food hot (or cold) for up to 6 hours without reheating. Nissans unique two-piece set of cookware offers excellent temperature and flavor retention and allows for easy transport in one self-contained unit. Perfect for rice, stews, soups, jambalaya and more. The stainless steel inner pot is for cooking and vacuum insulated outer container will keep food hot for hours.

So now I’m accumulating and testing recipes in our crockpot, since we’re back at the lake and I already have the crockpot — aside from having to dig it out from the far back corner of the most remote cabinet.

My first attempt at renewed crockpot recipes was Crockpot Lasagna and David and I agree it’s a keeper.  Plus no oven time.  Because we’re trying to keep as much fat out of our diets as possible, I left out the skim ricotta cheese and it was still very tasty!

Who knew lasagne could be

Who knew lasagna could be “baked” in a crock pot?

Crock Pot Vegetarian Lasagna

  • 2 24 ounce jars or cans of spaghetti sauce
  • lasagna noodles (I used whole grain)
  • 24 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese OR cottage cheese – optional (I left this out entirely)
  • 3-4 cups chopped vegetables of choice (spinach, zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, green pepper and onion for us)
  • 2 cups shredded Mozzarella or Provolone cheese
  • Serve with parmesan cheese
  1. Spray the crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Spread ½ cup spaghetti sauce to the bottom so the noodles don’t stick.
  2. Break noodles so that they fit and mostly cover the bottom.  I did one layer one direction and the next layer the opposite direction. Add with about one third of the ricotta, veggies, sauce, cheese, and end with noodles. Repeat layers two more times for a total of three layers. Top with a final layer of noodles, a thin layer of sauce and a little more shredded cheese.
  3. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours.
  4. Then turn the crockpot off completely and let the lasagna sit for at least one hour. This allows all the moisture to get soaked into the lasagna.  Scoop “pieces” out after cutting it with a knife.

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