Duvets, purlers, chickpeas

I don’t know what a purler is, but I certainly went for one yesterday. The day started with a very pleasant morning with a group of friends who are going to help me to get the garden under control. It’s a horrible mess and I needed somebody with vision and experience to see a way of sorting it out. We sat in the sun for several hours drinking coffee and planning.

When they were leaving, one of them was suddenly taken ill. He put it down to too much caffeine, and folded into a heap on the grass under a tree and started shaking uncontrollably. He didn’t feel he could eat or drink anything, so I had the idea that some Rescue Remedy might be the answer. As I trotted into the hallway something happened. I don’t know if the rug slipped, or whether I tripped on it, because that part happened so quickly. But instead of falling flat, I found myself flying through the air like a human canon ball, in an elegant slow-motion arc, already making mental notes of how I could get the animals looked after if I broke a bone. Thankfully the good fairy was watching out, and while I landed with a thud and squeal, nothing was broken, including my glasses. But it took me several minutes to get up and make my legs work without crumpling. Anyway, the Rescue Remedy got me going again, and I think it helped our friend, who eventually recovered, sitting in the garden shed wrapped in the blankets I use to cover the parrot at night. 🙂

Today the only part of me that doesn’t hurt is my left shoulder. Everywhere else feels as if it was hit by a train. But there isn’t a single bruise! Don’t you feel a bit cheated when you really hurt yourself and there isn’t a visible sign? I do.


Now, the duvets and chickpeas. I was reading an article about the Wonderbag, and having  just suffered palpitations from the latest electricity bill, was inspired to try my own version of environmentally-friendly low-cost cooking. I started with a plastic laundry basket, lined it with that silver-backed insulating stuff you put behind radiators and shoved an old duvet in it. Then I boiled a saucepan of water, popped in some salt, oil and pasta, and immediately put the whole thing into the laundry basket, tucking the duvet in firmly all around and folding it over the top so the saucepan was snug. Twenty-five minutes later (this was very thick spiral pasta), it was perfectly cooked. Not only a saving on gas, but also no condensation dripping from the extractor hood. 🙂 And, of course, lowered CO2 emissions. How fantastic is that?

Before going to bed I did a similar experiment with lentils, bringing them to the boil and swaddling them in the duvet. I left them overnight, and in the morning they were perfectly cooked – again minimum use of gas, and no condensation.

Encouraged, I moved on to my bêtes noires, chick peas. No matter what I do with them, they are generally like bullets, even after an hour in a pressure cooker. Could the duvet system work on them? Discarding the laundry basket because it really did look frightfully naff, I found a robust wooden drawer, and similarly lined it with the insulating material, a folded towel, and then crammed the duvet into it. Brought the bêtes noires to the boil for ten minutes, then tucked them up in the duvet. Put a pillow on top for good measure. Three hours later, for the first time ever – perfect chick peas. Bingo!

This is the official Wonderbag:

Click the image to go to the Wonderbag site and see what it does, and how. What a brilliantly simple idea!

So I’m totally convinced by the haybox principle, but having a wooden drawer stuffed with a large feather duvet sitting on the kitchen surface is just as naff as having a laundry basket stuffed with a large feather duvet sitting on the kitchen surface. Having proved its worth, I’m now moving onto to something a little less obtrusive. With huge veterinary bills (as well as the huge electricity bill), I can’t warrant buying an official Wonderbag, as much as I’d like to. For every bag bought, one is given to an African family in need, so it’s a worthy idea.

However, you can download a pattern and instructions from the Internet to make your own, or perhaps be really inventive – I absolutely LOVE this one! Click the image to go the website to see how this clever lady made it.

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11 thoughts on “Duvets, purlers, chickpeas

  1. Brill idea, I remember Guide camps when we cooked a stew in the hay box all day. Not sure the dog would be too happy with me nicking her duvet to cook our dinner (it is the only spare one lying around here), but I could give it a go if I promised to share the meal with her.

    Glad to hear you didn’t break anything 🙂

  2. That was an inspiring post!
    I’m keen on the haybox idea – not that electricity is that expensive here, but I like to save a penny where I can and I’ll experiment with beans and with rice as well as the chickpeas.

    I’m glad your friend recovered – just how strong is your coffee?!! – and that you, after sailing through the air with the greatest of ease have had no permanent damage.

    IF a bruise appears, get a bottle of the Elixir de l’Abbe Perdrigeon – deals with bruises in no time. As a dedicated stander on of rakes I can recommend it.

    • Managed to find one bruise – on the back of my hand! Last night I could barely walk, and to put the cherry on the cake I choked on something and had a dreadful coughing fit which hurt my ribs so much that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But feeling a lot better today

      I don’t think our friend’s problem was entirely due to the coffee. It was probably more the fact that he hadn’t eaten anything since the previous night, and had also been sitting in the sun for a couple of hours.

      Just cooked an excellent curry in the duvet!

  3. What a sheltered life I must lead, I have never heard of Rescue Remedy and having done a quick Google I will have a lot of reading to do about it.
    As for the amazing modern haybox, I read that over 2 million have already been sold. Reports are extremely encouraging. Wonder why we are only just hearing about them here.
    More investigating methinks.

    • Pip – Rescue Remedy is great stuff! Just a few drops in a little water works magic. I give it to the animals sometimes. Tally got heatstroke a couple of years ago, and collapsed. I put a few drops of RR in his mouth and within ten minutes he was galloping around again. It’s something well worth carrying in your pocket.

      I am so impressed with the haybox principle. Cooked a brilliant vegetarian curry overnight.

  4. A fascinating post. I’ve never tried to cook with a hay box. It does sound a good idea but requires a lot of time. Being out most of the day at work I’m not sure I’d be able to monitor it too well and everything would turn out over-cooked (knowing my luck). It would have to be a weekend activity.

    My electricity is pretty reasonable so I’m not on the look out for minor saving devices.

    • Sarah, the thing about the haybox is that you only need to do the initial preparation, i.e. bring the whatever up to boiling point, then just stick it in the haybox thingy and leave it. It’s the same as a slow-cooker, except it cannot ever burn the food. I’ll swap electricity bills with you. 🙂

  5. Happy to see you know the Bach products! I always put 4 drops under my tongue, because that works even faster!
    The duver-cooker reminds me of the war and how mother and grandmother used to prepare what little food there was. Lovely post!

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