I don’t know about you, but this load-shedding story is really causing havoc with my life. So, I found a way to ensure my family gets a beautifully cooked meal using little to no electricity – using the incredible Wonderbag!
What is the Wonderbag you ask?
Well – it’s a beautiful bag filled with insulating material to work as an electricity-free slow cooker. If you cook on an open fire, and use a Wonderbag, you’ll burn less firewood (resulting in less carbon dioxide). If you use a gas stove to cook, and use a Wonderbag, you’ll use less gas when cooking. And finally, if you’re using a traditional electric stove, you won’t use as much electricity, or need it!
Basically, you’ll begin cooking on a stove (electric or gas) or fire, bring food to the boil and let boil for a short time (with the lid on to hold in the heat), and then with the lid still on you close it in your Wonderbag. You’ll then leave it to slow cook as you would a regular slow cooker.
The Wonderbag will never over cook or burn your food, it will keep your food warm (or cold, as it can be used as a cooler bag too) and it greatly reduces the amount of electricity, gas or fire used.
I figured with our current state of on-and-off load-shedding here in South Africa, some slow cooker recipes that don’t require constant electricity would be a good idea. You can use a camping gas stove for the initial part of this, we used our regular stove (we have a gas stove at home), or you can pop this on your electric stove 30min before load-shedding hits, and then pop it in the Wonderbag for 2 hours while load-shedding does it’s thing. When the power comes back on, you’ll have a delicious meal ready and waiting for you!
So – check out my recipe for Irish Beef & Guinness Stew, just in time for St Patrick’s Day. Read to the bottom, to find out how you can win a Wonderbag of your very own!
Irish Beef & Guinness Stew
- 250 gm bacon chopped
- 1,4 kg stewing beef or beef cubes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 300 gm pearl onions peeled and halved
- 6 medium potatoes chopped
- 5 medium carrots chopped into coins
- 3 stalks celery finely chopped (I used our Nutribullet & minced)
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 litre good quality beef stock (I used the Ina Paarman one)
- 2 cans Guinness stout
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup sherry
- 100 gm tomato paste
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp water
- Open up Wonderbag, puff up the pockets of insulation and leave open to air.
- In the large pot you plan to use, cook the chopped bacon and set aside.
- Add a little olive oil to the pan, followed by the beef, salt and pepper. Brown and set aside.
- Add onions, garlic and celery to the pot and fry for 5min.
- Add the tomato paste and sugar, and mix, followed by the Guinness and beef stock. Simmer.
- Add the red wine and sherry, as well as the thyme sprigs. Simmer.
- Put the cooked bacon and browned beef back into the pot.
- Bring to the boil and cook for 20min with the lid on.
- Place your pot in the Wonderbag (we placed it on a cast iron trivet underneath the pot to prevent it burning our Wonderbag) , place the insulating cushion on top and close it all up so that it looks like this.
- Leave sealed for 3 hours.
- After 3 hours open up and lift lid. If the liquid needs thickening, make a slurry with the cornflour and water, add to the pot and mix well.
- Serve with mashed potato, rice or warm, crusty Irish soda bread.
I attempted this for the first time this last weekend, and it was a smashing success. The meat was beautiful, but the carrots and potatoes were both cooked properly too, something I’d been worried about! I so look forward to trying out more of my favourite slow cooker recipes using the Wonderbag.
Would you like to win your own Wonderbag? I have one up for grabs for you!
All you have to do is enter on either my Facebook or my Instagram post (but you can enter on both for a better chance at winning).
Good luck and happy St Patrick’s Day!
*DISCLAIMER – the Wonderbag was sent to me for review, but this recipe and my thoughts on the Wonderbag are my own.