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Prepared in the Office of Home Economics 


Contribution from the States Relations Service 
A. C. TRUE, Director 

Washington, D. C. Issued February, 1917; revised September, 1919 

Show this bulletin to a neighbor. Additional copies may be obtained free from the 
Division of Publications, United States Department of Agriculture 

AFIRELESS COOKER is a device for keeping food 
so hot after it has been taken from the stove that 
the process of cooking will be continued and com- 
pleted. It makes cooking easier and lessens the 
amount of fuel needed. It is usually more eco- 
nomical when used as a supplement to a gas, oil, or 
electric stove than to a coal or wood range in which 
a fire is kept all day for purposes other than cooking. 

This bulletin explains the principles on which a 
fireless cooker works and the kinds of food with 
which it can be most advantageously used, and 
gives simple directions by means of which an effi- 
cient one can be made at home from easily obtained 
and inexpensive materials. It includes general cook- 
ing directions for appetizing, inexpensive dishes of 
different types. 

Suggestions are also given for using the fireless 
cooker to keep things cool. 





The principle of the fireless cooker 3 

Advantages and limitations of the fireless 

cooker 3 

How to make a homemade fireless cooker 4 


How to use the fireless cooker 9 

Recipes for use with the fireless cooker 11 

The cooking box used as a refrigerator 16 


TN USING A FIRELESS COOKER the food is first heated on 
■i the stove until the cooking has begun and then it is placed in 
the fireless cooker, a tight receptacle in which the food is completely 
surrounded by some insulating substance, which prevents the rapid 
escape of the heat so that it is retained in the food in sufficient 
quantity to complete the cooking. Sometimes an additional source 
of heat, such as a hot soapstone or brick, is put into the cooker with 
the food where a higher cooking temperature is desired. The same 
principle is also employed in other ways in cookery. For example, 
in camps beans are often baked by burying the pots overnight with 
hot stones and ashes, the whole being covered with earth, and in the 
''clam bakes'' on the Atlantic coast the damp seaweed spread over the 
embers and the clams prevents the escape of the heat during cooking. 
The peasa^ts in some parts of Europe are said to start their dinner 
cooking and then put it into hay boxes or between feather beds so that 
the cooking may be completed while the family is absent in the fields. 
One of the chief advantages of the fireless cooker is that it accom- 
plishes a saving in fuel, especially where gas, kerosene, or electric 
stoves are used. Where coal or wood is the fuel, and the fire in the 
range is kept up most of the day, the saving in fuel is less. In sum- 
mer or when the kitchen fire is not needed for heating purposes, the 
dinner can be started on the stove early in the morning and then 
placed in the fireless cooker, the fire in the range being allowed to go 
out. During hot weather the use of a kerosene or other liquid-fuel 
stove and a fireless cooker is a great convenience, since it not only ac- 
complishes a saving in fuel but helps to keep the kitchen cooler. 

The fireless cooker is not equally well adapted to all kinds of cook- 
ing, particularly not to frying, boiling, roasting, and baking, which re- 
quire higher temperatures than can usually be obtained in cookers, 
even when hot soapstones or other devices for extra heat are used. It 
is sometimes recommended that the meat cooked in a fireless cooker be 
put into a hot oven for a few minutes before serving to give it the 
''browned'' flavor which most persons enjoy ; but of course this lessens 
the economy in fuel and increases the work of cooking, while it does 
not often develop as fine a flavor as ordinary hot, quick cooking. It 
is for cereals, dried beans, cer tain vegetables and fruit dishes, and the 

1 Prepared under the direction of C. F. Langworthy, chief, Office of Home Economics. 




tougher cuts of meat that the fireless cooker is most satisfactory^ be- 
cause these materials need long, slow cooking to bring out their best 
flavor and texture, and because the saving of fuel is then greater. 
In fact, some of these materials need such long cooking that it 
is often not economical to use them if one has only a gas, oil, or 
electric stove. When put to proper use, the fireless cookjgr is a 

great convenience, 
because it saves time 
as well as fuel. Foods 
cooking in it may be 
left to themselves 
while the cook is oc- 
cupied with other du- 
ties, or the family is 
away from home, 
without danger from 
fires or overcooking 
the food. 


It is possible to con- 
struct a homemade 
cooker which, if prop- 
erly built, will give 
very satisfactory re- 
sults and which will 
be cheaper than one 
purchased. If it is 
planned to use hot 
stones for extra heat, 
every precaution 
must be taken not to 
let these come in con- 
tact with anything 
inflammable; otherwise the fire risk is too great to make the cookers 
safe. The materials needed are a box or some other outside con- 
tainer, some good insulating or packing material, a kettle with a 
tightly fitting lid for holding the food, a container for the kettle or 
a lining for the nest in which the kettle is to be placed, and a cushion 
or pad of insulating material to cover the top of the kettle. 

For the outside container a tightly built wooden box, such as that 
shown in figure 1, is probably the most satisfactory. An old trunk, 
a small barrel, or a large butter or lard firkin or tin may be used. 
Another possibility is a galvanized-iron bucket with a closely fitting 
cover; this latter has the advantage of being fireproof. A shoe box 
15 by 15 by 28 inches, is convenient in size, since it may be divided 

Fig. 1.— Homemade fireless cooker, showing outside container and 
cushion for filling space above the cooking vessel. 


into two compartments. The box should have a hinged cover, and at 
the front side a hook and staple or some other device to hold the 
cover down; an ordinary clamp window fastener answers the latter 
purpose very well. The container should be large enough to allow 
for at least 4 inches of packing material all around the nest in which 
the kettle is placed. 

The kettles used for cooking should be durable and free from 
seams or crevices, which are hard to clean. They should have per- 
pendicular sides and the covers should be as flat as possible and 
provided with a deep rim shutting well down into the kettle to retain 
the steam. (See fig. 2.) It is possible to buy kettles made especially 
for use in fireless cookers; these are provided with covers which can 
be clamped on tightly. The size of the kettle should be determined 
by the quantity of the food to be cooked. Small amounts of food can 
not be cooked satisfactorily in large kettles, and it is therefore an 
advantage to have a cooker with compartments of two or more differ- 
entsizes. Kettleshold- 
ing about 6 quarts are 
of convenient size for 
general use. Tinned 
iron kettles should not 
be used in a fireless 
cooker, for, although 
cheap, they are very 
apt to rust from the 
confined moisture. 
Enameled ware kettles 
are satisfactory, es- 
pecially if the covers are of the same material. Aluminum vessels 
may be purchased in shapes which make them especially well adapted 
for use in fireless cookers and, like enameled ware, they do not rust 

Fireless cookers are adapted to a much wider range of cooking 
if they are provided with an extra source of heat, since a higher 
cooking temperature may thus be obtained than if hot water is de- 
pended upon as the sole source of heat. Obviously this introduces 
a possible danger from fire in case the hot stone or other substance 
should come into direct contact with inflammable packing material 
like excelsior or paper. To avoid this danger a metal lining must be 
provided for the nest in which the cooking vessel and stone are to be 
put. As an extra source of heat a piece of soapstone, brick, or an iron 
plate, such as a stove lid, may be used. This is heated and placed in 
the nest under the cooking vessel; sometimes an additional stone is 
put over the cooking vessel. 

The container for the cooking vessel, or the lining for the nest in 
which it is to be put, should be cylindrical in shape; should be deep 

-Cover provided with deep rim shutting down 
into the kettle to retain the steam. 



enough to hold the cooking kettle and stone, if one is used; and 
should fit as snugly as possible to the cooking vessel, but at the same 
time should allow the latter to be moved in and out freely. If the 
cylinder is too large the air space between it and the kettle will tend 
to cool the food. For the lining a galvanized iron or other metal 
bucket may be used or, better still, a tinsmith can make a lining of 
galvanized iron or zinc which can be provided with a rim to cover the 
packing material (as shown in fig. 3) . In case no hot stone or plate is 
to be used in the cooker, the lining can be made of strong cardboard. 

For the packing and insulating material a variety of substances 
may be used. Asbestos and mineral wool are undoubtedly the best, 
and have the additional advantage that they do not burn. Ground 
cork (such as is used in packing Malaga grapes), hay, excelsior, 
Spanish moss, wool, and crumpled paper may also be used satisfac- 
torily. Of the inexpensive materials that can be obtained easily, 

crumpled paper is 
probably the most 
satisfactory, since it 
is clean and odorless 
and, if properly 
packed, will hold the 
heat better than some 
of the others. To 
pack the container 
with paper, crush 
single sheets of news- 
paper between the 
hands. Pack a layer 
at least 4 inches deep 
over the bottom of 
the outside container, tramping it in or pounding it in with a 
heavy stick of wood. Stand the container for the cooking vessel, 
or the lining for the nest, in the center of this layer and pack 
more crushed papers about it as solidly as possible. The method 
of packing with paper is illustrated in figure 4. If other packing, 
such as excelsior, hay, or cork dust, is used, it should be packed 
in a similar way. Where an extra source of heat is to be used, 
it is much safer to pack the fireiess cooker with some non- 
inflammable material, such as asbestos or mineral wool. A cheap 
and easily obtained substitute are the small cinders sifted from coal 
ashes, preferably those from soft coal, which may be obtained at the 
boiler house of any mill. The cinders from hard coal burned in the 
kitchen range will do, however. Experiments with this material made 
in this office showed that it is very nearly as satisfactory as crumpled 
paper as a packing material. If a fireproof packing material is not 
used, a heavy pad of asbestos paper should be put at the bottom of 

Fig. 3. — Metal lining for nest of fireiess cooker : A, Rim to 
cover packing material. B, Metal container for cooking 
kettle and hot stone. 



the metal nest and a sheet or two of asbestos paper should be placed 
between the lining of the nest and the packing material. 'Whatever 
packing material is used, it should come to the top of the container 
for the kcttlc; and the box should lack about 4 inches of being full. 
A cushion or pad must be provided to fill completely the space 
between the top of the packing and the cover of the box after the 
hot kettles are put in place. (Sec fig. 1, p. 4.) This should be 
made of some heavy goods, such as denim, and stuffed with cotton, 
crumpled paper, or 
excelsior. Hay may 
be used, but will be 
found more or less 
odorous. Figure 5 
shows the vcr tic al 
cross section of a 
homemade fireless 

In the home-dem- 
onstration work in 
the South a tightly 
built box, an old 
trunk, a galvanized- 
iron ash can, a candy 
bucket, a tinlard can, 
a lard tub, and a but- 
ter firkin are among 
the containers that 
have been success- 
fully used in the con- 
struction of fireless 
cookers. The essen- 
tial parts of one such 
cooker are shown in 
figure 6. In this 
cooker the inside con- 
tainer or nest which holds the vessel of hot food may bo a bucket 
of agate, galvanized iron, or tin. This nest must be deep enough 
to hold the hot stone or brick and the vessel of food but not large 
enough to leave much space. The inside container must have a 
tight fitting cover and straight sides are desirable. The packing 
or insulation must be some material which is a poor conductor 
of heat, such as lint cotton, cottonseed hulls, wool, shredded news- 
paper, Spanish moss, ground cork, hay, straw, and excelsior. Sheet 
asbestos one-eighth of an inch thick or hcav^^ cardboard has proved 

Fig. 4.— Homemade fireless cooker with piart of "outside container 
removed to show packing of crumpled paper and the cooking vessel, 
with its container. 



to be the best lining for the outer container and the wrapping for the 
nest. Heavy wrapping paper or several sheets of newspaper may 
be used for lining the outer container, but the nest should be wrapped 
with asbestos or heavy cardboard to prevent the hot stone scorching 
or burning the packing. 

1. It is well to have the outside container large enough to permit 
4 inches of packing below and around the sides of the nest. If a 
cooker is being made with two nests, 6 inches of packing should be 
allowed between the nests. Pack into the bottom of the lined outer 

container 4 inches of 
the packing. Place 
the nest or inside con- 
tainer wrapped with 
asbestos or heavy 
cardboard and hold 
steady while the pack- 
ing is put around 
tightly and firmly un- 
til it reaches the top 
of the nest. 

2. Make a collar, as 
shown in the illustra- 
tion, of cardboard, 
sheet asbestos, or wood 
to cover the exposed 
surface of the insulated 
material. This collar 
should fit tightly. 

3. Make a cushion 
which when filled with 
the packing will be at 

_ ^ ^ .X , X. ^ 1 , least 4 inches thick 

Fig. 5. — Longitudinal section through fireless cooker, show- •n mi 

ing details of the construction : A, Outside container and Will fill completely 
(wooden box, old trunk, etc.) B Packing or insulating ^j^^ ^ between the 

material (crumpled paper, cinders, etc.). C, Metal ^ 

lining of nest. D, Cooking kettle. E, Soapstone plate, top of the nest and the 
or other source of heat. F, Pad of excelsior for covering j^^ ^£ ^-^^ OUtside COn- 
top. G, Hinged cover of outside container. . t n i i 

tamer. It should nt 

against the top tightly enough to cause pressure when the lid is 

4. The outside of the fireless cooker can be made more attractive 
by staining or painting it. The lid may be held in place by a screen- 
door hook and eyes. The cooker may be placed on casters so that 
it can be easily moved. 

— c 




As already indicated, the fireless cooker has its limitations and 
must be used with judgment to obtain the best results. It is best 
suited to those foods which require boiling, steaming, or long, slow 
cooking in a moist heat. Foods can not be fried in it, pies can 
not be baked successfully in the ordinary fireless cooker, nor can 
any cooking be done which requires a high, dry heat for brown- 
ing. Meats, however, may be partially roasted in the oven and 
finished in the cooker, or may be begun in the cooker and fin- 
ished in the oven with much the same results as if they were 
roasted in the oven entirely. The classes of food best adapted to the 

Fig 6.— Material necessary for constructing a homemade fireless cooker. 

cooker are cereals ; soups, meats, vegetables, dried fruits, steamed 
breads, and puddings. 

When different foods are eooked together in the fireless cooker, 
they must be such as require the same amount of cooking, since the 
cooker can not be opened to take out food without allowing the 
escape of a large amount of heat and making it necessary to reheat 
the contents. It would not do to put foods which require one and 
one-half hours into the cooker with a piece of meat which would stay 
several hours. 

The size of the container used should be governed according to the 
amount of food to be cooked. Small quantities of food can not be 
handled satisfactorily in a large kettle in the fireless cooker. If a 



large kettle must be used better results will be obtained if some other 
material which holds heat fairly well is used to fill up the empty space. 
This may be accomplished in several ways. One is to put the small 
quantity of food to be cooked into a smaller, tightly closed kettle, fill 
the large kettle with boiling water and put the small kettle into it, 
standing it on an inverted bowl or some other suitable support. This 
boiling water will take up and hold the heat better than air would. 
Several smaller dishes (if tightly covered) may be placed in the kettle 
surrounded by boiling water. Baking powder or other tins often are 
found useful for this purpose. Another way is to place one food in a 
basin which just fits into the top of a large kettle and to let some 
other material, some vegetable perhaps, cook in the water in the 
bottom of the kettle. Two or more flat, shallow kettles placed one 
on top of the other so as to fill the cooker enable one to cook small 
amounts of different foods successfully. Such kettles, made especially 
for use in fireless cookers, may be purchased. 

The time which each kind of food should stay in the cooker de- 
pends both on the nature of the food and on the temperature at which 
it remains inside the cooker, and before recipes for use with the fire- 
less cooker can be prepared one must have some means of knowing 
how temperatures are preserved in it. In experiments made in this 
office a 6-quart kettle was filled with boiling water and put into 
the cooker, the packing of which happened to be newspaper. The 
temperature of the water, which was 212° F. when put into the 
cooker, was found to be 172° F. after four hours had elapsed and 
155° F. after eight hours had elapsed. This shows the advisabihty 
of the common custom of allowing food to remain undisturbed in 
the cooker for at least six or eight hours, or in some cases overnight. 
If a soapstone, hot brick, or other extra source of heat is used, less 
time will be required. Materials which are denser than water (sugar 
sirup as used in cooking dried fruit), and therefore can be heated 
to a higher degree, will keep up the temperature longer when put into 
the cooker. Thus the density of the food material, as well as the 
amount and the length of time that the apparatus retains the heat, 
must be taken into consideration in determining how long different 
materials must remain in the cooker. 

The recipes for dishes to be prepared in the fireless cooker differ 
somewhat from those for foods cooked in the ordinary way, chiefly 
in the amount of water or other liquids called for. Less liquid should 
be put into the. food to be prepared in an ordinary fireless cooker, 
since there is no chance for water to evaporate. The cook must bo 
guided largely by experience in deciding how long the food should 
be heated before being put into the cooker and how long it should 
b© allowed to remain there. Fortunately there are several good fire- 




less cookbooks on the market whose directions can be relied upon, 
and at the end of this publication several selected recipes are given. 


The following recipes ^ have been used in extension work in the 
Southern States: 


1 medium-sized fowl. J cup rice. 

2 cups tomato. 1 teaspoon salt. 

1 cup okra. 1 cup boiling water. 

1 cup chopped sweet peppers. 1 tablespoon fat. 

i cup chopped onion. 

Dress the fowl and cut into joints. Melt the fat, add onion and pepper. Cook for 
a few minutes to develop flavor. Then add salt, tomato, and okra and simmer for 
10 minutes. Place layers of the chicken, vegetable mixture, and rice in cooking 
vessel until all is used. Pour over this 1 cup boiling water. Simmer for one-half 
hour and put in fireless cooker for three hours without the hot disk or two hours with 
it. Additional seasoning of ham or bacon, parsley, and bay leaf may be used. 

A ham bone may be substituted for the ham or bacon. If this is done, boil it for 
one-half hour in enough water to cover. Then add 1 cup of the ham broth to the 
tomato before cooking it with the bay leaf. This recipe is a good way to use chicken 
too old to fry or broil. A similar dish can be made by using a quart of canning club 
soup mixture. "When necessary, thicken the broth with a little browned flour before 
putting the chicken into the cooker. 


Hominy grits. — Five cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup hominy grits. Pick over 
and wash hominy grits. Have the salted water boiling and add the hominy solwly, 
so as not to stop the boiling. Continue to boil rapidly for 10 minutes over the fire, 
then put the vessel into the cooker as quickly as possible and allow to remain (over- 
night) for about 12 hours. The vessel of hominy may be placed in another vessel of 
boiling water before being placed in the cooker. 

Samp {coarse hominy). — One-half cup samp soaked in 1 cup cold water 6 hours. 
Add li teaspoons salt and 3 cups boiling water. Boil rapidly 45 minutes. Put into 
cooker for 8 to 12 hours. 

Oatmeal. — Three cups water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 cup oatmeal. Carefully look over 
the oatmeal and remove any husks or foreign substance. Add gradually to the boil- 
ing salted water and boil rapidly for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Now it may be 
put into the cooker. After 2 or 3 hours it is soft, but a better flavor will be developed 
by longer cooking. It may remain in the cooker overnight in the same manner the 
hominy grits are cooked (about 12 hours). Next morning it may have to be reheated. 
To do this, set the cooker pan in a vessel of water over the fire. When the water boils 
up well, the oatmeal may be served. 

Plain rice. — One cup rice, 3 cups water, IJ teaspoons salt. Look over and wash 
the rice through several waters, until cloudiness is removed. Bring the salted water 
to a boil. One-half teaspoon lard may be added. Then add rice gradually to the 
boiling water in the cooker vessel so as not to stop the boiling. The grains should 
be kept moving in the boiling water and be allowed to boil 5 minutes before 
putting it into the cooker for 45 minutes or an hour. 

1 Prepared by Miss Ola Powell and Miss Mary E. Creswell. 


farmers' bulletin 771. 

There is a considerable difference in rice. Old rice absorbs more water than new 
rice, and the time for cooking it will vary. An hour will be sufficient usually for this 
small amount. Rice is injured by overcooking. When rice is tender, drain in colan- 
der and place in warm oven for about 5 minutes. Serve at once. Sometimes it is well 
after draining rice in colander to pour cold water over it. This will wash away the 
starchy substance between the grains and keej) them from adhering or sticking to- 
gether. Then place the colander in a hot oven to heat and dry out the rice. If 
desired, the lard may be omitted. It lends a brilliancy to the rice grains when cooked. 

Rice in pilaf(2iii oriental mixture) .—Two cups stock, I cup rice, 2 tablespoons butter, 
I teaspoon sugar, 2 slices onion, 6 ripe tomatoes or I cup canned tomato juice, I tea- 
spoon salt, i teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped green sweet pepper may be added. 

Look over and wash the rice. Chop the onion very finely and fry in 1 tablespoon 
of the butter until yellow. Add to it the boiling juice of the tomatoes and the boil- 
ing broth and allow all to boil before adding the rice gradually so as not to stop the 
boiling. Boil mixture about 5 minutes and place in cooker 1 hour. When ready 
to serve, add I tablespoon butter. Stir with a fork to mix evenly. Pilaf is injured 
by overcooking. 


Vegetable soup (made without stock). — One half cup carrots, i cup turnips, I cup 
potatoes, i cup onions, ^ cup cabbage, 3 cups tomato juice or I No. 3 can tomatoes, 
I tablespoon flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon celery seed (crushed), 1 quart water, 
4 tablespoons butter, i tablespoon parsley, J teaspoon pepper. 

Cut all vegetables (except potatoes and onions and parsley) into small pieces. 
Cook them for 10 minutes in 3 tablespoons butter. Add potatoes and cook 3 minutes 
longer. Mix all ingredients (except parsley) in the cooker utensil and boil 5 min- 
utes. Mix 1 tablespoon butter and I tablespoon flour; add enough of the liquor to 
make it smooth and pour it into the mixture. Cook 5 minutes more and put into 
the cooker for 4 to 6 hours. 

Creole soup (made with stock).— Stock: Two pounds shin beef (meat and bone), IJ 
quarts water. Cut the meat from the bone into small pieces. Crack the bone and 
soak I hour in cold water. Bring to a boil slowly and when boiling place in the 
cooker for 5 to 7 hours. When cooked, strain and set away to cool. The cake of fat 
which forms on top when stock is cold seals the stock and keeps out air and germs 
and should not be removed until soup is to be made. Then fat is removed and stock 
heated and any seasonings or additions desired are put in. 

To I quart of this stock or I quart water in which chicken has been cooked, add 
I quart of canned soup mixture and 2 tablespoons rice or barley, bring to a boil and 
cook in cooker 2 to 3 hours. 

Meat and vegetable combinations .—With the less tender cuts of beef and mutton 
which require long, slow cooking, delicious dishes may be prepared by adding vege- 
tables and cooking in the fireless cooker. 

Cut the meat into cubes, dredge with flour, and brown it in meat drippings or lard 
and butter. Then brown the onions in the same fat. For every 3 or 4 cups of meat 
use one of the following vegetable combinations or 1 quart of canning club soup 
mixture. Put into the fireless cooker vessel and add I cup boiling water with the first 
combination or 2 cups water with the second one. Boil for 5 minutes and put into 
cooker for 3 or 4 hours. 


2 cups okra. 

2 cups tomatoes. 

2 onions. 

1^ teaspoons salt. 

■J teaspoon pepper. 


2 cups potatoes. 
I cup turnips. 

1 cup carrots. 

2 onions. 

i cup celery or 1 tablespoon celery seed, 


The following recipes ^ have been used in demonstrations in con- 
nection with the extension work in the Northern and Western States: 


Cereal breakfast foods should be prepared at night while the fire for supper is hot. 
Measure the required quantity of boiling water into the cooker kettle; add salt and 
cereal; let boil 10 minutes and place in box overnight. Reheating in the morning 
will probably be necessary. In winter enough for two or three breakfasts may be 
cooked at once and reheated as wanted. The food in the inner kettle should be 
cooked about five minutes before placing in the outer kettle. Then the whole should 
stand over the flame until the water boils in the outer kettle. Any other kind of 
breakfast cereal may be cooked by adopting these general directions. 

The raw cereal breakfast foods, such as plain oatmeal, hominy, cracked wheat, etc., 
cost less than those which are partly cooked by steam at the factory, but frequently 
housekeepers prefer not to use them because they require so many hours of cooking. 
A cooking box, however, is especially well adapted for cooking just this sort of ma- 
terial. Even the cereal preparations which are partly cooked at the factory and are 
supposed to need only a few minutes cooking to make them ready for the table are 
much improved by long, slow cooking, such as they get in the cooking box. The 
flavor and texture of cereal breakfast foods are influenced by the length of time they 
are cooked, and with the cooking box it is easily possible to secure the texture and 
flavor dependent upon long, slow cooking. 


The cheap cuts of meats are rich in the food materials that make palatable dishes, 
and the bones and scraps are good for making wholesome soup. If care is taken to 
use material which might otherwise be wasted, the real expense for most meat soups 
is in the long cooking required. The long-continued, slow cooking which a tough 
piece of meat obtains in the cooking box and the thorough extraction to which bones 
and soup meat are subjected mean that the cooking box makes stews, ragouts, and 
similar dishes and soups cheap foods for the table. American families do not, as a 
rule, use as much soup as do foreigners, and thus they miss a useful and pleasant addi- 
tion to the daily bill of fare, and one which may be served without much extra work 
or expense, if rightly prepared. 

J'or making soup stock or broth with the cooking box, the soup bones should be 
well split up, or the soup meat should be cut into small pieces. Wash the meat, 
pl^ce it in the kettle, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil on the stove and boil 
15 minutes. Do this at night if the soup is to be used at noon the next day. Place 
in the cooker overnight. In the morning remove meat and bones from soup. Strain 
and remove fat. Return soup and meat to kettle, adding whatever seasoning is de- 
sired. Bring to a boiling point again and return it to the box and let remain until 
noon. This stock may be used as a foundation for several soups, such as vegetable 
soup, clear soup, or noodle soup. 

Beef soup may be varied almost infinitely by the different seasonings which may 
be added. There is scarcely a vegetable grown which is not good in beef soup. In 
winter many of the dried vegetables, such as beans, peas, lentils, etc., are excellent 
for this purpose. 

Dried Lima beans, peas, and lentils make excellent soup without meat. Since they 
require long-continued cooking, they are well adapted to fireless-cooker methods. 
These dried vegetables, cooked with less water and no meat, rubbed through a coarse 
sieve and made into the proper consistency with milk or thin cream, and seasoned 
to taste, make so-called ' ' cream " soups. Soups made by thinning the cooked legumes 
with water and seasoning with onion (fried until pale brown), with celery tops, and 
other vegetables are very palatable also. 

1 Prepared by Mrs. K. C. Davis and Miss Angeline Wood. 



g- MEATS. 

Some cuts of meats which are not so readily prepared for the table by the usual 
methods may be made especially palatable. The experimenter will soon learn that in 
cooking meats the amount of boiling over the flame and the time in the box will depend 
upon the size of the pieces of meat being cooked . Meat cut into pieces for stew will heat 
through more readily and cook in a shorter time than will a large ham, for example. 
Most recipes for stews, pot roasts, boiled meats, and similar dishes can be readily 
adapted to the fireless cooker and save time and fuel. The following recipes are all 
well adapted to the cooking box, as all of them are dishes which require considerable 
time for their preparation by the usual methods: 

Pot roast. — ^Use any preferred cut. Sear in hot fat in a skillet. Place the meat in 
the cooker kettle and cover with boiling water. Boil gently for 30 minutes (20 min- 
utes will suffice if the roast is 3 pounds or less). Place in the cooker overnight. Re- 
heat in the morning, season, and return to the cooking box until noon. Thicken 
some of the liquor for gravy. If it is desired to slice cold for next dinner, return meat 
to liquor and let stand until wanted. 

Brown fricassee of chicken. — Joint the chicken and brown in fat after rolling in flour. 
As pieces brown pack them in the kettle. When all are browned make gravy in the 
skillet where the browning was done. Add this to the chicken with enough boiling 
water to cover. Salt and pepper. Boil 20 minutes. Place in box overnight. Re- 
heat and return to box until noon. This length of time in the box will reduce the 
toughest old fowl on the farm to a state where the meat will fall from the bones. 

Roast meat. — Prepare a 4-pound rib roast as for oven roasting. It can be tied more 
compactly if the ribs are removed. Place in pan in very hot oven for half an hour, or 
sear the roast until brown in a frying pan and then place it in the oven for 20 minutes. 
Have ready a small pail into which the roast will fit as closely as possible. Place the 
seared and heated roast in this and set it into the large kettle used in the box, with, 
enough boiling water to come well up around the small pail. Place in the box for three 

Boasting tough poultry. — ^Many housewives make a practice of stewing chicken 
or turkey which they think is likely to be tough, and the practice is a good one. It 
is, however, much easier to boil for 15 or 20 minutes and then put the fowl, boiling 
hot, into the cooker and let it remain 10 hours. It should then be drained, wiped 
dry, and stuffed, if stuffing is desired, and roasted long enough to brown it well. 

Boiled dinner. — Cook a piece of corned beef and a piece of salt pork in the cooker 
overnight. In the morning prepare all the vegetables it is desired to use and place 
in the kettle with meat. The greater the variety the better the dinner. Boil 10 or 15 
minutes and return to the cooker. It is best to leave potatoes until an hour and a 
quarter before serving, as they are the only vegetables likely to suffer from too long 
a time in the cooker. "When they are added bring the contents of the kettle to the 
boiling point again . The liquid from the boiled dinner makes a good soup if the corned 
beef and salt pork have been parboiled to remove some of the salt. 


Carrots, peas, string beans, onions, beets, turnips, parsnips, salsify, and in fact 
all vegetables may be cooked in the cooking box. They must be given time accord- 
ing to their age. A safe rule for all green vegetables is two and a half times as long in 
the cooker as if boiled on the stove. This method is particularly good for such vegetables 
as onions, cabbage, and cauliflower, as there is no escape of odor from the cooker. A 
further advantage with cabbage, cauliflower, and other green vegetables is that over- 
cooking is avoided. When green vegetables are cooked too long in boiling water they 
turn yellow and lose their fine flavor. This they do not do so readily at the same tem- 
perature of the cooking box. 



Boston beans and other dried vegetables. — In cooking^-y beans, the time required 
either in the oven or the cooking box will vary with thSfength of time the beans have 
been kept ; the older the beans the more cooking required. Soak 1 quart of beans over 
night; in the morning drain them and cover with cold water and heat to boiling. 
Let boil until the skins will burst when touched very lightly, adding one-fourth 
teaspoon of soda a few minutes before taking from the fire. Drain through a colander. 
Return to the kettle and add 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of mustard, 3 tablespoonfuls 
molasses, and one-half pound of salt pork, washed and scraped, and cover with boiling 
water. Let boil 20 or 30 minutes, then place in the cooking box. If the beans are 
new, six hours in the box will be long enough. Old beans require longer cooking and 
should be left in the box overnight, then reheated in the morning, and returned to the 
box. They will be ready to serve for the midday meal. 

Dried vegetables, such as peas, beans, Lima beans, lentils, or corn may be soaked in 
cold water several hours, and then after the preliminary boiling of a few minutes kept 
from 6 to 12 hours in the cooker. They may be cooked with salt pork, and thus pre- 
pared they are liked by many, or they may be cooked with vegetable oil, as olive oil, 
or they may be cooked plain and seasoned with salt, pepper, and butter or cream. 
The longer, then, dry vegetables are cooked in the box the more palatable and the 
more digestible they will be 


In the case of dried fruits as well as dried vegetables long continued, slow cooking 
is desirable. A common method is as follows: Wash the fruit well and let it soak in 
cold water until it has regained its natural size, and then place on the back of the range 
and allow it to remain there for 20 hours, but do not permit it to boil. When fruit is 
prepared in the cooking box, it should be washed and soaked in the way described, 
heated in the water in which it has been soaked, not quite to the boiling point, and 
then placed in the cooker for five or six hours. Because less water evaporates than 
when cooking on the stove, a smaller proportion of water will be needed for good 
results. If too much is used the sirup will not be quite so rich as usual. Fruit should 
always be cooked in an enamelware or an earthenware dish, as tin or iron may impart 
an unpleasant flavor to acid fruit, and also give it an undesirable color. 


Steamed or boiled puddings, or such as require long, slow cooking, and steamed 
bread, like Boston brpwn bread, are the kinds best adapted to the cooking box. 
Every family has its favorite recipes and these may be used, as the method of pro- 
cedure is the same for cooking all such foods. 

The steamed or boiled puddings or breads should be placed in molds well buttered. 
For this purpose pound baking-powder cans are excellent. Coffee cans or other tin 
boxes of suitable size with covers will do. After filling about two-thirds full to allow 
for the expansion or rising of the batter or dough, the cans are placed in the cooker 
kettle and should have the covers put on before the boiling begins. If any covers are 
missing, paper may be tied tightly over the tops. If there are not enough cans to fill 
the kettle so that they will not tip over when the boiling water is poured around them, 
an empty can or two may be wedged in, to hold the others in place. Fill the kettle as 
full as possible of boiling water, as the more water the longer the heat will be retained. 
Place the kettle on the stove and boil for a full half hour and then keep the kettle 
and contents in the cooking box three to six hours, or longer if the cans are large ones. 
This applies particularly to breads or puddings made with wheat flour. If they 
contain cornmeal or graham flour they should be cooked for a longer time in the 

On removing from the cooker it is a good plan to set the loaves of bread in a hot 
oven for 10 minutes to dry them a little. 




The fireless cooker da be used to keep things cold as well as hot, 
because heat can not pass in from the outside to warm the contents 
any more than it can pass out to cool them. In this respect it works 
very much like ji refrigerator. In fact, both the cooking box and the 
ice box are cbBstructed on the same principle, namely that of sup- 
plying a constant-temperature chamber with nonconducting walls. 
Well-construct^ ice boxes are made with some insulating material 
or dead-air space between the inner and outer walls, and the covers 
and doors close in such a way as to prevent heat escaping in or out 
through them. Of course, the more often the doors are opened, 
the more heat passes in and the more quickly the ice melts and the 
temperature rises throughout all parts of the box. Fortunately this 
is less serious than the loss of heat when a fireless cooker is opened. 

When the cooker is used to keep things cool, they must be chilled to 
the desired temperature before they are put in. The more nearly 
heat proof the walls, the longer the material keeps its original tem- 
perature. Ice cream put in a well-made fireless cooker ought to 
remain firm as long as packed in salt and ice in an ordinary freezer. 
Many cooks prefer to pack such half-frozen deserts as mousse or 
parfait in the receptacle of a fireless cooker rather than in a freezer 
because there is less danger of their getting too cold and hard. It is 
often convenient to make cold drinks, like lemonade or fruit punch, 
some hours before they are used. By chilling them and then putting 
them into the cooker they can be kept cool without ice. In the same 
way milk, delivered before it can be taken into the house in the morn- 
ing, can be kept as cool as it was in the delivery wagon if a box like 
a fireless cooker is provided to set the bottles into. This may make 
many hours difference in the time the milk keeps sweet. 

Sometimes a little ice is put into the box with the food to make it 
cooler, just as hot soapstones or bricks are put in to make it hotter. 
Because there is less space to keep cool, much less ice is needed than 
in the chamber of an ice box. The ice in the cooker melts very 
slowly and so keeps the temperature down much longer than if it 
were used in an open pitcher. This is an excellent way to keep a 
bottle of milk when ice is scarce. If it is shut in the cooker pail with 
a little cracked ice (5 cents^ worth is ample for a quart of milk) the 
milk wiU keep its temperature for 24 hours, even in hot weather. 

What is best to use for things to be kept cool in the 
cooker depends on their kind. The material can often be put directly 
into the pail, just as if it were to be cooked. For liquids it is some- 
times more convenient to use a low bottle or a fruit jar which wiU 
set into the nest. If ice is to be used, it is usually cracked and packed 
around the bottle or dish.