It all began back in 2008 during the regular power outages. Sarah had the idea of creating the Wonderbag to ‘ease the impact of health, socioeconomic and environmental problems facing Africa and developing countries’. Growing up in rural Africa, she was passionate about empowering women living below the poverty line.
So, I’d been staring at the Wonderbag innocently sitting in the office for weeks – it had been flirting with me for a while – and in a moment of pure impulsiveness (these happen rather frequently), I bought it and took it home with recipes running through my head. Firstly, yoghurt. We loved making our own yoghurt in Vancouver with an electric yoghurt maker (which was on for 15hrs at a time), but now with Eskom pushing us off the grid, we’ve gotta get smart about these things.
I ripped open the box, smiled adoringly at my new purchase, and then headed into the kitchen to get going on the yoghurt. Following the recipe exactly (with my hardcore candy thermometer nogal), I placed my pot of yoghurt goodness – at exactly 110 degrees Fahrenheit – carefully into my Wonderbag. I showed hubby ever so proudly when he got home from work and we went to sleep, eager to get up in the morning and see the result.
The next morning I called the family together (no, really, I thought it a teachable moment) and I presented my first attempt at power-free cooking (you can picture the superwoman emblem beaming under my jarmies), and… it was a watery curdled mess. No no, this was not okay.
Here’s what I learned:
– Read the instructions before use, (duuuuuuuuuuh, every superwoman should know this)
– Don’t use a pot with a long handle that sticks out the bag. A cast iron pot like this is ideal:
– The Wonderbag does not produce heat – it retains heat (this had nothing to do with my failed yoghurt attempt, but is a good reminder).
As it turns out, I’d missed a vital part of how to get started. You need to open your (previously vacuum-packed) bag completely, give it a good shake to get all the chips moving and happy, to then close it tight, allow it to regain its shape and then get cooking. Errr. Oops.
So you could call it a rough introduction to my new purchase, but one that I’m happy to report has been beautifully redeemed.
I have since made a PERFECT batch of yoghurt, and mouth-wateringly delicious curry with the most tender chicken I might have ever tasted. I most recently made chicken stock which I’m thrilled I can make in the Wonderbag since we ALWAYS forget it on the stove and I way prefer it to store bought stock. After resting in the Wonderbag overnight, my stock measured in at an impressive 140 degrees F. That’s hot!
I find myself wanting to use it for everything I cook now. ‘Let’s make a soup, or another curry, steel cut oats, or risotto? Huh huh huh?’ The recipe booklet it comes with is another WIN. You’d be surprised what you can do with this seemingly simple bag.
My conclusion: You feel like you need a goodie badge for owning this little gem. It cooks food tenderly, is Eskom-free and a very, very practical accessory (errmm, dare I say essential?) for your kitchen. But for me, knowing it began as a community initiative supporting underprivileged women in rural townships in Africa; that makes my heart sing.
You can buy your very own Wonderbag online here. Do it!