Friday, July 16, 2010

Cooler/ Cooker Bags

While I was staying at Judi's house, we got together with a group of friends to make these really wonderful Cooler/ Cooker Bags.

I know the picture may look a little odd, but these bags are really amazing! They are designed with a bottom and top section.
A bag you can throw in the trunk of your car that will keep foods cold or hot for hours.
I really need these bags, especially here in St. George where the summer temps are currently hovering around 106-110 degrees.

My friend Rae Ann uses these bags all the time, especially when she brings a pot luck dish to a party. Rae Ann has placed a frozen fruit salad made whipping cream in a bowl, and placed it in the bag in her car. The salad sat for 4 hours, and when she pulled it out, it was still mostly frozen.
When we were at her cabin, Rae Ann and Lori went grocery shopping. The items that needed to stay cold (like eggs, milk, lunch meat, etc.) were placed in the bag. They went to lunch, and ran errands. By the time they got home several hours later, the food items were just as cold as when they placed them in the bag.

We all wanted to learn how to make these wonderful bags, so we met together and had a day "mini class".

Judi was our host.

The inside of the bags are filled with polystyrean beads. (The kind used in bean bags chairs).

Lori worked up a funnel to pour the beans into the bags.
No, that is not how it is supposed to be used!
That silly Lori always makes us laugh.

Here is the right technique.
*we used a mid-weight or decorator weight fabric that was found on clearance tables for around $3 a yard.
These bags can be made in very little time.

Pouring the beads into the bags worked best with a 2-person team.
You only use enough beads to fill the edges, allowing enough room for a bowl or other items to sit down in the middle.
These bags are often used as a "cooker", kind of like the concept of a solar crock pot.
You can bring a dish (like a stew) to a boil, and then place in the bag, making sure to put the lid securely around the top. It will then simmer for hours.

I did some research to find out about the original concept on the bag. It was created in South Africa in a booklet called "Compassion". They call it The Wonderbox and use it mainly for cooking.
A free PDF file for the pattern can be found at the web site I Will Prepare.
If you google "Wonderbox" there are many web sites that have recipes for cooking.

After sewing, we visited and watched the new baby deer come out of the bushes, to forage near Judi's kitchen window.
A delightful day with the ladies.


Material Mary said...

boy oh boy have you got me intrigued. Must make a couple--would make great gifts and I had yards of ugly fabric that needs to find a!!

Needled Mom said...

Great idea. I have done bean bag chairs and those little beads ended up everywhere so was glad to see how you handled them.

Cheran said...

And, if I keep these in the car for transporting groceries, whenever I need a nap at lunchtime, I've got an instant pillow! yay! These are way cool!

Kim Walus said...

I never got to make one of these when we made them in our ward. Thanks for sharing the website so I can download the pattern to make one, too.

Jane's Fabrics and Quilts said...

That is so interesting, thank you for sharing!

Lois Evensen said...

Really neat. Great idea. :)

Lori Holt said...

Hi Nedra...
Too bad I was too bust socializing to get mine finished!....oh was a fun day!
Did you finish yours?
xx Lori

Helen297 said...

Great idea. It gets so hot here in Perth Western Australia in summer that I could use one too! We have alot of lunches and morning teas at our Patchwork Group and transporting either hot or cold food is a problem. Also, there is only one oven and re-heating food is "crazy" when 40 people bring something that needs to be hot. We have Christmas in summer here and our Christmas Lunch at patchwork group usually consists of cold meats, salads and cold deserts. I like to take Pavlova which is topped with cream and strawberries, kiwi fruit and bananas so if I could keep it cold in one of those bags it would be great, because like the oven being overloaded with food, so is the fridge in summer. I have just started a blog and would love it if anyone would like to follow and post comments.
Hope to hear from you all soon,

Sherri said...

What a great idea...I need one of these bags!

Rae Ann said...

It was fun being with you Nedra and I am happy that you liked the wonder cooler and could get one made. Have fun teaching them in St. George!

Carol said...

What an incredible idea...I need to give that a in Florida I could use it all the time. Thank you for the idea and thank you for sharing another wonderful day with the girls. Oh and that little deer...soooooooooo sweet!

FabricandFlowers said...

What a clever idea! Thanks for sharing.

AnnieO said...

Very interesting technique! I don't often have to take dishes anywhere but that would be a great thing to have in the back of the car when I wanted to make a couple of stops after the grocery store. Thanks for sharing!

Nanette Merrill said...

Oh my gosh. So this is how they are made! Fantastic. I hate those beads though. So messy. But worth it.