Wednesday, April 09, 2008

journeys with my thermos

With all this talk about lunch lately – I thought it was time to discuss essential gadgets for eating on the go. When it comes to food on the run, my one and only is the humble thermos flask.

You may have noticed that not a single recipe on the site uses the miraculous “kitchen TV”. I have not been taught to salivate, Pavlovian like, at the ping of at microwave. I don’t like what they do to the texture of food nor wish to trust my health to one for the sake of so-called convenience, let’s leave it at that.

So, enter the thermos. This simple device keeps food and drinks hot or cold. It means you can eat when you are out and about without a power source or any other equipment. It is the ultimate recyclable food or beverage container.

Here are a few notable uses of mine:

Thermos porridge: Think cooking oatmeal conventionally takes too long or is too messy to clean up? Try this simple recipe I got from a hippy book written in the 70’s.

Before going to bed, first warm your thermos with some boiling water for about 10 minutes. Take 1/2-1 cup whole rolled oats and twice as much boiling water (or boiling milk of some kind) and pour into a wide-mouthed thermos. You can add sultanas or dried cranberries if you like, a little cinnamon or nutmeg – whatever accoutrements suit your palate. Screw the lid on well. You can wrap it in a towel too if you want extra insulation if it is somewhere cold.

In the morning – wherever you are – simply pour out the contents (into the handy bowl/cup that sits on the top if you are away from home). Voila – porridge. A healthy, warm, sustaining breakfast of champions.

Soup in the snow: I used to go out with a snow bunny. I will be forever grateful for him taking me on my first trip to Lake Mountain. For a kiwi who’d only skied downhill before, cross country skiing amongst the gum trees, on a blue skied winter's day was one of the most beautiful experiences I have had in Australia. What made it even better was the trusty thermos.

The night before I made a pot of hearty bean and vegetable soup. Getting up at the crack of dawn, I heated the pot on the stovetop while I showered the sleep from my eyes and donned my thermal clothing. Once again I warmed the thermos, poured in the aromatic soup and headed off in the car a few hours out of Melbourne to the snow. I can assure you that after a morning of falling on my derriere, soup has never tasted so good! He did his part by carrying one of those blue thermal mats for us to sit on and we dined amongst the snow gums. The perfect winter picnic.

Some people have even be known to take soup to work for lunch.

Pre-theatre drinks: In the final days of the docks before it became an artificial city, some of the old buildings that once stored cargo were put to a good use as a venue for dance parties and theatre. One spring evening I caught the tram down to see a performance with a friend and sat on the edge of the old docks with a flask of perfectly cool cocktails – brandy, freshly squeezed orange juice and ice. Very pleasant and ultimately more memorable than the show.

The thermos was invented in 1892. I wonder if the microwave oven will be so widely used and loved 115 years on from it's inception?

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Blogger Jane said...

I find the thermos indispensable for sporting events. During summer, a thermos of gin and tonic was just the ticket for a 20Twenty Vic v NSW cricket match. In footy season, we either mull some wine or make hot chocolate with frangelico. The thermos is a perfect cover: only innocent people who like soup and tea own thermoses, right?

9:27 am  
Blogger Lucy said...

I am legendary in my small family as the girl who broke every single thermos we ever had (always on picnics for some reason, knocking them over, dropping them from great heights...). We must have been buying crappy cheap thermoses is all I can say, but boy, do I love mine as an adult.

Fellow microwave-skeptic over here!

9:38 am  
Blogger Cindy said...

My first real appreciation of the thermos was when it contained hot chocolate, consumed around a campfire in the snow while we listened for owls in a Swedish forest. It was -7 degrees C.

And thermos cocktails - yes yes yes! Michael and I had cosmopolitans on a wetland picnic this summer.

11:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love my thermos. IPerfect for carrying soup, dal or something else warm and comforting around in winter. At the first sign of a cold, I fill mine with hot ginger and lemon tea to transport around with me and sip throughout the day.

5:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just bought a kiddies wide mouthed plastic thermos to use for eating porridge on the train in the morning. It's nowhere near as efficient as a proper thermos (only keeps the porridge hot for the hour that I need) but I love it because it weighs virtually nothing to carry round for the rest of the day.

I'm nearly converted enough to invest in a proper thermos for winter!

5:52 pm  
Blogger GS said...

Thanks everyone for your responses. Lucy the new thermos flasks don't use glass, so you can't bread them. Though as Sophie has discovered they don't keep things as warm. The overnight porridge isn't piping hot but is for me just the right temp to eat it directly.

My sister emailed me to say she remembers a distinctive odour/taste from thermos food/drinks of our childhood. So do I but the new (not glass) ones don't. Just her writing about it can bring back the aroma!

Has anyone found the perfect thermos yet?

8:35 am  
Blogger Johanna GGG said...

I confess to loving my microwave but I have never owned a thermos - my mum still uses one for cups of tea at picnics but I am not a big tea drinker - but I have been wondering if I should get one for winter soups!

1:25 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too love the humble thermos, but as a child I broke them rather more often than my mother would have liked. The 'milos' always had a vaugly plasticy/rubbery taste, something to do with the degradation of the seal l guess. Football in country victoria and my mum kitting in the front of the station wagon, nattering to Mrs Quigley, are some of my early associations.

1:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soup or baked beans for school lunches in winter! Such memories.
I have also heard recently of a friend of a friend, who pops a couple of hotdogs and boiling water into his thermos, and when he arrives at the football - viola! hotdogs (without having the shell out the hard earned on over priced ones at the game!

1:12 pm  

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