THE fireless cooker is coming into general use in almost every household, and with good reason. Not only does it mean a tremendous saving of fuel and of energy on the part of the housewife, but it produces better results with many dishes than are possible with coal or gas. Cereals, for instance, which require long slow heating and which it is almost impossible to cook properly on a gas stove, are delicious when prepared by the tireless method.
Generally speaking, there are on the market two kinds of fireless cookers - the cookers, so called, and the calorics. In the former the food is always heated over a flame before placing it in the receptacle; in the latter sometimes only the radiators upon which the pans rest are heated. Baking is possible in the calorics but not in the others.
The recipes given in this chapter are arranged for the cooker with radiators; but all of them, with the exception of those for roasting and baking, can be used for any cooker. Where there are no radiators, and where you are cooking things which require a great length of time, it is a good plan to remove the pail from the cooker when the time is half gone and reheat it over the fire. In doing so, as in preparing the dish for the cooker in the first place, the pail must not be uncovered before putting it in the cooker, or steam will escape and the food cool.
The fireless cookers with radiators are by all means the best, and soon pay their own way by the saving of fuel; but where it is not possible to have one of these it is well worth while to have one of the simple cookers, which are less expensive and which can, with a little ingenuity, even be made at home. Procure a strong wooden box, well made, without cracks, and line it thoroughly with pads Silled with hay or excelsior and covered with denim or other thick planned for a Family of Four and closely woven material. Have a closely covered pail, preferably a double pail of aluminum, to fit into the center and several pads of various sizes or a feather pillow to tuck over the top. The lid of the box should fasten down securely with a hasp. If care is taken to have the outside of the kettle clean and not to spill any of the contents, the pads will last for some time without renewing.
With the cooker which has one pail within another, so that the upper one can rest in water, the process of steaming is more perfect than where there is but one pail. It has also advantages where a great deal of cooking is to be done; for soup, for instance, may be cooking in the lower receptacle while vegetable, meat or pudding is in the upper.
Certain precautions, it is true, must be observed by the cook who uses the tireless cooker. In the first place it should not be used for foods which require a rising temperature or those which require evaporation or those which might be injured by condensed steam. Then, too, it must be remembered that a dish left indefinitely in the cooker will sour.