Fireless Cookers – recipe books

Here is a list and links to a number of books written in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s on Fireless cooking.  They contain some great info on the method from recipes to how to make them and how to use some that were being sold at that time. These Fireless Recipe books are directly applicable for use as recipes in a thermal cooker, wonder box, wonder oven, hot box, hay box, or other retained heat cooking methods. The following are available to read and download online but are also available in reprinted books for purchase or to download on your Kindle.

The Fireless Cooker ( 1908 )–_The_fireless_cooker

Book of Caloric fireless cook stove recipes; a compilation of more than three hundred superior recipes of all kinds, meats, game, poultry, fish, cereals, vegetables … etc., especially adapted to the new Caloric fireless cookstove ([c1908])

The Fireless Cook Book : A Manual of the Construction and Use of Appliances for Cooking by Retained Heat : with 250 recipes (1913, c1909) by Margaret J. Mitchell

The Duplex cook book, containing full instructions for cooking with the Duplex fireless stove ([191-?])


Dream-Pot has added a number of recipes to their site

Haybox how to and description

Haybox how to and description


Haybox cooking (also called retained-heat cooking) is an age-old method that can be used to conserve energy not only during times of crisis, but anytime. Depending on the food item and amount cooked, the use of a haybox or insulated cooker saves between 20% and 80% of the energy normally needed to cook a food. The longer an item usually takes on a stovetop, the more fuel is saved. For example, with a haybox, five pots of long-cooking dry beans will use the same amount of fuel to cook to completion as just one pot cooked without a haybox.

The principle of retained-heat cooking is simple. In conventional cooking, any heat applied to the pot after it reaches boiling temperature is merely replacing heat lost to the air by the pot. In haybox cooking, food is brought to a boil, simmered for a few minutes depending on the particle size (5 minutes for rice or other grains, 15 minutes for large dry beans or whole potatoes), then put into the haybox to continue cooking. Since the insulated cooker prevents most of the heat in the food from escaping into the environment, no additional energy is needed to complete the cooking process. The hayboxed food normally cooks within one to two times the normal stovetop cooking time. It can be left in the haybox until ready to serve, and stays hot for hours. “Timing” is much less important than in stovetop cooking: stick a pot of rice, beans, or stew in at lunch time, and it will be ready when you are, and steaming hot, at dinner time.

The haybox itself is any kind of insulated container that can withstand cooking temperatures and fits relatively snugly around the pot. Hayboxes have been made using hay, straw, wool, feathers, cotton, rice hulls, cardboard, aluminum foil, newspaper, fiberglass, fur, rigid foam, and/or other suitable materials as insulation. The insulation is placed between the rigid walls of a box, within a double bag of material, or lining a hole in the ground. “Instant hayboxes” have been created by wrapping a sleeping bag, blankets, and/or pillows around a pot. The most effective insulating materials create many separate pockets of air, which slow down the movement of heat. 2 to 4 inches of thickness (depending on the material) are necessary for good insulation. Some materials, such as aluminum foil or mylar, actually reflect heat back toward the pot. Important characteristics of any insulating material incorporated into a haybox include:

  • It must withstand cooking temperatures (up to 212 degrees F or 100 degrees C) without melting.
  • It does not release toxic fumes (any kind of foam insulation needs to be covered with aluminum foil or mylar) or dangerous fibers (fiberglass also needs to be covered).
  • It can be fashioned to be as snug-fitting as possible around the pot. A little pot in a big box will not cook as effectively; it’s better to wrap pillows, towels, or blankets around it to fill up the space.
  • It can be made to form a relatively tight seal, so that heat does not escape from the cooking cavity. Since hot air rises, a container designed to open at the base rather than the top will retain more heat.
  • It is dry, and can be kept dry, since wet materials don’t insulate as well. An inner layer of aluminum foil or mylar helps keep cooking moisture from entering the walls of the box. Mylar, which can be salvaged from used food storage containers, balloons, etc., tends to be a more durable inner layer than aluminum foil.

Cooking containers, too, should have tight-fitting lids, to prevent the escape of heat and moisture.

Since water is not lost in haybox cooking the way it is during extended stovetop simmering, the amount of water used to cook grains and beans is normally reduced by one-quarter. Instead of adding 2 cups of water per cup of dry rice, try adding 1 1/2. Also, the larger the amount cooked, the more effective haybox cooking is, since a full pot has more mass and therefore more heat storage capacity than a half-full pot. Haybox cooking is ideally suited for a family or large group, or anytime there’s a reason to cook in quantity. If you’re cooking alone, try cooking full pots of food using a haybox, then reheating small portions for individual meals–this too can conserve fuel.

Retained-heat cooking has many other advantages in addition to energy and water conservation. As mentioned, it makes “timing” less critical, since it keeps meals hot until serving time. Once the initial boil-and-short-simmer stage is past, it also eliminates the danger of burning the food on the bottom of the pot (the sad fate of too many pots of grains, beans, or other foods left simmering too long without stirring on the stove). Hayboxed food can actually be better for you, and tastier, than food prepared exclusively on a stovetop, because most of the cooking takes place in the 180 degrees F to 212 degrees F range, rather than at a constant 212 degrees F (lower temperatures preserve more flavor and nutrients, as they also do in crockpot cooking and solar cooking).

If you want to prepare multiple items for a meal but have only a limited number of flame sources, hayboxes can also greatly facilitate the logistics of food preparation. For example, you can bring your beans to a boil, simmer them 15 minutes, put them in a haybox; then bring your rice to a boil, simmer it 5 minutes, put it in another haybox; then prepare your vegetable stir-fry or soup, etc. At the end, you’ll have a uniformly hot, unburnt, multi-dish meal, all off a single flame, probably consuming less total fuel than you would have used simply to cook the longest-cooking item alone without a haybox. You’ll also have used one-quarter less of your drinkable water supply in preparing the food.

Presoaking and draining beans always makes them easier to cook, as well as to digest. A few particularly long-cooking foods, such as garbanzo beans, may need reboiling part-way through the cooking process. For health reasons, meat dishes should always be reboiled before serving.

Hayboxes are second only to solar cookers (which, however, are dependent on sunshine) in their potential to conserve resources. They’re easy to build, easy to use, and have many other advantages. Y2K or no Y2K, they deserve a place in every home.

instructables – haybox cooker

Haybox or retained heat cooking is simply cooking a liquid based food like a soup or stew in it’s own heat. During WWII cooking oil was rationed for the war effort this method became popular as a way to conserve cooking fuel. They used hay in a box because the air spaces in the hay trapped in heat and allowed the soup or stew to cook in it’s own heat. Anything like hay, shredded news paper, rice hulls, cotton balls, corn husks etc will work as long as it packs loose and creates air spaces.





Babies – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 2, 11, 14, 15

Bobotie – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –    1, 6

Boiled egg – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –       4

Bread – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –   8, 12

Carrot jam – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 8

Christmas – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -9

Christmas pudding  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9

Cooking whole soya beans – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -10

Cultivation – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -2, 11, 15

Curry – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -5, 7, 12

Doughnuts – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -7 – 8

Dried Fruit – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 9

Facts about soya beans – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 11

Fasoulia – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  13

Fish – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 12,14

Fresh soya beans – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -14

Ham – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 6

Jam  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  – – -8

Joints – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -6

Macaroni – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4

Mieliemeel – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 1,4,12,15

Noodles – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4

Nutty soya snacks – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 13

Oxtail – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  6

Porridge – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -1, 3, 4

Poultry – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -6

Pulp – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 15

Rice – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4

Soup – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 1, 5, 6

Soya beans – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  1, 2, 6, 8, 16, 20

Soya milk – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -2, 10, 11, 14, 15

Soya vetkoekies – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 12

Spaghetti – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 4

Stew – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -5

Tea – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -7

Tongue – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -6

Turkey – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – 12

Vegetables – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  4, 5, 9, 15

Warm drink – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  7, 13


1.  Introduction                                    10.  Soya Beans

2.  Instructions                                     10.  Soya Milk

3.  Recipes                                          13.  Popular Soya recipes

4.  Basic Foods                                   13.  Soya nuts

5.  Meat Dishes                                   13.  A warm drink

6.  Soups & Curry                               14.  Soya for Babies

7.  Tea Time                                        15.  Soya Bean Cultivation

8.  Festive fare                                    17.  Compassion Wonder Boxes

The recipes in this booklet have been chosen for their simplicity high food value, low cost and popularity.  They are basic and should be adapted to individual requirements.

It can be used with a container or without to keep things hot or cold.

This booklet was published by Compassion of South Africa in 1978, 1979 & 1980.

This information may be freely quoted, acknowledgements being made to Compassion.


Wonder Boxes work like vacuum flasks and are similar to the old-fashioned Hay Box.  Such things are often used only to keep cooked food or liquid hot and this does not improve their flavor.  If food is actually cooked in a Wonder Box it is a different matter.  The slow cooking can produce even better results than normal methods of cooking.

Most people find it hard to believe that food can cook so well without fuel and at temperatures below boiling.  It helps to understand how this can happen if we remember that boiling point is several degrees lower at higher altitudes due to the thinner air.  Wonder cooking is therefore similar to stewing or boiling food at the top of a mountain.

Hay Box cooking was encouraged by governments of several European countries during the last two World Wars in order to save fuel.  Many people remember how their porridge oats, the kind that needed long, slow cooking, used to be left all night in a wooden box lined with hay.  The Wonder Box uses polystyrene, a more efficient insulator than hay, to retain the heat.  This enables it to be more compact and its cushions can be washed when necessary.

We find that many foods take only a little longer than usual to cook in a Wonder Box but it can be a great advantage to be able to leave the food keeping hot until you want it, without its spoiling.

The information about the Wonder Bean, as Soya beans are sometimes called, has been included partly because these beans in their natural or dried state do not seem to be appreciated by people in the Western world.  This is probably because of the long slow cooking they need which the Wonder Box can now provide.

Soya beans, combined with a Wonder Box, provide perhaps the very best way for destitute people not only to survive but also to keep healthy.  And they can be a boon to people with stomach or heart disorders, diabetes or allergies caused by cows’ milk.

In these days when we are being warned of world wide shortages of food and fuel, we wonder how the sheer simplicity of this very old method of cooking and the simple methods of processing the centuries-old Wonder bean’ could be so overlooked.


Other benefits from Soya beans are being discovered every year as more and more land is given over to them.  But for the poor the knowledge and means to grow the beans themselves and use them in the simple ways described here, may well be the greatest benefit of all.


Boil your food on the stove first for a few minutes until the food is heated right through.  Use any cooking pot, provided it has no long handle, but do not use a large pot for a small amount of food as the Wonder Box does not work well if there is a large air space.

Put the lid on the pot before you remove the pot from the stove so the lid can also get hot.  Make sure the nest in the bottom cushion is ready to take the pot and that it is near by so you do not loose heat carrying the pot around.

Quickly cover the pot with the top cushion, making sure there are no gaps.  Leave the top cushion puffed up, (the cardboard box lid is not necessary).

Now make sure that nobody peeps inside to see what’s happening.  If they do, heat will escape.  Tapes across the corners of the top cushion help to prevent this.

Do not leave your Wonder Box on a metal surface while it is being used.  Metal is too good a conductor of heat and may draw off some heat through the bottom.

When cooking with a Wonder Box, remember that the more food or liquid that you have in a pot, the longer and better it will cook.

When cooking anything like a whole chicken, the liquid around it can boil before the chicken has reached the same temperature.  So make sure the liquid covers it and boil it for 15 minutes or more before putting it in the Wonder Box.

The nest in your Wonder Box can be lined with a dish towel, aluminum foil or paper to protect the cushions.


The cushions filled with polystyrene can be washed with hot water and soap and hung on the line to dry.  If the weather turns damp, do not leave the cushions to get moldy.  Rather continue using the Wonder Box.  The hot pot can help to dry them.

Our recipes have been worked out at sea level.  At higher altitudes, it may be necessary to leave foods boiling a little longer because of the lower boiling temperature, though it is more effective to boil up a second time.  Leaving food in a Wonder Box longer than four hours will not help to cook it more.

A Wonder Box can be used for keeping yeast or yogurt warm for setting, for keeping washing water hot or frozen foods cold.

Never replace a pot of half-eaten or luke-warm food in the Wonder Box.  It should be boiled up again first to prevent it going bad.


The recipes in this section can, if you wish, be cooked without a stove using only a kettle, a plastic or other container and a Wonder Box.


2 cups quick oats

4 cups boiling water

salt to taste

Stir the oats into the boiling, salted water.  Put the lid or a plate on the pot and tuck the pot quickly between the cushions of your Wonder Box for 15 minutes or more.  Stir before serving.  It will be just right to eat before rushing off to work or school.

For extra creamy porridge, boil up a full pot before going to bed.  Add extra water.  Leave in the Wonder Box all night.  For small amounts, use a double boiler or a bowl that fits inside a pot containing boiling water.



2 cups white or 2 cups of brown rice

3 ½ cups water for white rice or 4 cups water for brown rice

salt to taste (if desired)

Put the rice (brown rice is more nutritious) into cold water in pot.  Use a small pot for a small amount of rice.  Bring water & rice to a good boil.  Transfer pot to Wonder Box.  Leave the rice cooking in the Wonder Box for 40 minutes (more for brown rice) or until you want to eat it.

With rice and other foods, you may need less water than is shown in directions and recipes because the water does not evaporate away.


To boil one egg, pour boiling water over it to cover it.  Put it in the Wonder Box for 5 minutes or longer if you like it hard.

To boil two eggs you will need twice as much boiling water and for three eggs, three times as much to get the same results.


Put them in a pot with plenty of boiling water and a spoonful of salt.  Put the pot in the Wonder Box for 15 minutes, not longer, unless you want to make a milk pudding of them.



Cook in the same way as porridge oats, (above) but use about 4 cups of water to each cup of Mieliemeel.  (miemiemeel is ground maize)


Potatoes, or root vegetables may be cooked in their skins.  Merely bring them to the boil in a pot full of water and transfer them to the Wonder Box for about twice as long as you would normally cook them.  They may be left all day without over cooking and can be more easily peeled after cooking.



For waterless cooking of vegetables or fruit, cut them up and put them into ordinary plastic bags (the crisp kind).  Submerge the bags in water in a pot and boil until the fruit or vegetables have also reached boiling point.  The length of time needed will vary with different vegetables, carrots being rather slow.  The bag should be left open protruding out under the lid.


How to cook stew, curry or soup in a Wonder Box.


Meat (cut in pieces)


Fat for frying

A little flour

Seasoning (curry powder for curry)


Soaked beans, lentils or peas

Vegetables – any kind, washed and cut up

Water to cover (add more for soup)


Make a “nest” in your Wonder Box and line it with plastic if you wish.

Place the boiling pot in the nest.

Cover immediately with cushion.

Make sure there are no gaps where heat can escape.

N.B. Food cooks best if the pot is full.

It continues to cook for 2-3 hours in only its own retained heat, so long as you do not remove the top cushion to look at it!




When cooking oxtail or meat that needs long slow cooking, the meat should be covered in liquid and boiled for 20-50 minutes, according to the size of the piece(s).  A large full pot that takes a long time to reach boiling point will need less time actually boiling.

Place it in the Wonder Box.  After 2-4 hours add any vegetables and herbs you may wish and bring it once more to a boil.  Check that a second period of cooking in the Wonder Box is necessary as ordinary joints will not need this.

Chicken and joints can be boiled in ordinary plastic bags immersed in water so they cook in their own juices.  The bag should have its open end protruding under the lid of the pot.  The meat can be browned under a grill or over a flame before serving.

Soya pulp (see page 11) or mashed whole Soya Beans (see page 10) make a good base for stuffing for birds or for dumplings for soups and stews.  Mix at least one tablespoon of flour with a cup of Soya and add herbs, onions, salt and pepper to taste.  By using Soya in this way, the protein content of a meal can be greatly increased at very little cost.  Soya takes on the flavor of whatever it is mixed with.



Follow the instructions for meat stews, leaving out the meat and the frying if you wish, and using smaller quantities with more water.  A bouillon cube or tomato puree may be added.


3 cups mashed cooked Soya beans

1 cup brown breadcrumbs

1 cup diced onion

1 cup milk with and an egg beaten together

1 spoonful oil

1 spoonful curry powder

1 teaspoon salt and sugar (each)

…Bobotie continued on next page


Fry the onion and curry powder in the oil.  Add all the other ingredients except half the cup of milk and egg and mix well.  Heat it all up while stirring.  Transfer it to a smaller bowl and pour the remainder of the milk on top.    Put a lid or plate on the bowl and stand it in a larger pot of boiling water until the egg and milk on top sets.


4 cups ready-cooked mashed Soya beans and/or meat

3 cups water or stock

2 onions diced                      1 spoonful flour

1 spoonfull oil                                    1 spoonful curry powder

1 beef cube                          salt to taste

Add any of the following:

half an apple, diced

a sliced banana

a tablespoon of sultanas (raisins) or currants

a teaspoon of sugar

a spoonful of chutney or jam

a spoonful of lemon juice or vinegar

Fry the onions in a little oil.  Add flour and curry powder.  Then slowly add water to make a sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to boil again.  Place in Wonder Box for several hours or until needed.  Serve over rice.


1 cup Soya pulp (see page 11)

2 cups self raising flour (or brown flour & 1 teaspoon yeast)

1 cup cold water

1 teaspoon salt (and 1 teaspoon vanilla if you like)

1 teaspoon sugar (or a little more if you like)

…continued on next page.


Mix all ingredients, place in an oiled plastic bag and let rise in the Wonder Box until almost doubled.  Heat about 1 liter of oil and test the heat of the oil by dropping a small piece of the dough in to see if it rises quickly to the surface.  Spoon out rounded dessert spoonfuls of dough into the oil and fry until golden brown on both sides.  Roll in sugar while warm.


4 cups whole wheat, brown or white flour, or mixed as you wish

1 teaspoon each yeast and sugar mixed, added to ¼ cup warm water

1 cup warm water with 1 teaspoon salt added

Mix and knead the dough (or add another ¼ cup warm water and merely stir it well).  Roll the dough in dry flour and place it in an ordinary (crisp cereal) plastic bag which has had a little oil rubbed around inside.  To reduce time needed for this it can be left submerged in warm water in the Wonder Box.  When it has doubled its size, it should be brought to boil in the water and boiled for about 10 minutes.  Transfer the bread in the pot of water to a Wonder Box for an hour to finish cooking when it should have a soft “crust”.


Using a little water as possible, cut up and bring the fruit to the boil in your pot and put the pot in the Wonder Box until it is cooked.  Pour the fruit into a larger pot and add an equal volume of sugar.  Boil them together until the jam is ready to set.  Test for this in the normal way.


Carrots can be used instead of fruit to make a mock apricot jam.  They should first be cut up and cooked soft with a little water.  Then mash them.  Add an equal volume of sugar and some lemon juice to taste and cook as above.


FESTIVE FARE – at very little cost.


This is inexpensive, nutritious, quick, easy to make and delicious.

2 cups brown sugar

2 cups mixed dried fruits – washed

2 cups mashed whole cooked Soya beans (se page 10)

Heat the above together in a pot adding them in the order given above.  The sugar should melt before the Soya and bread is added.  Press the mixture into a suitable bowl and leave in the Wonder Box to keep hot and to enable it to be turned out in a pudding shape.  Or it can be eaten immediately.


Use the same mixture as for the Christmas pudding, but leave out the breadcrumbs.  Heat as above.  Use for mince pies and tarts.


Use the mincemeat mixture as above and add two cups brown flour.  This may be stirred into the hot mixture to reduce the cooking time needed.  The mixture should be spread into a baking tin which has been well greased and floured to prevent sticking.  Bake in a slow oven for an hour or more.

All the above recipes can be varied to taste by adding lemon juice, spices and dates to replace half the sugar or extra dried fruit.


Using home-made dried fruit in your Christmas cake could make it cost as little as a loaf of bread.

Cut into small cubes a mixture of any of the following:

lemon peel               watermelon rind                  orange peel

prickly pear               pumpkin                                marrow

carrot                         similar fruits or vegetables

Add water, rather less than needed to cover them.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Put into the Wonder Box for them to cook soft.  Add an equal volume of sugar and bring to boiling once more.  Leave in the Wonder Box overnight.  Next day, pour off the syrup and use this for jam or cool drinks.  The remaining peel etc. should be left to dry with fresh sugar sprinkled over it.

Continued… on next page


N.B. Fruit cakes, etc. can be steamed in tins in ordinary plastic bags standing in boiling water in a pot.  They should be boiled for at least 20 minutes before transferring in the pot to a Wonder Box for further cooking.

Carrot cake or pudding can be made using the same basic recipe as the Christmas cake but substituting grated carrots and 2 teaspoons cinnamon for the dried fruit.  It can be boiled in a plastic bag like the bread above a lighter cake can be made by adding baking powder and using Soya pulp instead of mashed whole Soya beans.


Dried Soya beans are small, hard and normally need hours of cooking to get them soft.  So they are less popular than other beans even though they are cheaper.  In fact their hardness protects them from mice, weevils and even atomic radiation.  They provide us with all that our body needs and can easily be processed and used in making all our basic foods.  There is no vitamin C in the dried bean but even this can be obtained by sprouting them.

We have experimented with information from overseas on soaking and cooking Soya beans and have adapted the methods to the Wonder Box which saves 75 percent of the fuel needed for cooking.  We recommend the following:


Sort, wash the beans vigorously until the water is not sudsy and add them to at least twice their volume of boiling water to which you have added Baking Soda (1 level teaspoonful to a liter of water).  Bring it to boil.  Boil for a minute while you heat the lid for the pot.  Place in the Wonder Box and leave for 48 hours or more.

If you do not use Baking Soda, soak the beans in boiling water which inactivates enzymes which can produce an unpleasant taste if the beans become bruised.  Always throw away the soaking water.  Then boil the beans twice over followed by two or three hours in the Wonder Box after each boiling.

Both the above methods, which should leave the beans soft enough to mash, will inactivate a substance in the bean which works against the protein digesting enzyme trypsin, thus making all the protein in the bean available as food.



It is important for mothers with large families or with children that are allergic to cows’ milk to know how to make Soya milk.  To spread this knowledge ‘Compassion’ is undertaking demonstrations in hospitals, at churches and wherever people are gathered together who want to know more about it.

The method for making the milk, based on the Chinese method, is as follows;

1.         Sort, wash and soak 1 cup of Soya beans in plenty of water overnight.

2.         Mince, or grind the beans one cup at a time in a blender with 4 cups of


3.         Boil 2 cups water in a deep pot and add the minced beans.

Bring back to boiling.  Stir and be careful it does not boil over and put

in the Wonder Box for 30 minutes.

4.         Strain through a clean cloth and squeeze to remove all milk.

Add a little salt and sugar if desired.


To make amasi:  This makes a good medicine and food for babies with running stomachs.  Add a teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar to a cupful of Soya milk and leave to stand.  Yogurt can be made in the same way using a teaspoonful of yogurt instead of lemon, but leave this in a warm place to set – such as a Wonder Box.


From the ‘Wonder Food’ by C.E. Clinkard.  In China there is practically no animal milk.  Whereas only 7 lbs. of beef protein or 39 lbs. of egg protein, can be produced from one acre, 339 lbs of Soya bean protein can be produced from the same area.  Its cultivation has been going on for about 5,000 years.  Two and a half lbs of Soya bean flour is equivalent to 5 ¼ lbs of lean boneless meat or 67 eggs or 13 quarts of cow’s milk.




1 cup Soya pulp (or mashed soft-cooked Soya beans)

1 spoonful of flour (or flour and breadcrumbs)

For variations, add any of the following:

tomato           herbs              sugar              grated potatoes

spice              curry               cheese          chopped onion

Mix and drop into hot oil to fry


2 cups Soya pulp                 2 (or more) cups miemiemeel

2 teaspoons sugar               1 teaspoon salt

Stir all together to make a mixture like damp sand.  Spoon it into a plastic bag which has had oil rubbed around the inside.  Squeeze it in the plastic into a loaf shape.  Immerse it in a pot of water with the open end of the bag protruding out under the lid.  Boil for at least 10 minutes and leave in the Wonder Box for about an hour.


Mince whole soft-cooked Soya beans and flavor them delicately with chicken or beef cubes, salt and pepper.  Add a spoonful of flour and some oil to each cupful of beans.  Boil the mixture in a plastic bag immersed in water for at least 10 minutes followed by a short period in a “Wonder Box.  It should now carve and taste surprisingly like turkey.

Mix some of the above with a little minced fried liver for a delicious live pate for sandwiches.


1 cup Soya pulp                   1 heaped spoon of flour

1 onion                                   2 sprigs parsley

salt and pepper                   oil

Heat the oil in a frying pan.  Chop the onion and parsley and mix with other ingredients.  Shape into fish-cakes with spoons and fry until golden brown on both sides.  These have a delicious taste of fish-cakes although no fish is used.  The taste of onion should not be noticeable.



This is a highly recommended Greek Dish (Haricot beans are usually used for this)

3 cups well cooked Soya beans                          1 bay leaf

half a cup of oil                                                        1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 small can tomato paste                                      juice of 1 lemon

a little water or tomato puree                              2 cloves garlic

Heat the oil in a deep pan and add the beans.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes while you add all the ingredients except the onion.  Cover the pan and place in Wonder Box for 4 hours.  Add the onion rings.  Serve hot or cold.


Mix a spoonful of flour with a teaspoon of salt and sprinkle it over some whole-cooked Soya beans until they are well coated.  Remove the excess flour.  Drop the beans a spoonful at a time into hot deep oil.  Fry until they are light biscuit color, or fry half-cooked beans in hot oil until they are golden brown; allow the oil to drain off.  Sprinkle salt over them and store them in an air tight jar to keep crisp.


Bake unsoaked Soya beans slowly in an oven or iron pot for about 6 hours or until they are dark brown but not burnt.

Grind while hot, if possible.  Store in an airtight container.

To make a warm drink, pour boiling water onto a good spoonful of ground baked beans.  Add a pinch of salt.  Allow to stand or simmer for a few minutes.  The grounds will sink to the bottom.  Keep the drink hot in a Wonder Box.


Young Soya beans only need to be cooked for 10 – 15 minutes.  Children must not be allowed to chew raw green Soya beans – or any raw beans or they will get indigestion.


By our Woman Doctor:  Soya beans are the richest source of vegetable protein, their protein being equal in value to that in meat, milk, fish and eggs.


The milk prepared from Soya beans can be used for feeding under-weight malnourished babies to bring them back to health.  Soya beans also provide a good weaning food which can be made from ground Soya beans or from the residue after making Soya milk.  In some cases Soya milk is even better than cows’ milk.  This is because many malnourished children have a persistent running stomach.  The lining of the bowl in these children has become thin and flat instead of being thick and thrown into folds.  This thin lining does not produce the substance needed to digest the milk sugar, lactose.  Because of this, drinking cows’ milk will make the diarrhea worse.  Soya milk is digested well as it contains no lactose.

Many adults also do not digest cows’ milk well as it causes stomach upsets because of a lack of the substance needed to digest lactose.  Certain races, including Africans, are more prone to this.

Soya beans are used extensively by world health teams in feeding programs for areas where there are many malnourished children.  The milk prepared by the recipe in this book contains a little more protein than cow’s milk and considerable more than breast milk.

Soya milk contains about ¾ of the calcium supplied in breast milk.   (Cows’ milk is very rich in calcium and supplies far more than a baby needs).  Soya milk contains no vitamin D but this vitamin is made in the body by the action of sunlight on the infants’ skin.  Vitamin D is necessary to prevent rickets.  It has a satisfactory content of iron, in fact more than in breast milk; also of the B vitamins (except 12 which is also absent in breast milk).  It is low in vitamin A and vitamin C is absent.

One cannot unreservedly recommend Soya milk for the sole food of infants under 4 months who, in any case, should be on the breast.  But it can be used for emergency or temporary feeding where the alternative is protein deprivation.

Soya can be highly recommended for feeding infants over 4 months especially with regard to its protein content.  These babies can also be given mashed local vegetables and fruit and the occasional egg yolk in addition which supplies the vitamins A and D and also extra calcium.  Mieliemeel mixed with either Soya milk or the pulp which is left after making the milk is an ideal combination as a source of calories and protein.

It is very rare to find a baby allergic to Soya milk but of babies allergic to cows’ milk some authorities have found that ¼ of these will also be allergic to Soya milk.  The other ¾ will thrive on Soya milk.

Commercial dried Soya milk powders are fortified with extra vitamins A and D and a little extra calcium and can be used for infants of all ages.



By our Agriculturalist:  Soya beans (Soybeans) can be grown anywhere in Southern Africa where ordinary green beans can be grown and they require roughly the same conditions.

The soil should be well cultivated to prevent weeds from becoming too big a problem to growing beans.  Make your planting rows about 14 centimeters apart.  This is about the distance from a man’s elbow to tip of thumb.  For a small garden you can make the rows a little close together.  For a large field where tractor or ox-drawn implements are used you can make the rows wider apart.

The seed should be planted a little later than the date on which you would normally plant mielies (corn) so as to be sure that the ground is warm enough to encourage the beans to make a quick start.  If you are not able to irrigate the ground, you must wait for good rains to give your soil plenty of moisture before planting.

Put the beans about 5 centimeters, or a thumb’s length deep and 4 – 5 centimeters apart.

Under good conditions the beans will germinate in 4 to 5 days.  If the soil has been hammered hard by heavy rains at this time, it must be loosened a little so that the beans can push through the soil without being damaged.  Keep the young beans free from weeds for the first month at least to give them the best chance in life.  The beans will be ready to harvest when the plant leaves begin to fall and the stems begin to dry out.

Soya beans have the good quality of attracting certain bacteria which extract the plant food nitrogen from the air.  These bacteria are very small organisms which cannot be seen by the naked eye.  While the beans are growing the bacteria will multiply greatly and will remain a long time in the soil after the beans are finished.  A little soil taken from an old Soya bean plot and dusted into the rows of fresh ground where Soya beans are to be planted will therefore provide a more plentiful supply of the helpful bacteria at the outset and get the bean off to a good start.  The nitrogen fixing partnership between beans and bacteria will mean that your ground will be enriched by a crop of Soya beans.

Wonder Boxes, designed by Compassion in 1978, continue to catch on, to excite people and to be a boon for many households.  They are being made in at least 50 centers in southern Africa:  Women for Peace in Johannesburg, Cripple Care in Pietermaritzburg and Pretoria, Centers of “Concern in port Elizabeth and elsewhere and self-help home industries and missions in rural areas.


Yet still there is a desperate NEED for WONDER BOXES TOGETHER WITH SOYA BEANS.  To meet this need we ask each person who reads this to PROVIDE ONE MORE PERSON WITH A WONDER BOX.

Start a “Wonder-chain”, each person who receives one could buy or make one for someone in need – a pensioner, an unemployed person or an over-burdened working mother.


Make cushions out of large plastic bags, mutton cloth or other washable material and fill them loosely with any of the following”

polystyrene beads                           waste nylon materials

dried corn husks                               flakes of newspaper

woolen materials                             sawdust and wood shavings

feathers                                             hay or other dry grasses

Put the cushions into a container such as a cardboard box and make a nest in it for your cooking pot.  Cover the pot with another cushion.

Polystyrene is about the best insulation material and it is also easily washed.  If you are only able to get the solid pieces which are used for packing radios etc…, you can break it up by grating it.

Compassion registered the name WONDER BOX and the logo of the kneeling figure in the hope that our new and simple ways of using the WONDER (SOYA) BEANS will go with it and be a powerful force for peace at this time.


Where to get insulation beads:

JoAnn’s Fabric Stores


Cut bottom out of milk jug (gallon),         Put 5 scoops of beads for top.

Put 9 scoops of beads for bottom.


Wonder Box Cooker

The Wonder Box Cooker recipes and instructions originated from a booklet published by “Compassion” of South Africa in 1978,1979 and 1980. “Compassion” registered name Wonder Box and the logo of the kneeling figure. This information may be freely quoted, acknowledgments being made to “Compassion”

Wonder Boxes work like vacuum flasks. In these days when we are being warned of worldwide shortages of food and fuel, this wonder box and it’s simplicity is designed to keep food at the temperature needed for cooking.  Using very little fuel you only use about 15 minutes of energy to bring the food to the required temperature and then put it into the Wonder box. It makes it as though it were a thermos.  On the flip side it will also keep ice-cream cold for about 4 hours.

Brief Cooking Instructions:

Boil your food on the stove for 10 – 15 minutes until the food is heated right through. (In practice this is too long.)

Use any cooking pot, provided it does not have a long handle, but do not use a large pot for a small amount of food. The W’box does not work well if there is a large air space. Remember that the more food or liquid that you have in the pot, the longer and better it will cook.

Put the lid on the pot before you remove the pot from the stove so the lid can also get hot. Make sure the nest in the bottom cushion is ready to take the pot and that it is nearby so you do not lose heat carrying the pot around. Place pot into the nest of the W’box, making sure that the sides are snug against the pot, so there are no air pockets. Quickly cover the pot with the top cushion, making sure there are no gaps or air pockets. Make sure that no one peeks inside. If this happens, heat will escape, and the food will not cook properly.

Do not leave the W’box on a metal surface while it is being used. Metal is a good conductor of heat and may draw off some heat through the bottom.

When cooking anything like a roast or a whole chicken, the liquid around it can boil before the meat has reached the same temperature. Make sure the liquid covers the meat and it has come to a boil. Meat must be covered with liquid! The cooking time seems to be 3-4 hours, or all day. It is sure to never burn.

Note: We had a chicken that was put in at 9:30 in the morning before church. This single dad prepared the chicken by placing it into an oven-cooking bag. He added spices to the chicken closed the bag completely (no added moisture was added to the bag) then brought the pot of water with the chicken in, to a boil and put it all in to the W’box. We ate with him at 4:00pm and as he tried to carve the chicken that was well cooked; the steam was ‘rolling’ off the chicken. It was still so hot he worked with forks to carve it. Nb: the opening to the bag was left protruding from under the lid.

The W’box was designed for cooking meals, but it can also be used for keeping food hot, cold or frozen for 3-6 hours depending on what it is For example, frozen meat will stay frozen longer than a tub of ice cream.

The cushions filled with polystyrene can be washed with hot water and soap and hung on the line to dry.

WONDER BOX Sewing Instructions

Click here for a Pattern

Material:  3 Meters (yards are 3″ shorter than a meter) soft cotton or broadcloth so it will conform to the shape of the pot.

(½ can be coordinated  ….   two colors)

19 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails of  Polystyrene beads (it is an insulation that looks like the tiny separate Styrofoam bits that make up the protective packing in electronics, etc.)

“Polystyrene is about the best insulating material and it is also easily washed. If you are only able to get the solid pieces which are used for packing radios etc., you can break it up by grating it.”
the booklet also says “make cushions out of large plastic bags, mutton cloth or other  washable material and fill loosely with any of the following:
Polystyrene, Dried corn husks, Woolen materials, Feathers, Waste nylon materials, Flakes of newspaper, sawdust and wood shavings, Hay or other dry grasses “In Canada we have a gray ‘blow in insulation’ in our attic, it would be impossible to wash without opening the wonder box but it may be added to this list as well.

Sewing instructions:

When you sew the wonder box together you sew 2 of the 4 pieces together along the longest sides. You open each of the pairs now and place them right sides together and sew those 2 together all the way around the outside, making an awkward shaped cushion affair. Don’t forget the opening to fill through. You then repeat with the 4 bottom pieces. One pair together, sew along the longest side, then the other pair. Open them up and place them right sides together, remembering to leave openings to fill through. I am adding a loop at this point to hang this by when not in use, or dry after washing.

The narrow part of the bottom pattern is the piece you will tuck into the bigger part of the bottom to make the pouch/nest for the pot to sit into.

Hoping not to confuse the issue. If you start where the bottom pattern says 90 (degrees for the angle) and sew down the right side of the pattern and stop just after the second 11 ½  ” mark, before the pattern starts back up. That will be one of the two pairs. Do the same with the other two, put right sides together again and sew it all the way around the outside edge now, into the box or ball shape. The same goes for the top cushion, start at the 100, sew down the right and stop just after the 11″ mark. The rights sides together and sew again making the shape of the top cushion.

It will not lie flat. It will take the shape of a square cushion when it is filled with the polystyrene beads, and the bottom cushion has a cavity like a nest or pouch.

Top: Fill a little less than ½ full while the bag is hanging. Approximately 7 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails.

A paper funnel works best, as the beads are very static prone.  You may want to use an ice cream pail to pour from. Work with two people to fill-one to hold the funnel in and the other to pour.  Spread a sheet on floor to catch beads.

Bottom: Cut 4 Fill approximately ½ full with polystyrene beads. Approximately 12 scantly filled 1-gallon ice cream pails

Once this bag is filled, tuck the small end into the center to form the pouch/nest for the pot. Find a good pot that works well in this pouch. No long handles please.

When the pan sits inside the pouch/nest of the bottom, the pan is surrounded on all sides except the top. So… that is where the top/lid comes in. It is very important to keep all of the heat inside this wonder box cooker. One of the pages and the recipes explain that the lid/top of the wonder box must go on immediately with no places for the heat to escape or it will all be for nothing.

Wonder Box Recipes

Yogurt by the Gallon

4 cups dry skim milk powder

4 quarts warm water

Mix well, heat to scald, cool to luke warm


1 cup of starter (plain commercial yogurt) or product saved from this finished recipe may be used to start a new batch. Refresh monthly with commercial starter.

Mix well, put into a gallon glass jar with a lid and place into the Wonder box.

Leave undisturbed for 12-14 hours. It will thicken more after refrigeration.

May be used plain or add your favorite fruits to flavour.

For those that can afford the calories, if the yogurt doesn’t set to your liking, add instant

Vanilla pudding. (substituting yogurt for milk)

Can be reduced for smaller batches.


2 cups quick oats

4 cups boiling water

salt to taste

Stir oats into boiling water, put lid on and  place quickly between cushions of the W’box for 15 minutes or more. Stir before serving


2 cups rice

Put into

3 ½ – 4 cups of salted boiling water. NB. Because the water does not evaporate you may need less water than usual.

Place quickly into W’box, and leave for 40 minutes or longer until ready to eat.


Potatoes or root vegetables may be cooked in their skins. Bring them to a boil in a pot full of water and place quickly between cushions of the W’box for about twice as long as you would normally cook them. They may be left all day without overcooking and can be more easily peeled after cooking

Try waterless cooking by using the crisp kind of bags used for cooking roasts, etc. Submerge the bag into the water and bring to a boil. The bag should be left with opening protruding out from under the lid. Place quickly into W’box.

Chicken and other joints of Meat

Place chicken into an Oven cooking bag with desired spices, and close bag

Bring pot of water with chicken in it, to a good boil.

Quickly place into the W’box and place top cushion on.

Leave alone for at least 3-4 hours.

The chicken was put in at 9:30 in the morning before church. This single dad prepared the chicken by placing it into an oven-cooking bag. He added spices to the chicken closed the bag completely (no added moisture was added to the bag) then  brought the pot of water with the chicken in, to a boil and put it all in to the W’box. We ate with him at 4:00pm. It was impressive.

Try soups, stews, what ever you can bring to a boil and then give it a try. The worst that would happen is the first time, you may have to bring things back to a boil and replace into the W’box for a second cooking time.

I was given other recipes from a group who called this “The Clever Cooker” but they looked just like any other kind of simmered recipe and the consistent instruction was leave for 3-4 hours,

Never replace a pot of half eaten or luke warm food in the W’box It should be boiled up again to prevent it going bad.



A haybox is an insulated container which can make significant fuel savings – up to 70%! Just bring the food to a boil, place the pot inside the haybox, and cover. The haybox will contain the heat in the food so that it will continue cooking without using extra fuel. In terms of our three heat concepts, a haybox works by maximizing heat storage and minimizing heat loss. A haybox is ideal for foods with a high water content like soups, stews, rice, boiled eggs and more. Foods which lose a lot of steam on the stove can be cooked with less water using a haybox.

You can precook the beans and legumes in some recipes, such as chili, in the haybox before adding other ingredients, since some beans must be boiled for at least 10 to 15 minutes to make them safe to eat.


Hayboxes can also be used to raise bread or incubate yogurt or tempeh. Place a container of hot water in the haybox to keep the temperature up.

You can use a cooler as part of a haybox, but you will probably want to add more insulation. You can make a haybox from all sorts of local materials, such as a basket filled with dried grass and covered with a bag or pillowcase of dried grass on top.

Cooking times:

Food: Boil time: Haybox time:
Rice 5 min 1-1.5 hours
Potatoes 5 min 1-2 h
Soup and stock 10 min 2-3 h
Green Lentils 10 min 3-4 h
Pintos 10 min 3 h
Split Peas 10 min 2 h
Quinoa 5 min 1.5 h
Millet 5 min 1 h
Polenta 1 min 1 h
Winter Squash 5 min 1-2 h
Steamed bread 30 min 3 h
Chicken 6 min 2-3 h
Beef 13 min 3-4 h

Haybox Notes:
Aprovecho’s Guide to Hayboxes and Fireless Cooking, by Peter Scott, et al. Aprovecho Research Centre. (Brochure)
Fireless Cooking, by Heidi Kirschner, Madrona Publishers. 1981.

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