The way a thermal cooker works is by using thermal mass to slowly cook food that has already been brought to a boil. A thermal cooker is essential two pots: one is a thick bottom pot that holds the food and is placed on the fuel source such as a camp stove. The food is brought to a boil and then placed into the second pot, essentially a large Thermos. The food continues to cook for a few hours, providing a hot meal without having to cook something on the spot.
Last weekend, I tested a thermal cooker by Cook's Essentials. This was the smallest thermal cooker I could find and one I thought would fit in the teardrop trailer easily. I tested it in my home kitchen with a vegetable curry similar to Phil and Vanessa's road-worthy recipe. In the top pot provided with the Cook's Essentials system, I placed some rice and beans we already had on hand.
I brought the vegetables (sweet potatoes, potatoes, onions, carrots, garlic), red curry paste, coconut milk and some Bragg's Liquid Aminos to a boil in the inner pot on the stove. I placed the pot into the thermal cooker and went for a three hour hike in the hills. When I got back...success! I had a tender, vegetable curry that was still hot. The top pan with the rice was less warm, but all the food was cooked and retained heat for quite a while.
I have yet to test this on the road. I would need to find a space in our trailer where the pot won't topple over and spill the liquid. While in camp, the pot will fit nicely in our galley until we return for a hot meal.
I'm now on the lookout for a few good recipes...