The Occasion - Outdoor Potluck in the Snow with the Jeep Club
Some occasions call for outdoor set-ups complete with propane stoves or crock-pots with extension cords to nearby power sources. But if you are on the move with little equipment you have to be creative. As a new member of a fantastic Jeep club, I was invited to an outdoor event that was being held in a snow-covered field. The event included a potluck meal. As I had never been to this event, I had imagined an outing similar to bonfires in the "back 40" - a field far from a house or civilization.
|Jeeps in a snowy field|
I found the perfect solution. Chili transported in a large thermos. And I kept it warm with that thermos, beach towels, and a five gallon bucket. Does this sound strange? It did to me too but it ended up to be a wonderful way to keep my chili warm.
The Coleman Thermos
|Coleman 1 gallon thermos|
It cleaned up really well. Even after having chili in it for the day, I brought it home and washed with with dish soap and a few drops of bleach. It is as clean as new.
If I go to this even next year, I may choose an even larger version of this thermos and make a double batch of my chili. However, this was the perfect size for one batch of chili.
Keeping it warm - the process
This was an experiment. And my first outdoor adventure with the Club. I was afraid that my first impression would be cold chili served from a five gallon bucket. But not only did the chili remain warm, it was hot and steaming by the time I dished some up for myself. And I waited until near the end of the potluck line.
- cooked my no-recipe chili the night before and refrigerated it
- put it on the stove to warm while I gather things in the morning - heated it to a very low simmer
- ran very hot water in the thermos to warm the inside of the thermos
- poured the chili into the warmed thermos and closed the lid immediately
- wrapped the thermos in aluminum foil -in case of leaks more than as a plan for heat
- wrapped the thermos in two thick towels
- placed the wrapped thermos into the five gallon bucket
The time-line was (very loosely) as follows:
- prepared myself and the food and loaded up around 7:30 am
- drove to the first meeting spot and waited
- convoyed with that group of Jeeps to the next meeting spot and waited briefly
- convoyed with a huge group of gorgeous Jeeps to the event spot
- delivered my chili bucket to the outdoor potluck table and joined the event in the field
- returned to the potluck/bonfire area to eat
All told, my chili had been off the stove and in the thermos for 3 - 4 hours. And nearly all of that time it was left in my Jeep in a parking lot or on a potluck table outside during very cold weather. And as I mentioned, my chili - what was left of it - was still steaming when I dipped some out.
The Process - In Photos
Because it is hard to imagine a thermos, towels, and a bucket in action, I decided to post a few photos.
|Place the hot food in the heated thermos|
|optional aluminum foil - I chose it in case of leaks|
|place a large towel, or two, in a bucket|
|place the thermos into the bucket and fold the towels over the top|
If you need to travel light but have an outdoor, snowy potluck to attend, I hope you aren't intimidated about bringing hot food. With a bit of creativity, having hot food on the trails isn't as difficult as one might think. Happy wheeling to you.