I stumbled onto my Thermos thermal cooker and thermal cooking in general while trying to find a good solution for making home made yogurt. I had initially used a plastic container with a foam outer liner to make yogurt but it soon cracked and broke apart. The method worked well however, and I went on the hunt for a more durable alternative. That's when I found the Thermos thermal cooker. Being made from stainless steal and having a vacuum insulated outer container I figured it would last almost forever and today it works as well as the day I bought some five or six years ago.
I have to admit, I was pretty clueless back then on it's other uses. It wasn't until a camping trip where I happened to take it along because I figured I could use the nice stainless steel innerpot to make breakfast and boil water in it and keep the water hot for use during the day. One late evening I used it to heat water for hot chocolate, and after only a couple cups, I left the almost full pot of water outside on the camp table until morning. The next morning I went back to the thermal cooker opened it up and was surprised that the water was still hot enough for making another cup of chocolate and proceeded to do so. My neighbor saw what I was doing and asked if that was the same water from the night before and I confirmed as much. He then saw the great usefulness of the thermal cooker immediately and was excited by what he figured it would do, especially the amount of fuel it would save when cooking off camp stoves and RV's. He wondered if I could find a thermal cooker for him and for a few of his kids for a gift.
That got me going and started me into really looking into the abilities of using a thermal cooker. I scoured the internet looking for information, recipes and anything I could on thermal cookers or the like and created a blog here: http://thermalcooker.wordpress.com/category/thermal-cooking/ on all that I found.
When my neighbor asked me to find a few thermal cookers for him, I found that the Thermos model I bought was no longer being sold, so I started a search for a good replacement. I was surprised when I couldn't find another model from another maker that matched up to the abilities of the Thermos Thermal cooker. I bought a few different brands of thermal cookers because at this point I had a number of other people asking me to get them cookers if I could. I purchased various models to test them out and found that either they didn't perform as well, meaning they didn't keep the contents hot for as long as the Thermos or their manufacture was subpar. Most of the thermal cookers had "tinny" type inner pots that were a very thin steel instead of the heavy gauge stainless steel that my Thermos thermal pot used. I also found that the outer pot of these other brands was made of a foam core material instead of double steel with a vacuum in between construction. Even those that did have a vacuum insulated outer pot, the innerpot was still not well made or they used a glass lid or other easily broken materials. There were some well made thermal cookers but they had a different design I found lacking. The thermal cookers would have two handles attached to the innerpot and they would simply rest on top of the steel outerpot and the lid would close down and try and cover the handles. The problem is, the handles wick the heat out of the inside of the pot and radiate it outside so the food contents doesn't stay hot as long as the Thermos thermal cooker with the bail handle and the innerpot that stays completely enclosed inside the outerpot. The bail handle also locks down the lid preventing it from opening when I take it with me in the car making it very portable. I've had another model without the locking lid spill while traveling in the car.
I finally found a source for the best thermal cooker made and it's available here: http://www.getpreparedstore.com/category/30555882801/1/Thermal-Cookers.htm
A thermal cooker really is a great addition to your kitchen, trailer, RV or camp kitchen. I've found many ways to use it and it's one of those products that just works and works well. There are some tricks to getting the most out of it. You do need to keep it as full as possible, in order to retain enough heat in the cooker to cook things completely but that will very depending on what you trying to cook. Many crock-pot or slow cooker recipes can be adapted to use in a thermal cooker so there are plenty of ready made recipes.