Being the dad in the family means that I have certain responsibilities to uphold, such as being able to do things with cars. I’m not really a fan of “wrenching” per se but I do like to cook. I re-read Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine! the other day and it hit me – BLAM! I could be the cool dad and cook with my vehicle. How awesome is that? ….
I wouldn’t recommend doing this everyday, but in a pinch this method of cooking works and it works really well. I am sure you are wondering why would you use your engine to cook food, right? Great question.
I actually used this method to cook potatoes and vegetables years ago. The meal was so yummy my wife and I have cooked using the heat from our 1999 ford expedition several more times after too.
Here are a few reasons I think cooking like this is so convenient and genius in a survival situation
If you live in a city and especially in an apartment or urban setting you may not have a fire pit, wood or even a way to light a fire to cook your food. If you find yourself stuck in a traffic jam for hrs and hrs with no where to go. My favorite is this: When travelling for hours like I do, use the heat that your car makes to cook a nice snack or meal when you arrive at your destination.
How to cook using your car engine
Remember this way of cooking is not widely used and therefore it’s not an exact science. You may have to test out a few recipes and see how long it takes for your particular car to cook it.
Believe it or not there are 2 ways of cooking using your car engine. First is quick cooking using the manifold pipes when your engine is really hot and secondly and my favorite is “slow cooking” while driving hundreds of miles.
1. You will need quality foil for this. I use Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil, it is heavy duty and is very durable. You wouldn’t want the cheaper variety to tear or get a hole in it and let nasty engine smells and oil into and on your food. When I did this I placed 3 even sheets of foil and was very generous when with it.
2. Use oil or butter to grease the foil, not necessary in an emergency but it helps the food not to stick and burn to the foil.
3. Add your food to the middle of the foil and be careful not to over fill with food as you need enough foil to crimp and seal all the steam inside.
4. place the foil parcel in the best location you found in your engine compartment. Remember to secure using wire, you wouldn’t want your nicely packaged food parcel to fall and get stuck in your fan or even worse it falls and effects your acceleration or braking system.
What can you cook?
I can only state what I have cooked but I am sure there are many other recipes and food items you could try and cook successfully.
Potato “Prepper” Breakfast <- get that?
- 2 potatoes chopped into squares
- 1 pepper
- Chopped bacon (optional)
- Salt & pepper (for taste)
Cheese (mozzarella or cheddar works)
Chop the potatoes into small squares (they cook faster this way) chop a pepper into squares and add a little butter, add bacon and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Be sure to have plenty of foil around the food and bring all sides up to form a bag looking parcel. Crimp all sides tightly (this is why you need to be generous with the foil) so that nothing can escape or any juices seep out.
Place the aluminium foil food pouch in the spot where you feel comfortable and cook for around 60 mins.
Some car cooking no – nos
- Don’t block any airflow pipes or exhausts.
- Don’t place your food parcel into the engine with it on.
- Steer clear of the accelerator and brake wires / linkage
- Try not to use foods with a lot of liquids, this could cause to much steam to be produced and could erupt from your foil and cause damage to your engine.
- Most important: NEVER EVER let the food interfere with the engine’s moving parts.
Here is a great video that shows you how “Gadget Guy” cooks on his engine.
Also another great book I would recommend is Camping Recipes: Foil Packet Cooking
it has over 100 foil packet recipes that could work for you. I like to consider myself a manly man so I read a lot of articles on the subject. Here is a link to an article with more aluminium recipes. 9 Easy and Delicious Foil Packet Recipes
Remember, this is a great alternative method of cooking and is so outside the box not many people think of doing it. This may be your only heat source in an emergency and if you have children than need feeding, this could help your kids or elderly family members have nice warm food when otherwise they would go with out.