Intro: Cooking... With Your Car
Reusing some waste heat in from your engine bay to cook a meal on your way home.
After I showed this to a few people, I found out that there is a book called "Manifold Destiny" on this very subject. I have not read it yet, but I'm told that there are quite a few recipe's with locations and times (miles).
Step 1: Gather Some Ingredients
This was mostly improvised... But on my menu:
+Baked Chicken and Herbs (chicken breast, flour, your choice of herbs - I used mostly basil)
+Italian Chicken (chicken breast marinated in zesty Italian salad dressing cooked with pepper and onion)
+Red and Green Peppers and mushroom Noodles (used noodles from a ramen package, added a little EVOO, and cooked in vegetable stock)
+Baked Potato Pieces (salted with a little cooking oil)
+Baked Apples (sliced in half with a pat of butter and scoop of brown sugar)
Step 2: Prepare
Layout each item on foil sheets large enough to wrap.
The chicken breasts will be cooked in rectangular like packets to expose as much surface as possible. We want a cup like shape for the noodles/veggies.
Step 3: Sealing
Everything should be wrapped in a few layers of foil. Not so much to protect the food from anything, but really to protect the car from spillage.
The noodles require a little extra care. As we're adding fluid (veggie stock), we need to make out 'cup' with a sealable opening. However you feel is best is the way to go here ;)
On the note of toxic gasses (I'm asked this all the time)
If your car is emitting gasses (say exhaust or coolant steam) from under the hood, you have a problem and you should probably have that looked at. A maintained car does not do this which is why I'm not concerned with doing this.
Step 4: Placement
Placing your food is very important... As every car and engine configuration is different, you'll need to use some common sense...
Potato and Chicken will require the most heat so they should be placed on or near the exhaust manifold. Apples should be placed near something hot (I put it on the top radiator hose). The noodles can be placed on top of the valve cover (if possible) as they can take lower heat for longer times and still cook properly.
Step 5: Cook Time
I was driving 200 miles, so I had to plan accordingly. I drove 100 miles (speed was around 70-80mph) and nearly overcooked the chicken. But at that rest stop I had 1 chicken breast and it was delicious. When I came to a stop, the smell of the chicken and herbs surrounded the car. And at the horror of onlookers, I proceeded to eat from my engine bay.
After the 100 miles, the chicken was well browned -- I think 60 miles would have done the trick.
At this time, the noodles were done, and were moved to a slightly cooler area. The potato package was still raw as I had placed it in an area too cool to cook properly.
Step 6: Other Suggestions
Shrimp is VERY easy to cook and gives of a wonderful aroma. Only 20-30 miles on surface roads is needed -- but modify for extended periods stuck in traffic.
On my next long trip, I'd live to make a rack to support a pork roast or even a rack of ribs to cook slowly.
This type of cooking requires some practice and experimentation. But what's better than pulling up to a gas station and pulling out some chicken wings from under the hood while you fuel up?
Drinks! The striker plate (the part that holds the door closed) on most cars is a great glass bottle opener should you find yourself in the middle of nowhere with a coke and no bottle opener ;) Just look inside the door frame for something that resembles a bottle opener.
BTW, this is a '97 Mazda 626 -- equipped with bottle opener and oscillating vents (for some goofy reason) :P