Mar 282014

by Avis Licht  – The Wonderbag and wine and flowers, ready for dinner The slow cooker Wonderbag is a wonderful find. Originally invented by founder Sarah Collins in South Africa with the intention of conserving cooking energy in developing nations, this cordless, power-free, gas-free slow cooker might just change the way we slow-cook forever. For every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in need in Africa. Families in developing countries who use Wonderbags save up to 30% of their income otherwise spent on fuel for wood stoves.

Here is an opportunity to reduce your energy use, help women and children in poor countries, cook healthy meals in very little time and a side benefit for me – no burnt pots!

This is my super simple recipe for chicken soup with fresh herbs.  You can buy this amazing Wonderbag from my store. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Here is the series of photos of the making of the soup.  It’s actually cooking on the dining room table in the insulated bag!

Using fresh herbs from the garden

Sage, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, marjoram and parsley are the fresh herbs I used. Plus onion and garlic. Plus a little salt.

Chopped Herbs

Chop the fresh herbs and place in the pot with the broth.


Any kind of mushrooms can be used. In the slow cooker they don’t get too soft.

Onions and garlic

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil or coconut oil. The smell is divine and gives a better flavor to the soup than used raw.

Add clied carrots to the saute.  rich in color and flavor
Add sliced carrots to the saute. rich in color and flavor


The chicken has been sauteed and then the broth added.

The chicken has been sauteed for about 5 minutes and then the broth added.

Pot with lid

Bring soup to a boil then simmer 5 to 10 minutes. Put a close fitting lid on the pot and put into the bag.

Close it up tight

Close it up tight and leave for 5 – 9 hours. Don’t open and peek or you will let the heat out.

Open the top and check the soup. It's cooked and absolutely delicious.  Slow cooking   keeps the flavor.

Open the top and check the soup. It’s cooked and absolutely delicious. Slow cooking keeps the flavor.

A bottle of wine, some flowers, and fresh hot rolls, and you've got yourself a lovely dinner.

A bottle of wine, some flowers, and fresh hot rolls, and you’ve got yourself a lovely dinner.

Sep 262011

All plants do not require the same care.  This may seem like an obvious statement, but really how much do you know about what your plants really need?

Salvia is a sage

Hot Lips Salvia requires little water and poor soil

Many herbs that we commonly grow and use are from the Mediterranean area.  They need lots of sun and low rainfall and well drained, rocky soil.  Lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage: these plants do not want rich, high nitrogen soil or plenty of water.  You can literally kill your plant with kindness. Misplaced love, I call it.

The flavor and fragrance of these plants depend on their tough conditions, which favor the essential oils that give the plants their strength.

When you’re standing there with the hose in your hand waiting to give your plant love, think twice and check the soil moisture first.  

Many California native plants live in dry, hot conditions.They  don’t need too much water or rich soil.

Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn"

California Manzanita shrub (click to enlarge)

There is virtually no rain for at least six months of the year. Plants like the Manzanita in the picture on the right, do not need or want too much water.  Don’t treat them like your English perennials.

When you are grouping your plants in the garden, be sure to put plants that have similar water needs together on one station. Try not to mix up plants with very different requirements.  The same goes for soil, sun and light requirements.

Even in an Edible Landscape, your food producing plants will have different needs. Be sure to investigate your plant’s needs before putting them in the ground.

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