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SGT Rock
2003-12-21, 11:06
Howdy from Baghdad stove fanatics, here is a small update to some stove play.

Over here I currently use an Optimus multi fuel stove because it burns almost anything, so the need for an alcohol stove doesn’t exist. Add to that the huge difficulty I have had in even getting fuel for alcohol stoves and it makes even fiddling with some almost unreasonably hard. But Anti-Gravity gear sent me one of their “Mama’s Kitchen” sets to play with and I felt obligated to eventually get to it and use it. I have been using the set sans stove quite a bit, so I can comment a lot on the entire set. But just recently I was able to get enough denatured alcohol to do some real playing around with the entire set.

To begin with, the Mamma’s Kitchen set comes with a 2L and a 1.5L aluminum non-stick pot set. Both pots have lids and their own pot grabbers, which can be very convenient if you are trying to cook on both pots simultaneously. Each pot also comes with a Reflectex pot cozy that is made to fit exactly around the pot. The kitchen also comes with a pretty much standard soda can alcohol stove and an aluminum windscreen made from roof flashing. The set I was sent also included a cool hunters’ orange bandana that had safety tips printed on both sides that could be use for a multitude of backpacking chores.

The ability when serving a larger group than a solo backpacker necessitates pots larger than my .75L preference, and the Mamma’s Kitchen set hits the mark perfectly. Over the last few months, we have had a tradition in the Troop known as “Spaghetti Night”. We use the 2L pot to cook a package of pasta, and then the smaller pot is used to heat up a can or jar of spaghetti sauce, which may contain ground beef if we get lucky.

Before I continue…

Now most of you that have read my past reviews know that I am a stickler for fuel usage, boil time, etc. But here in Iraq I don’t have my standard equipment like postal scales, multimeter, Thermocouple, ice, etc. So if you are looking for an in depth review of the stove itself to my normal standards, this will not be it.

Back to the story…

Basically the strategy for the Momma’s Kitchen works a little something like this:

Boil the pot with the pasta; this takes about 1 ounce of alcohol for a full 2L pot. One the fuel runs out put the pot into the cozy and let the pasta continue to cozy and let it “simmer” while you heat the sauce.

Use about ¼ ounce of alcohol to warm the sauce. It actually takes doing this a couple of times since the stove is not designed to simmer. An alternative that I added was a simmer cap made by cutting the bottom of a soda can in ½ and putting it over the filler hole after adding ½ ounce alcohol. This makes an efficient and easy to make simmer adapter for the system and could be added by the Anti-Gravity people as a simple little add on to the kit since the point of the package deal seems to be a little bit more fancy cooking for a group of lightweight hikers. Budder (member over at TheBackpacker.com) gave me this idea a while back, and it still works just fine.

The stove and screen do not come with a pot stand; the strategy is to use a pair of tent pegs as rest for the pot on top of the windscreen. For me this was just as big a showstopper as the lack of fuel since I could not find anything over here to uses as a substitute. Luckily Rosaleen, one of my constant advisors, sent me some substitutes to use and I got on with the test eventually. The use of the windscreen and tent pegs is a good strategy that should work for most hikers.

My overall impression with the system is pretty good:

The stove has enough alcohol capacity to cook some larger dishes, yet still is the standard, durable, well-built soda can design that is a common standard.

The stand/windscreen works well and uses tent pegs to make it multi functional gear in a way.

Both pots are light, easy to clean, and good sizes for use. I would recommend only using one pot holder to save weight, or maybe even getting used to using a bandanna as a pot holder and leaving them both behind if you can hack it.

The pot cozies work, but they don’t seem to be as efficient as other materials I have used. It may be just my perception and it is something I will have to verify later when I have the opportunity.

The bandanna is a pretty neat idea. If you carry one anyway, then having one that can be used as a safety device in hunting season and includes printed survival and safety tips in case you need them is a great idea.

Overall this is a system I can recommend to someone looking for a light alcohol system for a couple or small group and they desire a little more flexibility in their meals other than simple boil and eat.