I don't know why thermal cookers are not more mainstream in the US... They are quite popular in Asia and other parts of the world. They conserve energy used in cooking by utilizing an insulated outer pot that holds an inner pot that you heated to boiling for a short time on top of the stove. The insulation keeps the inner pot and its' contents hot for hours as the food continues to cook from the residual heat inside. Basically, it is a crock pot without having to keep it plugged in. But those sold online are quite expensive. A 1.5 gallon pot on Amazon will set you back a cool $200, such as this one.
So I took matters into my own hands. I had been planning on making a fabric version, and even purchased some insulated fabric, but my first attempt was an epic fail. The problem was that I did not research it enough and sort of "winged" it. Let's suffice it to say that it was not going to work. My mistake was that I was trying to reinvent the wheel, figuratively. Why waste time doing it when someone smarter than me has already done the work? I found this great tutorial here, and it was brilliant. Only two pattern pieces! I already had the cotton fabric in my stash, so that was free. I did have to pay $15.00 for a bean bag chair at Walmart for the polystyrene beads inside to use as insulation. I still have enough beads left over for another thermal cooker. I think someone will get one for Christmas as a gift. :) Basically, it is a beanbag with a dent in the middle to place your heated pot. Then you put an insulated lid on top (pictured on the right) and wait for the requisite time without touching it. (I hear that is the hardest part. NO peeking!)
Will test drive the cooker for dinner tonight.
P.S. The fabric from my first failed attempt did not go to waste. I made an outer shell to place the thermal cooker in for additional heat retention!