Archive for January, 2012
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled/grated zucchini
1 tsp salt (or salt substitute)
3 cups flour
3 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper (for less Zesty, use black pepper)
2 large eggs
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
While preheating the solar oven to around 160 degrees, first, mix together the eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Next, add in the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Separate the mixture into 2 standard greased bread pans. With strong sunshine, the bread should be ready to remove from the sun oven in 2 ½ to 4 hours. Let it cool and store in aluminum foil. It’s a great year round treat with coffee, tea or milk.
Just as important as prepping the solar oven on a sunny day, or gathering the right ingredients, taking care to have the proper accessories on hand will help ensure a successful culinary venture every time. By selecting the proper cookware, having a good thermometer, using oven mitts, and a dedicated set of utensils, great results do happen. Use the following information when preparing your next meal in a box or panel style oven. Some information also applies to parabolic models.
High on the accessory priority list is a set of solar oven friendly cookware. Choose dark colored pots and pans, preferably black, brown or blue, that are constructed of thin-walled metal. This enhances heat absorption and results in faster cooking times. Be sure to get lids when buying cookware, since they are often sold without them. Try to avoid shiny aluminum or stainless steel cookware, since sun power reflects away from them. Look for glass cookware, or stoneware and graniteware labels. It is very helpful to know the dimensions of the solar oven’s cooking chamber before selecting cookware. This way, a proper fit of pots and pans can be made allowing for multiple course meal preparation.
Also of high importance, is having a reliable thermometer. Many commercial models include them. However, having a good thermometer is essential because it helps gauge cooking time, which is very dependent upon the quality of sunshine. A quick glance at the thermometer allows for checking the oven chamber temperature. Get a good thermometer at a hardware or department store. Also recommended is a meat thermometer, since it checks the specific food temperature and helps verify safe cooking.
Even a novice solar chef knows enough to use oven mitts. Solar ovens often reach 400 degree temperatures, so it only makes sense to don a pair of mitts before reaching inside to adjust a pan, or add something to a pot. When lifting a lids, avoid leaning over pots, as the food inside them may still be boiling, steaming or splattering. Remember that a solar oven really is just another kind of oven!
Utensils are often under-rated. Many times the cook’s favorite dishes help determine what utensils should be dedicated for solar cooking, whether they are kept separately in a drawer or box. If the cook makes lots of soup and stew, then a good quality ladle is essential. For meat dishes, having the right knife is important, as is the proper serving knife for baked items. By having a clean and ready set of utensils, much frustration can be avoided.
If a table or stand is used, caution must be taken to keep it level. Some solar oven models have built-in levelers and most are meant to be used right on the ground. With the food inside and cooking, take special care when refocusing the sun cooker on a table, there is a chance of it falling or a meal-ruining spill happening. Also, bear in mind that the table must be strong enough to support the solar oven containing its load of cookware and food.
Solar oven accessories really can make a difference in successful meal preparation. By regularly using this advice with a box or panel style oven, a new solar cook will likely have better culinary results. Being equipped with the right accessories of cookware, thermometers and oven mitts helps ensure this. With more experience, anyone with culinary-minded enthusiasm will graduate to the safe, environmentally-friendly, go anywhere, cook anything realm of the solar chef.
Certainly, those of us who enjoy cooking, usually start from scratch or a recipe. Sometimes, when we’re in a hurry or having a busy day, but it’s a great solar powered cooking day, we take another route. After all, you have your solar cooker handy, why not make something to come home to if it’s a gorgeous sunny day, right?
Since, we like corn bread, we always keep a store-bought mix handy. Have you tried Larry the Cable Guy’s Corn Muffin mix? We picked one up for just a buck at a local store. But, we’ve also tried “Jiffy” and other brands in the past and they also come out fine.
For Larry’s mix, only ½ cup of milk and 2 large eggs are needed. The only prep work is to grease the muffin or 8 inch pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. For your solar cooker, 160 degrees is acceptable. Larry’s bread cooks at 375 degrees for 32-36 minutes in a conventional oven, but a solar box oven will need about 2 ½ to 3 hours of strong sunshine to bake it through. Other box mixes, sometimes just take one egg and less normal oven time.
Although it was delicious, Larry’s bread tasted a bit eggy to us the first time we tried it, so we added ¼ cup of shredded cheddar cheese to it (as Larry recommends on the box) and it was better. The next time we decided to give it our own touch by adding Cajun seasoning (cayenne pepper works too) and bacon bits to the mix. Another way to make it tastier, is to add a handful of raisins to the mix. As Larry says, they’re “awesome”.
Hope you have as much fun as we do with Larry’s cornbread muffins.
2 Tbs Molasses
½ cup Ketchup (here in PA, we prefer Heinz’s)
1 Tbs Mustard
Salt (to taste)
Cayenne Pepper (to taste)
1 Small Onion, diced
1 tsp Olive Oil (or vegetable oil)
Worcestershire sauce ( to taste)
1 Clove Garlic, pressed (or 1 tsp minced garlic)
2 Tbs Brown Sugar
2 Cans of Northern White, or White Kidney Beans (drained & rinsed)
First, toss the onion and garlic into a skillet with the warmed olive oil and sauté until soft.
Completely mix all the ingredients, including the oil, garlic and onion in a dark pan or casserole dish (dark dishes work better in the solar oven because of improved heat retention.) Put the salt, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper into the mix separately and last, so you can taste to suit.
Place the pan into the solar cooker and cover with the lid. As usual, you should preheat the oven to around 160 degrees, before placing the dish into it. Cooking time will vary with the strength of sunshine, but it normally only takes between 2 and 3 hours for this anytime favorite dish to be ready. The beans will be steaming hot when done. Remove and enjoy!
Note: A change to this recipe, would be to use dried beans. To prepare them, they will need to soak overnight in water. The next day, put them into the solar oven to cook for the best range of time you can…all day if possible. Drain them and then put in the other ingredients and follow the above recipe. We believe it does create better tasting baked beans this way, however, sometimes it’s difficult to count on two good days of sunshine in PA. So, we usually go the canned bean route.
In any case, Baked Beans make a great treat anytime…Summer or Winter. And, they have that added benefit of giving you, uh…plenty of energy!
Why I got into solar ovens, had to due with the desire to move out of my current business. I’ve been in rental real estate for over 20 yrs and, due to the downturn of the economic climate, was concerned over the longevity of my business, even though we’re pretty well established. Also, I’ve been a licensed PA property and casualty insurance agent for decades, but have grown bored and frustrated with the legal entanglements that sometimes influence that industry. My other work as a movie theater projectionist was also beginning to test me, as the late and weekend hours began to wear on me. I’ve been a projectionist since I was 18 yrs old.
I have had an interest in solar energy use for a long time, and thought of it as a possible business for me over the last several years. As those applications on real property could have cost saving benefits on electric and hot water use. However, I’ve been forced to make a living by continuing with the real estate/insurance work. Recently, I sold off a few properties and launched the solar oven business.
Why solar ovens? For decades I’ve watched the growth of other solar energy applications such as in photovoltaics and wind. In fact, when I was in the military in the mid-70’s, I worked with instruments using PV technology and solar radiation measurement. Being grounded by working with this equipment also helped spark my interest in solar energy use.
Solar ovens were always a part of that mix. A few years ago, I used some plans I obtained on the Internet to construct a simple box oven model. I discovered then as to how well they work and caught the solar oven bug. My brother had a sideline business selling goods at flea markets, etc. So, it was a natural step to market the solar ovens with some success. Once, I established commercial suppliers for the solar ovens, the next logical step was to do internet marketing. Thus, SolarOvenShop.com was born last year.
We have tried to offer the highest quality, commercially available oven on the website. They are all of the box oven design. Our newest model, the SunFocus, which is manufactured in the USA by SunBd Corp., has a huge cooking chamber. You can roast a holiday turkey in it! With its backup electric feature, cloudy days can still make for a good solar oven cooking day. We also offer 2 well-designed ovens that have been available for decades; that is, the Global Sun Oven and the SOS Sport. They operate very well by simply using our star’s free energy and often reach temperatures in the 300 to 400 degree range on a clear sunny day. On the site, we simplify ordering and check0ut by including shipping with the order (within the continental US). This helps us keep our prices low and remain competitive.
Our near future plans include several new products. Soon, we will be offering panel style solar cookers, which are more portable and great for hikers. Also, we want to offer a parabolic model cooker. This style can reach temperatures of over 1000 degrees and allows for fried food preparation. We want to put our own solar box design plans on the site and also offer models for food dehydration and water purification. Finally, we are compiling our own solar cookbook and hope have it available by spring 2012.
We have also established our own blog, solarovenshopblog.com, where we will be sharing our knowledge of solar cooking with the world. Since blogs encourage feedback, we’ll be able to highlight many new recipes this way. It’s all about making the solar oven learning experience more “palatable“. Solar cooking one of the easiest ways to be “green” and enjoy the results at the same time.
Wishing You Sunny Smiles,
Well, I’m none of the above, and will not have this platform turn political or religious. However, I do know about solar ovens and cooking with them. If some disasters and catastrophes are to befall any of us in 2012, especially of natural origin, like a flood, tornado, hurricane or earthquake, then I feel certain that a solar oven will be a useful and possibly life-saving possession.
Whatever aforementioned calamity occurs and puts you through trials and tribulations, the solar cooker can be put to work immediately. Strength and health can be maintained by a steady supply of cooked food. Often, the foods to be prepared, particularly meat dishes, need no extra water added. The food cooks in its own juices. If fresh water is limited, or if concerns over its potability arise, the solar oven can also be used for water pasteurization. In fact, some models, like the SOS Sport, include a water pasteurization indicator in its kit. Sunny days are the essential ingredient to make solar ovens operate. However, newer hybrid models,like the Tulsi Electric Hybrid, have an electric backup system. This allows for continued cooking if clouds appear, but power is available. If necessary,you could conceivably prepare food at night, with a solar electric model oven.
Many panel style solar cookers have been used for years in remote Africa to help battle the ever present reality of wood shortages for fireplace cooking. More recently during Haiti’s disaster, global sun ovens were used to help keep surviving populations strong and fed. People were using solar ovens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did its damage. It’s also been reported that, during the recent Turkey earthquakes, TV crews filmed people using solar ovens.
Certainly, solar cookers can help during many types of disasters. But, if the real end of the world comes, I’ll probably be caught with my solar oven by my side, with its easy-to-carry handle and, maybe a can of soup. Let’s hope 2012 brings us all good fortune, a better economy and world peace!
Happy New Year!