Archive for February, 2012
The resounding answer is YES! How much you will save is much harder to estimate. If you live in the sunny Southwest, much of Mexico, or even the Middle East, where sun-power pours down on the land almost endlessly, then, of course, you will be able to make great use of a solar oven. Using the sun oven more often and in its varying methods: preparing daily meals, cooking food for storage, or dehydrating foods for later use, makes saving money on cooking easy since the energy source is our star’s free power.
If you’re using an older model gas range at home with standing pilots, the BTU rate can be calculated for cooking use, say for a month. Just subtract that cost, from the zero dollars needed for using the same 30 days of free energy solar oven use. A similar calculation may be used for an electric range.
How practical is this? Well, we’re not recommending you get rid of your gas or electric oven, but by using a solar oven as much as possible, saving money in food preparation becomes a reality. More about this later.
How convenient is this? Again, we can touch more on this at another time. However, by keeping your sun powered oven and accessories handy, as well as a planned meal with recipe and ingredients, convenience is no problem.
Try using your oven for solar cooking more often, and we feel sure you’ll find a drop in household energy use, thereby saving more bucks!
Lots of folks have their own banana nut bread (or muffin) recipe. In good sunshine, this will require about 2 1/2 to 3 hours of baking time in the sun oven. If you are using a Tulsi-hybrid solar cooking oven, it may take less time if clouds roll in and you switch it to electric mode. Just follow this simple recipe to enjoy some delicious bread made with our star’s free energy.
3/4 cup of honey (or maple syrup)
1 cup of chopped walnuts
1 cup of white flour
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of wheat germ
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
“pinch” of salt (or salt substitute)
3 bananas, mashed (ripe to extra ripe)
Use a large bowl and mix together the baking soda, baking powder, salt, wheat germ and both flours.
Use a separate bowl to stir together first the oil, honey and eggs. Then, mix in the mashed bananas. Next, dump one bowl into another, mix thoroughly and stir in the nuts.
Grease the loaf pan (we use a 9x5x3 inch pan, made of thin-walled dark metal). Pour in the batter and place into the solar cooker.
Bake in the solar oven for at least 2 hours. Test if it’s done by sticking a knife into the middle and then removed comes out clean.
Use a knife to cut around the edges of the bread to free it from the pan, invert onto a dish, let cool and then serve by slicing. It’s a delicious treat anytime.
This is a healthy, nutritious and filling little meal to help you start off your day. Actually, since it takes most of a day to cook in a solar box oven, you really need to prepare this on a sunny day and enjoy it the next day, whether sunny or cloudy. So, here’s the recipe:
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup slivered almonds (or chopped walnuts)
1/2 cup wheat germ
3 cups oatmeal
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup raisins
You’ll need a large bowl and a thin-walled dark metal baking pan. Gently mix all the ingredients in the bowl, then spread out evenly into a thin layer in the pan. Cover the pan and bake at least 4 hours in the solar cooker, longer is better to get a full flavor. This makes about 6, 1 cup servings. Keep this mixture covered and in the fridge to keep it fresh. Add some brown sugar or honey and a few more raisins before serving. It’s Sooooolar Delicious!
This is something to experience for yourself. The Global Sun Solar Oven, a superbly designed commercial cooker, that bakes, boils or steams your favorite foods alongside a homemade sun-powered oven that is busy cooking rice.
Now, doesn’t this just run the gamut of how simple, but practical solar cooking can be? Find a way to help us make solar cooking mainstream thing, and start saving the planet one meal at a time!
My wife has always enjoyed rice pilaf. It’s her favorite side when ordering at a restaurant. At home, she prepares it for solar cooking in the following manner:
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 small clove garlic (minced)
2 small sprigs of fresh parsley (chopped)
“pinch” of cayenne pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
“pinch” of salt (or salt substitute)
For solar cooking, use your thin-walled, dark metal pot (at least 2qt).
Place the onions, garlic, mushrooms and olive oil into it and fully saute over medium heat on your range.
Next, pour in the water and other ingredients, except the parsley, and increase heat to boil for a few minutes.
Cover the pot and put into the global sun oven. In good sunshine, it’ll take about 2 hours of minimum baking time.
We often use brown rice, which may take up to an hour more and require a little more water (it absorbs more).
Open the oven & lid to check when rice is done. If so, remove the pot from the solar cooker, stir in the fresh parsley, then let it cool a few minutes before serving, even though your eager dinner guests might want it “rice-away’!
Most outdoor solar ovens range in weight from 10 to 30 pounds, which makes them available to the hiker and overnight camper. Even many home-built models can be effectively mounted on a backpack frame. The pots and pans, food and other accessories usually fit inside the solar oven, which results in overall better portability. Many commercial models have built-in handles for easy carrying.
Whether it is a local, state, or national park, that beckons your next hiking/camping visit, a solar powered oven is a great choice to bring along. With it, there is no concern over having a campfire and no worries over permits, fire codes or accidents. One of the best benefits of solar cooking is never having to experience burnt food. It just won’t do that!
Another earthly benefit of a solar cooker, is that the only fuel it requires is sunshine. With it, there is no need to collect or purchase firewood, or buying propane and worrying about it running out. All of that is “out of the equation”.
By using a solar outdoor oven, you save money from not buying any fossil fuels. Solar energy is still FREE last time I checked.
Then there are the environmental aspects of using the oven. No burned fuel or pollutants will result solar oven use. You can reduce your carbon foot print every time you use it. It has to be about the simplest way an ordinary citizen can be “green”.
Since a solar oven requires sunshine to operate, planning and watching the weather report is the best thing to do before your next outing. Have the ingredients ready for all of your scheduled meals (try the brownie recipe for a delightful treat). Happy Trails!
Brownies give us that wonderful chocolate satisfaction, energy boost and chance to use our permanent solar oven for hiking. Since they turn out moist and usually require less than 2 hours of cooking time, we’ve found it to be a delightful treat on a long day hike.
1 cup of loose brown sugar
1/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1 stick of butter (melted)
handful of chopped walnuts (about 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup of white flour (unbleached)
“pinch” of red pepper
1/2 tsp of vanilla
Grease an 8 inch pan
Use a large bowl to mix the ingredients. First, mix the cocoa, salt, flour & sugar, then fold in the melted butter, vanilla extract and egg. Add the walnuts last. After completely mixing all, pour the batter into the pan. Bake uncovered in the solar oven for at least one hour in good sunshine. Remove when the top is hard & crispy and let cool for 15 minutes. Cut it into 9 squares (servings).
When I was a teenager, a girl-friend of mine had a very traumatic experience with a gas oven. Apparently, the burners were a little dirty. Somehow, while baking a pasta dish, she opened the oven door when the oven came on. Boom! She burned her face severely. Imagine, being 17 and having to deal with that. As I remember it, I did my best to comfort her.
That type of tragedy really stays with you, even after setting up my own household years later. We used a gas range on a daily basis and the thought of that young girl’s home accident remained fresh. But, if you enjoy cooking as I do, then you really cannot stay away from the stove.
Since I began experimenting with solar energy devices decades ago, the answer to my oven fear simply worked itself into my life. By using a solar box oven, you can cook just about anything and never have to fear the sudden appearance of a gaseous ball of flames in your face. It’s a mishap that just can’t happen. You can bake, boil or steam just about any traditional dish. You can also dehydrate foods with it, but more about that at another time. Yes, you still need to mind opening up a boiling pot of chili, and use oven mitts since the temperatures may reach 400 degrees Fahrenheit in a solar oven.
However, there’s no doubt in my mind, that using a solar cooker is safer than a conventional oven. Whether home-built or a commercial model, solar cooking easily overcomes the fear of having a conventional oven accident.
The newest, and largest, solar electric (hybrid) oven is the SunFocus (TM). Manufactured by SunBD Corp, it has a large cooking chamber; 13.5 x 13.5 x 6.25 inches. Most notable, is its high quality, made in America craftsmanship.
With such a large internal chamber at your disposal, you will find it easily accommodates most casserole dishes, a pizza, whole chicken, or small turkey. By using those, yes..dark-colored thin-walled metal pots, you can prepare several dishes simultaneously with this “big boy” solar electric oven.
The most touted feature of a solar electric oven is its electric backup. Should cloudy skies befall you in the middle of your solar cooking day, just switch the SunFocus to electric mode, the thermostat will keep up the temperature until sunny skies reappear (as they often do), or, until your meal is ready. A solar electric oven is very handy in the portions of our country not so blessed by sunshine, like New York and Pennsylvania. The highly efficient electric element within it operates on just a few pennies (uses 75% less electric than a traditional electric oven). It comes with side reflectors to increase cooking temperatures while using it as a normal solar oven. Temperatures of 400 degrees F are possible without the electric backup.
Like other solar cookers, the SunFocus uses a clever suitcase design with a carrying handle which makes it portable and easy to store. Remember, any solar oven may be a lifesaver during an emergency or catastrophe.