Archive for March, 2012

Very well, we think! Really, the double box solar oven is a simple, but efficient design. It is a box within a box with the two boxes separated by insulation (the non-toxic variety). There are many great plans out there to construct solar ovens, from using plywood, cardboard boxes and even pizza boxes.

However, here, we are discussing the normal commercial model.The outside box, essentially the case, which is usually equipped with a carrying handle, a feature loved by campers and hikers. It is typically made from a durable, black plastic. The inside box is usually comprised of aluminum with a anodized black, non toxic paint surface. It becomes the cooking chamber for the oven; where you put your potful of food. A double paned glass or plastic lid covers all and often has a seal to prevent air leakage. Also, clips or catches allow the tight closure of the lid for proper cooking. Most commercial models also include polished aluminum reflectors to enhance solar power and speed up cooking temperatures and time. By including, say, your soup ingredients into a dark colored thin-walled metal pot (granite-ware, stoneware type pots) the input of strong sunshine multiplies the green house effect and cooking temperatures can often be reached in less than twenty minutes.

Realistically, 220 to 300 degree temperatures are more common. This is sufficient to bake bread, make soup or stew, bake vegetables, pasteurize water, etc. in just a few hours.You get the picture, right? If conditions are excellent, and you have preheated your solar oven, temperatures of 400 degrees F are possible! But, it’s best to think of your solar oven as a solar powered crock pot. Lower temperatures allow thorough cooking of the food in its own juices. For many dishes, adding water is not necessary. Another benefit of solar cooking is the retention of vitamins and minerals of the meal. Try to cook your double box solar oven meal between 10am and 3pm if you are in the northern hemisphere.

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March 31, 2012 1:28 am

For those of us not living in the Third World, using a solar oven may be somewhat of a novelty. Of course, part of the reason for these writings is to inform people everywhere about the use and practicality of solar cooking.  No matter where you may be from, the applications for solar ovens exist. We are hoping to make sun cooking a mainstream item. They’ve been used worldwide, from the jungles of Africa to the base camps of Mt. Everest.

Be your own green advocate by using one. You can demonstrate to others, how well they work. Just have them taste the results! This way you’ll be able to influence others through your own bit of a greener lifestyle. You can bake, boil or steam a wide variety of foods. Food dehydration can also be done with the solar oven. Another important use is water pasteurization, one that campers, hikers of the outback and many in the Third World have come to respect. I often wonder if, while having so much fun making tasty food in the oven, the typical solar chef ever reflects on the possible results of their actions. After all, by solar cooking, they are saving natural resources (gas, coal, wood), reducing their carbon footprint, reducing deforestation, and maybe saving a life or two in there.

So, if you haven’t started already, see about getting one of these amazing devices. You’ll soon learn to prepare many of your traditional meals, and, if you keep in touch here, we’ll continue supplying recipes. Yes, you can be greener and start saving the planet one delicious meal at a time.

 

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March 27, 2012 12:39 am

Spring is here and, with more sunshine, the solar oven will be out there more often performing its wonderful job.  The following recipe is simple to put together in your dark colored thin-walled metal pot. Once everything is mixed together, you really don’t need to check it until it’s “done”, unless you’re me and like to stir it at least once after a couple hours in the sun.

Ingredients:

2 cups rice (your favorite)

1 cup chicken broth

1 can of cream of mushroom soup

1/2 tsp salt (or salt substitute)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or a few dashes of Tabasco,or black pepper)

1 cup of frozen mixed vegetables (peas,beans, carrots, broccoli, etc.)

1 cup water

2 boneless chicken breasts (cut up & mixed into everything)

1 small chopped onion

1 tsp minced garlic

Just mix everything thoroughly in the metal pot (3 qt “stoneware”), put into your solar oven for at least 3 hours of good sun and at least 220 degrees F. It makes a tasty meal of 6 servings. Enjoy!

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March 23, 2012 10:42 pm

You bet! No matter what your cast, level in life, or how much you have in your bank account, there’s a solar oven out there waiting for you to use.

If you really haven’t got much, you may be able to get one for almost nothing. Citizens of the Third World have been using solar cookers of various kinds for many years. Collapsible models are available that, with frequent use, become easy to use. Haiti, with its recent disaster, has hundreds of solar ovens in nearly daily use. Natives of Afghanistan are also getting quite adept at cooking with sun ovens. Living in a war torn land with resource interruptions hasn’t discouraged those folks. Nope, they just keep right on cooking with free solar power. The Japanese, creators of such fine cuisine, have been introduced to solar cooking for decades. Now, with their tsunami problems, many have adapted to using solar cooking for food preparation.

On the other hand, even if you live in sun-drenched Arizona, and have oodles of resources at hand, you might find it exciting and practical to start sun cooking. They don’t call it the “sun belt” for no reason, right? Get yourself a Global Sun Oven and try a meatloaf, some chicken or beef stew in it. The temperature will climb to around 400 degrees and in a few hours, your delicious meal will be ready to serve for family, friends or guests. You may keep it out on the back patio, cook there and thereby maintain a cooler indoor temperature, by not heating up the stove.

So, if you’re rich OR poor, you can benefit by solar cooking. Find a model that suits you, or maybe build one from plans. Once you have it, start learning how to prepare the wonderful, tasty meals made possible by using our star’s free energy.

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March 20, 2012 12:14 am

In the Northeast and Northwest, it’s simply meteorological fact that fewer sunny days happen. So, if you’re a solar oven owner, you must make the most of it, when that sterling bright solar cooking day comes along. After all, in these regions, Spring will soon bring the showers that make flowers. Successful solar cooking really depends a lot upon being prepared; prepared for disasters and ready for a sunny day of solar cooking fun.

Yes, you have your particular model of oven, say an SOS Sport, clean and ready to accept a pot of something. Always have a couple, maybe even 5 recipes with ingredients at the ready. When that sunshine breaks through your morning window, you won’t even hesitate. After the first dozen or so times of setting up the sun oven and preparing the meal to put into it, everything will fall into place. Not to be trite, but it’ll go like clockwork. Depending on your location, you may need to keep watch on your solar oven, especially in the aforementioned areas, because the sun’s angle is still fairly low in the sky. You will likely be refocusing, elevating and, possibly, leveling your solar oven to maximize the solar radiation cooking your meal. But, that’s all just part of the fun and you won’t be spending every minute doing that. You may even have time to fly a kite with some kids!

Truly, to use your solar oven efficiently, you will want to be prepared as possible for that next sunny day. It’s just around the corner!

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March 16, 2012 1:24 am

Scenario: Earthquake in Southwest US, 5/10/15. Reporter: “A major 9.1 scale earthquake happened today and has caused mass destruction and loss of life in the region. Most sensitive is the suspension of natural gas distribution and scattered electrical outages. At this time, no complete assessment of the overall damage is known and no estimate exists for the restoration of the aforementioned service. Some looting of grocery stores is already happening.”

Where might you be if such a circumstance is manifested? Could be you’re a victim at ground zero, or, injured in a hospital. Possibly you are trapped in a building a waiting for rescue. The recent Japanese disaster has sharpened our senses for real world catastrophe. Those poor people have certainly endured a lot. Loss of life, damage to the economy and infrastructure are all too real.

So, if it happens in our “backyard”, having a solar cooker handy and some stored dry food items may help you and your family over the rough spots. An earthquake can sever gas transmission lines thereby forcing authorities to shut them off for safety’s sake. Plans for more electric generation by natural gas use are underway. This could compound the problem in the event of a major disaster like an earthquake. It is likely that both electric and gas utility distribution could be suspended for quite awhile.

So, get out your sun oven and practice making entire meals with it. Bake bread, steam vegetables, make soups and stews. You’ll find it to be a very reliable and worthy friend in such a catastrophe. Certainly, worldwide, this is already a fact for some. Let’s make it real for millions more before the next “big one” hits.

There’s some food for thought in your solar oven.

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March 14, 2012 12:19 am

Those of us of the Catholic persuasion find ourselves in the middle of Lent. We eat our fish dinners and soups of various meatless varieties for Fridays of the Lenten Season. Tomato soup is usually made available to us when eating out. Here’s a simple and tasty tomato soup, with a little more to keep you satisfied. It’s a breeze in the solar oven.

Ingredients:

3 cups of chicken broth

1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce

1 tsp garlic (minced)

1/4 cup of celery (chopped)

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)

3 cans of diced tomatoes

dash of salt (or salt substitute)

1 large onion (chopped)

1 1/4 cup of low-fat milk (2% is fine)

2 Tbs of olive oil

1 Tbs of honey

1/2 tsp cayenne, red pepper or black pepper

2 Tbs balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp of thyme

Directions:

Saute the onion, garlic and celery in the olive oil over medium heat in a sauce pan until soft (5-10 min.). Next, dump in the tomatoes, sauce, salt, broth and thyme. Bring to light boil on the stove top for 15 – 20 minutes. Pour everything into a blender and puree until smooth. Stir in the milk, pepper, honey and vinegar and place all into the dark colored thin-walled metal pot, cover and cook in preheated sun oven for 1  hour (in good sunshine).  This soup is quite filling and delicious. Sprinkle some grated cheddar cheese on top and make some Texas toast too.

 

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March 12, 2012 11:28 pm

It won’t be too long before many of us with gardens will have planted some

Swiss chard or kale. Here is a great old Italian soup recipe that we’ve always enjoyed. On a nice sunny day, it will ready in your solar oven after 4 or 5 hours.

Ingredients:

1 lb kale or Swiss chard (chopped,rinsed & drained;separate stems & leaves)

1 can chicken broth

2 cans of cannellini beans

3 cups of water

1/2 tsp cayenne/red pepper

3 tsp minced garlic

1 cup couscous

1/2 tsp salt (or salt substitute)

1/2 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

1 Tbs olive or canola oil

Directions:

On the stove top, warm the olive oil in a big skillet and toss in the garlic and stems. Gently stir and saute over medium heat for a few minutes.

Next, except for the salt and cheese, combine everything else into a dark colored thin-walled metal pot and put on the lid. Then, put it into the sun oven, then focus the oven and let things cook for, at least, 4 hours. About 15 minutes before serving, stir in the salt and cheese.

Mmmmmn…good! I can’t wait till Spring gets here to have some of this.

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March 5, 2012 2:17 pm

Doing your part to save the planet is a “breeze” by breaking out your solar oven. Most commercial solar cookers are simple to use and set up in minutes. Prepare your next meal (providing it’s a sunny day) with a solar oven and use the sun’s free energy to do it.

Keep your solar oven on a back porch or patio with accessories close bye. Have a list of recipes and foods so you are ready to get cooking with sun power. By using just solar energy, you save money and the planet at the same time. No need to use gas or electric to make a meal on a sunny day; just set up a sun oven.

Loads of recipes are available for solar ovens, but you’ll find that many of your own traditional dishes can be made in them. Since most  ovens reach temperatures of between 250 and 400 degrees, depending on the quality of sunshine, it may just take a little longer to cook the meal (this concerns the typical double box solar oven style). Just think of your oven as a solar crock pot. The slow, even cooking allows foods to cook in their own juices. Healthy vitamins and minerals are retained this way. You’ll find less liquids need to be added to solar cooked food. Start cooking with the sun to be “greener”.

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March 2, 2012 12:23 am