Archive for April, 2012
If you own and use a solar powered oven, you’ll be doing a big part to conserve energy in your household. You know, it’ll reduce your carbon footprint. No burning of wood, or other fossil fuel is required to operate a typical solar box oven.
Sure, we’re aware of the strides that many kitchen appliances, like the average microwave oven, have made in energy efficiency over the years. However, with the solar oven, often little preparation is needed to make a daily meal which can be thoroughly cooked by using the sun’s free energy.
The Third World is rapidly grasping and adopting solar oven use. Participants of solar cooking in these areas know that they are saving their own energy by not having to search vast and often dangerous regions for firewood. Their lives are directly affected and enhanced by solar oven use. They are healthier since they are not breathing smoke from wood fires. And, maybe they don’t realize it, but they’re also not releasing more CO2, particulates and other unnecessary gases into the atmosphere from wood fire use.
Those who live in sun-drenched lands can immediately start conserving energy, whether natural gas, electric, wood, coal, charcoal or other fossil fuels by cooking with a solar oven. The other great benefit to using a sun oven is keeping more green in your wallet. Energy costs more money than ever. Did you fill up your gas tank today? So, Southwest or Southeast USA residents can really do their part relating to the so-called Fifth Fuel. Start conserving energy today by getting or building a solar oven.
You can bake, boil or steam most of your favorite foods in a solar space oven, and prepare several dishes simultaneously.
Stay in touch with us here for solar oven tips and recipes.
Whether it’s the waning late summer afternoon sunshine, or the fleeting window of strong sunlight in mid-winter, knowing how to refocus your solar oven is essential knowledge for a solar chef. So, how easy is refocusing? Ha, it’s a piece of cake! Pun intended! To refocus a solar oven, simply watch the shadows around the oven and keep them even on all sides. This keeps it tracking the sun’s path.
The Global Sun Oven has a built in leg which allows for easy sun tracking. It is suggested that a refocus is needed about every 30 minutes for the Sun Oven. This also depends on the time of day, the desired temperature to keep and what type food is being cooked. The Global Sun Oven also has a built in “levelator” feature that keeps pots level in the oven chamber, thus avoiding spills which is a real advantage when refocusing. A different commercially available model, the SOS Sport Solar Oven, is cleverly designed to accommodate two different sun angles; a 30 degree for direct mid-day sun and 60 degree for low angle sun like early morning, late afternoon or winter.
Some solar oven models, such as the Tulsi Electric and SunFocus, have an electric backup feature. The efficient electric heater within those ovens, normally takes over if clouds move in. But, it is also a handy feature in case you forget to refocus, or were late in getting back to your cooking, etc.
So, as you can see, there really isn’t much of a learning curve with refocusing a solar oven. Paying attention to the seasonal changes and the sun’s angle are something that will come with experience as you continue to enjoy sun-cooked/free energy meals.
We were watching, “Tortilla Soup” an older movie starring Hector Elizondo, a few nights ago and became inspired to share this recipe. It’s easy and fairly quick to make. And, there’s nothing like soup cooked in a solar oven for hours. The flavor is through and through delicious.
1 onion, chopped
1 large can of chicken broth
2 Tbs taco seasoning (Old El Paso, etc)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or black, or Cajun seasoning)
1 large can of fire-roasted tomatoes
3 generously rounded cups of rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs cilantro, chopped
Keep on hand an avocado, sour cream, queso blanco (shredded) or a favorite shredded cheese, tortilla chips and a lime.
Puree the onion, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro and chicken broth together in a blender. Then, dump it into your favorite dark colored thin walled metal pot (3 qt roaster of stoneware variety). Mix in the chicken, then cover with lid and place into your solar box oven for at least 3 hours (depending on how good your sunshine is that day).
The ease of use of solar cooking mostly pertains to solar gain within the solar box oven (type of solar oven discussed here). Oh yes, most folks understand how well passive solar heating, the concept at work here, is manifested. Ever climb into your car that’s been setting in the sun all day with it’s windows closed? Or, fry an egg on a parking lots’ asphalt? You get the picture.
Passive solar heating is employed by the solar box oven by it’s having a dark colored interior, preferably metal, like aluminum, which will also conduct the heat into the cooking vessel. The latter, is usually a dark colored thin walled metal pot with a lid. The “stoneware” or “granite-ware” varieties often work the best. The solar oven also has a double -paned glass or plastic lid that tightly seals against the frame, thus allowing none of the internally heated air in the cooking chamber to escape. Use an oven thermometer to monitor the cooking temperature.
The oven is placed facing the sun and left alone to prepare the meal inside it. How simple is that? It’s no wonder that this “solar crock pot” is becoming more popular at all types of outings. For many years, it’s been a favorite of RVers, campers and hikers, but now they’re seen at beaches, family reunions and get-togethers of all kinds. The solar box oven often reaches 400 degree F temperatures, so it easily bakes, boils or steams many traditional dishes. An added benefit, is its use to pasteurize water.
What a great, simple and enjoyable way to use passive solar power. The solar prepared meal is the proof.
Here’s yet another way to serve up rice and create it in your solar oven.
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 small onion (chopped)
6 to 8 strips of bacon
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter (or margarine)
2 cups rice
1 cup water
dash of salt(salt substitute)
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
On the stove top, first, prepare the bacon by frying it crispy and then crumbling it. Next, in a separate pan, melt the butter and mix in the olive oil and onions to soften them. Then, put the rice in the pan and stir over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until rice color changes. Put in the bacon, sage, salt, pepper & rosemary. Stir all well and the pour into a 3qt roaster, which is preferably a dark colored thin walled metal pot with lid. Pour in the consomme and water, cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning (sunshine), place the covered pot into your solar oven, after preheating it, an let it cook at least 4 hours. You can check it by making sure all liquids are absorbed. Remove when ready from the solar oven and stir contents again. Transfer everything into a large, glass serving bowl. It makes about 8 servings.
The simple baked potato can nearly be a meal in itself. Baking potatoes, was something we discovered long ago at the beginning of our solar cooking days, to be a healthy and simple way to enjoy our sun oven.
It’s easy to prepare about a half-dozen medium sized potatoes in the 3 quart roaster. You know why to use it; because it’s a dark colored thin walled metal pot, that will trap the maximum heat energy. Pour enough water into the pan just to completely cover the bottom, no more than 1/2 inch deep. Put the lid on and then place the oven at your favorite spot in the yard, patio, etc. and let the sun do the rest. How easy is that? Can you see why solar ovens are often promoted as a survivalists’ favorite appliance?
With a strong sunny day, no more than 4 hours will be needed for the potatoes to bake in most solar ovens. Just remove and slice them open. They come out moist and delicious. Top them with margarine or butter, a dash of salt( or salt substitute), broccoli and cheese, chives (often preferred by our guests), or some cayenne pepper, bacon bits (or the cereal substitute) or whatever your family and guests prefer. Serve a simple garden salad with this and you’ve got a fine meal. Keep that brimming sunny smile and special place in your heart while enjoying your solar cooking day.
Although highly touted here before this, and certain to continue, are the much acclaimed benefits of solar cooking.
You may be a either a novice cook, culinary expert, or someone in between. In any case, you will discover the ways of solar cooking to make your own masterpieces. Whether your solar box oven is homemade, or a commercially obtained unit, you will quickly become enlightened to the uses of this cost efficient oven.
Before long, you will have found ways to create your preferred dishes. After that, you’ll be experimenting with loads of other tasty delights. A solar box cooker, can bake, boil or steam foods of your choosing.
Since solar oven temperatures often max out around 400 degrees F (solar box ovens), you will learn to better plan your meals and the required cooking time. Have your ingredients ready for that special solar cooked meal on that next blessed sunny day.
Most significant, is how much money you’ll find that you’re saving on energy costs by using the sun’s free energy to prepare meals. By solar cooking more frequently, you’ll save a bundle. To be sure, there is a learning curve with solar cooking, but it’s not as steep as you think. Whether you’re a beginner cook or advanced chef, you can soon be out there with the rest of us squinting into the sun oven chamber to see how the evening meal is coming along. Start solar enjoying cooking today!
Yes, it’s a given than not everyone likes eggplant. However, here’s a healthy way to make the dish without any boiling or frying. You’ll be pleasantly surprised as to how tender and delicious it comes out of the solar oven.Let our star’s free source of energy make take the work out of making this delicacy.
1 cup Mozzarella cheese
1 large eggplant, over 1 lb, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 cup peas (frozen or fresh, either is ok)
3 cups of roasted garlic flavored spaghetti sauce
2 tsp oregano (fresh is better, but dried will work)
1/2 tsp black pepper (or cayenne for spicy touch)
3/4 cup water
If you’ve never made Eggplant Parmesan, you’ll need to know it’s a layered dish. First, get your dark colored thin-walled metal pot with lid, and lightly oil it. Dump in about a 1/2 cup of the sauce, then put in a layer of eggplant slices (about half of the total), then about half of the peas and cover them with about half of the mozzarella cheese, more of the spaghetti sauce and half the Parmesan Cheese. Just repeat the process with the other half of remaining sauce, eggplant, peas, mozzarella and Parmesan. Top off everything with a few remaining shreds of mozzarella, and then sprinkle the pepper, oregano and water over it all. For this to come out soft throughout, you’ll need to keep it in your sun oven for most of the day, at least 4 or 5 hours. Maybe let your guests taste it first before you tell them what it is. Blindfold anyone?