Archive for August, 2015
Like all passions, sometimes you get so caught up in what you are doing, that you can lose your cool when things go awry. Many times this occurs when you forget something essential. Solar cooking isn’t much different that way. If you have been solar cooking for awhile, you have probably adapted to much that will be mentioned here, but it doesn’t mean you might get a little upset at yourself.
Like the song says, “Don’t worry, be happy now”
Say, you left on a short road trip with your oven(s) and forgot an oven thermometer. That will get you stirred up! We rely on those little devices a lot. But, in most cases, you can overcome that if you have been solar cooking for some time. You have a fairly good idea about how long the food has to be in the cooker. Of course, you can always go by the physical manifestations; is the water/soup/chili, etc., boiling like it is supposed to? It’s almost a no brainer if you are baking bread or a cake, just sample it, right?
Don’t let some of the other things bother you either. For example, like forgetting a certain spice for the recipe; it will just turn out a little different, or, maybe add it after it is done cooking. Maybe you couldn’t find your dark-colored metal pot, well, shiny ones still work, just not as well. Leave it in the sun a bit longer. You don’t have to get ticked off about this stuff. Your next solar cooking experience will make up for it.
And, regarding Ticks, which are becoming more of an outdoor hazard just about anywhere, we have a solution. Try this tick repellent. Those little buggers are getting to be a real nuisance! Stay green!
Oh, so there are so many reasons people do not get started solar cooking. They get cold feet. Yes, there are always plenty of excuses. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the disadvantages? Of course, we think so!
“I don’t have time“, “It’s easier to use the gas grill“, “It’s always cloudy when I want to cook“, “Solar ovens are so expensive“, and the perennial, “solar ovens don’t work“. Yep, plenty of reasons are given by naysayers regarding solar cooking. REALLY!?
Well, we think there are lots of reasons to take up solar cooking. First, it’s great for the environment and a “big step” in helping reduce your personal carbon footprint. It’s also fun! Just chat with a few solar chefs and you will find out very quickly how solar cooking can become a passion.
As far as being expensive, you can build your own first oven with free plans and a few simple, inexpensive household items. As you progress, opt for a panel cooker that is very reasonable in price, but effective in its design and portability. If you have $100-$400, you can buy a very decent solar cooker and use it for many years (the Solavore Sport, GoSun Stove, and All American Sun Oven come to mind).
Also, many of the commercial solar oven manufacturers have programs based on their sales, whereby they donate ovens and, or, aid to the Third World countries. This is especially important in Africa and South America, where using solar ovens has the potential to save lives. Women, who largely search for firewood and put themselves at risk or rape or capture, will be able to remain in villages and safely use sunshine instead of unhealthy smokey fires to cook their meals.
And as far as solar ovens not working? Well, let’s see:
So, we know that colder weather is on its way back to our hemisphere very soon. So, don’t get cold feet over solar cooking. As long as there is good sunshine, even the snow won’t hold you back from making a solar-cooked meal.
There is also no good reason to have cold feet inside. The advances in electric radiant heating make retrofitting your abode much easier than in the past. Look at this:
Get out your 3 quart dark colored metal pot, and get ready to make a tasty meal in the All American Sun Oven.
You will need and need to (recipe):
1/3 cup your favorite tomato sauce
4 medium potatoes, quartered
1 package of polish (beef or turkey) kielbasa
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs fresh ground black pepper
4-6 mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1/2 medium-sized zucchini, chopped
Preheat your solar oven. Slice the kielbasa into 1-2 inch pieces, mix in all the other ingredients and aim the solar oven. With good sunshine, and temperatures over 300 degrees, this meal should be ready in 1/2 to 2 hours. It took us 3 hours this time on a partly cloudy day with temperatures between 260 and 300 F. We do not use salt to cook for health reasons, but you may want to add a teaspoon for flavoring.
And, wow, was it good coming out of the All American Sun Oven:
So, everything came out tasty and delicious, despite the passing clouds that caused the temperature to drop from time to time.
For those of you who really, absolutely, positively must have a fire-cooked meal, here is a solution. Try investing in a small but efficient “rocket” stove. There are many good stoves like this currently available. Watch this video to see how easy it is to use a EzyStove.
In our area, at this time of year, there seems to be a plethora of fresh zucchini. Friends that garden, as well as family members, all seem to have a plentiful patch of zucchini this year. So, why not take advantage of those lovely green things they give ( sometimes force upon) you. Of course, the markets are also stocked with them, just in case you cannot find a helpful garden friend.
Well, here is a simple and tasty solution for that delicious green surplus; Zucchini Parmesan Rounds. This recipe will take you only a few minutes to prepare and only an hour, or so, in your solar oven to bake.
Slice the zucchini into rounds and lightly bathe them in olive oil and then a mixed egg. Lightly your cooking pan with oil and space the slices on the bottom. Lightly sprinkle with garlic powder, then black pepper (my zesty friends use red pepper). Next, sprinkle a layer of bread crumbs and then spoon grated Parmesan onto each slice. Pop it into the oven and let the sunshine do its magic. Surprisingly, they come out moist and delicious.
And…an hour later with passing clouds.
We also used the All American Sun oven to bake some of these tasty slices.
Just another demonstration of what green living, gardening and solar cooking, in this instance, can do to make your life better. If you are interested in starting your own garden, seed your thinking a little. Visit www.solarovenshop.com
If you are lucky enough to belong to a solar cooking group, then you know the fun that arises when one, a few, or many of you get together and break out your various solar cookers and solar ovens. The fun really ensues when a crowd of onlookers and non-members shows up and begins to ask the predictable questions. Does it only work if it’s sunny? How hot does it get? Can I fry a hamburger? Will it burn your food? Of course, a gathering of solar chefs themselves is always a “hoot”. It can get interesting and, at times downright competitive if two people are preparing the same solar cuisine. Then again, we have heard of chili cook-offs being held most notably in the southwest USA.
Other solar cooking assemblies take the other form of teaching others how to use and benefit from their use.
Many of the manufacturers have wonderful instructional you tube videos that will help the new solar chef every step of the way. Check out this one by Paul Munsen of Sun Oven International, as he shows you the great features of the All American Sun Oven:
So much for the solar oven floor show. Now, if you want to continue following a green lifestyle, and own your home. Consider using electric or other (hot water) radiant floor heating. Its very efficient and gives a great all around warmth to most homes. Yes, it is still August, but, before you know it, the heating system will be on and your energy bill will be on the increase. Researching radiant floor heating and adapting it to your situation, is work a look. There is money to be saved, as well as the planet.
Wow, there is so much information and interest in Paleo dieting! It’s a subject frequently visited by health and weight loss sites and blogs. There is a good reason for it. So many of us eat processed foods to the max. Much of that is not so good for us anymore, so the experts tell us. And, so many of us have autoimmune disorders.
A brief search and read of Paleo diet information reveals that loads of dishes and their recipes, use crock pots or slow cookers for their preparation. That’s where your solar cooker comes in. So many solar ovens and solar cookers take the slow and even approach to cooking the food. So with Paleo, you might be interested in baking some gluten-free bread or cake. A typical solar oven, like the All American Sun Oven, is the perfect choice for this, since its temperatures easily reach 300 degrees F and provide a slower baking process. The results are always astounding. Food cooked with nothing but sunshine as the fuel.
Here is some valuable information about Paleo Dieting:
An estimated 50 million Americans suffer from some form of autoimmune disease. If you are among them, you may know all too well how little modern medicine can do to alleviate your condition. But that is just no reason to surrender hope. In her groundbreaking book, Sarah D. Ballantyne, Ph.D., draws upon current medical research and her own battle with an autoimmune disorder to show you how possible it is for you to turn this situation around and become symptom-free…the natural way.
The Solavore Sport Solar Oven is a box-style solar oven. It is quite lightweight at 10lbs, but can accommodate 2, 3 quart cooking pans. If you happen to take your solar cooking on the hiking trail, it is good to know that the oven, food to cook, and pans can be easily strapped onto a backpack. You have the responsibility then to “find your place in the sun”. It is commercially available at a reasonable price, and comes with some great recipes.
As with many box solar ovens, temperatures can easily reach 300 degrees Fahrenheit. With our experience, the Solavore is probably closer to 250 degrees in our region on a sunny day. The Solavore also features the use (optional) of sturdy aluminum reflector panels. We find that, in our area, the reflectors do help keep the overall cooking temperature higher. However, it has been successfully used to bake bread, cakes and dehydrate cherries, grapes and tomatoes, without the use of the reflector. However, when preparing meat, when the cooking time may take 3 – 4 hours, the reflectors help keep that temperature higher and steadier. This is especially true when overhead clouds may come and go. See the video example below.
Yes..the Solavore eats sunshine like a herbivore eats grass. It is efficient and uses no fossil fuels to cook a hearty meal. The chef inhales no gas fumes or labors over a smokey fire. Solar cooking is clean, eco-friendly and fun!
Oh, it may take an hour or so longer than your conventional gas or electric oven, but the rewards are greater. For one thing, you don’t heat up your kitchen on a warm day. The food cooks in its own juices, retains vitamins & tastes great.
Of course, since the Solavore is fueled by sunshine, it also works fine on winter’s sunny days. In fact, its built in feature of being able to set it up on its short side, enables it to catch the sun’s low angle rays even in mid-winter.
Okay, so it works great. So, while it cooks you meal, at least in warmer temperatures, why not “swing” into your survival hammock. Try it out and be sure it functions properly if the need arises. Take a siesta while the solavore cooks your meal and enjoy your parachute hammock.
The GoSun Solar Stove has a fantastic design. With its combination of evacuated tube technology and reflectors, it obtains 500 degree Fahrenheit temperatures quite frequently. With this solar cooker, also due to its design, high temperatures are still possible on cloudy days! Your choice, bake sweet potatoes in less than an hour, or hotdogs in 28 minutes! They were a bit toasty, so 23 minutes would have been about right. Its performance will truly astound you.
See how much fun you can have with your GoSun. See it below in action.
The unit only weighs about 6 pounds and can easily be strapped to a backpack. The reflectors and tube are easy to clean up and keep at the ready.
So, go solar cook with the GoSun and have some fun. While the food is cooking, and if you have some youngsters around, educational kits for WindPower are a great way to pass the time and actually teach/learn something.
If you do not have a solar oven or solar cooker in your “bug out” bag yet, it is a worthwhile consideration. Many solar ovens and cookers, especially the compact, portable panel models, can be a reasonable purchase (some for less than $100). There are many plans also available if you want to try constructing your own.
As far as that goes, many great survival kits and packages are now available at fair prices. In an emergency, catastrophe, or survival situation, there may not time to locate that “needle and thread kit” that you took out of your bag to fix torn trousers, etc. Get a commercial kit, keep it in a known place, don’t move it around, and you will be better prepared for whatever happens, even if it is just a short power outage. And that’s why it’s called “prepping”.