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Sure, we all enjoy the warmth and joy that Summer often brings us. But, for many of us here in Pennsylvania, Autumn is the signal for the upcoming hunting season. Not everyone is headed out into the woods for game, so this is dedicated to those who like a short hike, or maybe do some camping on an “Indian Summer” day or weekend. Breaking out the solar oven to make some stew is a fun goal.
In our area, campfires will be aglow many nights in the near future, and even in many residential backyards. Lots of folks will attempt to cook food over these smokey fires without even considering the multitudes across the globe that do that daily to feed their families. “Preppers” usually have a better grasp of that whole concept. That’s why solar cooking can help everyone.
With lots of sunny Fall days ahead, this time of year is wonderful for solar cooking. Today we’re showing you our recipe for solar beef stew. More care is needed to refocus the oven and usually a little more cooking time, since the sun’s rays are longer and the angle lower. But, rest assured, your solar oven will still work very well without using wood or any fossil fuels to cook a great meal.
So, here’s our recipe for a simple and delicious solar beef stew:
Just thoroughly mix this altogether in the 3 quart stoneware pot: 1, 2-2 1/2 lb pkg of stew meat, 1 chopped medium onion, 1-1 celery stalks, 1-2 carrots, 2 cubed small potatoes, 1/4 cup of beef broth,1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 1/2 tsp red pepper (or black), 1 tsp paprika, 2 tbsp olive oil (or cooking oil), 1 tsp worcestershire sauce, 1 small can of cream of mushroom soup. Let stand alone in good sunshine for about 6 hours. Refocus the oven periodically to keep temperature up and cooking time shorter.
And, don’t forget the goodies & go-alongs! Fall is a great time to make various breads, muffins and cakes in your oven.
As an avid solar chef, sometimes it is really difficult to find that time for your solar- powered passion. Then, once you have found a few hours on a sunny day to create your newest delectable solar cuisine, it seems like the day just flew bye. It did! So, the answer is to “milk” out that time, that is; make the most of it. This way, everyone will have a better time.
To better utilize this cooking “event”, try taking only a few minutes during the week to plan your solar meals. It might be a weekday or the weekend when you do this. It will depend on your schedule. We are all busy people these days. Remember to jot down with the planned meal, any essential ingredients that you may need to pick up at the market. If you already like to cook, solar or otherwise, your cabinets and refrigerator are probably stocked with most needed items. Also, as mentioned in our previous posts, consider checking the weather report for the week to better plan your set up time for the solar cooking.
One other way to enhance the solar cooking day is to consider the solar ovens to be used and know how many will be at the table. If you have more than one oven or cooker, you can cook up a storm! Of course, depending on the other factors we have mentioned, which solar cooker you use for what food, can make a difference.
For those survival enthusiasts who cannot get enough “milk”, try out this stuff to get you through it.
What a great old song! It makes you feel like dancing! Oops, (another great oldie) another unintended pun. But, these feelings arise when you are in your element and busy solar cooking. What is better than having all your ingredients together and setting up the solar cooker(s) on a beautiful sunny day? Sure, it can be Winter and cold outside, a bit breezy or maybe even a little cloudy, but the serious solar chef is dauntless under these conditions. The solar meal must be made! The Solar Flare parabolic style solar cooker is a great little solar cooker design. Very light and extremely simple to set up, the Solar Flares (recommend you use 2) can make a decent amount of food for a few people. You can use it camping or hiking, and be able to enjoy warm food, maybe some soup and veggies, when you stop to eat. The Solar Flare heats up very quickly in good sunshine.
Yes, no matter the season, as long as it is a sunny day, it is the right season for solar cooking. Just Fall into the fun!
These commercial solar cookers make the solar chef happier, since they are often easy to set up and transport by backpack, RV, camper or donkey! The Solavore only weighs about 10 pounds and can easily be strapped on a backpack. It makes a lot of food and, like the other solar cookers, can be used year round.
So, get out there and start solar cooking to do your part to save our earth! Anytime there’s sunshine will do!
And, by the way, in case you are somewhere and you really do feel the Earth Moving Under Your Feet, you may want to check this out: Surviving an Earthquake
We have mentioned this in prior posts, but since a member of our solar cooking group recently brought it to our attention, it’s a good topic to revisit.
THE WEATHER. Certainly you’ve heard the one about the weatherman having the best job in the world since he never has to worry about getting the forecast right. Well, those of us who have done all the prep work to get our solar meal ready often find ourselves at odds with him, right? Sure, a “partly cloudy” day can mean 20% cloud cover, or 60%, so your cooking time for a box cooker can vary a great deal under those “predictions”. Sometimes storm clouds appear much faster than anyone anticipates.
So, what’s the solar chef to do? Well, do your best. Make it a habit to watch your local nightly weather report. Want something even better? If you have a smart phone, try downloading a free app. Yes, like most things, some are better than others. PCMag.com recently did a great review of weather apps, and is a worthwhile read. No phone ? If you have access to a computer and the Internet, of course you can check out the apps and numerous sites in that way. We use a few and can recommend them: “weather underground”,” the weather channel”, and “weatherbug”. Each site has its various attributes, advantages and disadvantages. Some, and we’re not just including the 3 sites mentioned, are large and more technical sites. This affects download times and your device, and ultimately, your time.
In any case, whatever site you decide to use, we suggest getting one with a clear local radar picture. Why, you ask? Well, depending on how much time you have to contribute to your solar cooking, on a particular day, having some idea of how close a rain, snow or windstorm might be to your cooking site, is a good thing to know. Essentially, a weather radar picture will affect your planning /cooking schedule.
If you are hiking and camping, or are the survivalist type, you may already be prepared for oncoming bad weather. A good emergency kit or backpack should always contain a decent weather radio. This tool, will help keep you out of danger, and may allow for your uninterrupted solar cooking on the trail. Of course, the weather radio will still be a handy item wherever you do your solar cooking; the beach, backyard, or patio.
Some folks sometimes forget that, although the elements of rain, snow, wind & hail can affect your cooking, the seasons do not usually matter. Only a sunny day is needed for solar cooking. Check out this video from January.
Just remember to include the weather in your thoughts, before you set up your solar oven for the day. Weather it’s just passing clouds, a few raindrops or a tornado, it can affect your solar cooking fun 😉
Some folks use a number of solar ovens and solar cookers in combination on a good sunny day. That way, they can cook and prepare the food for storage, or near future consumption or freezing it.
For today’s menu, we simply used the GoSun Solar Stove to bake the Italian hot sausage with peppers, onions and mushrooms.
Sometimes the food comes out of the solar ovens so well, you feel like applauding!
So, crank up your solar cooking by using more than one cooker to make great meals. If you fail to crank up solar cooking, then try a crank radio or flashlight. They can help you when the power fails.
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:
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.