Solar Cooking – Make it an Outdoor Friendly Affair
It’s easy enough to set up most solar ovens by oneself. In fact, commercial sellers of the various models often extol the benefits of their models’ lightweight, suitcase design, or easy-carry handle features. This is quite true. However, it is just plain easier and a lot more fun when others become involved with the solar meal preparation.
For example, last Sunday was a beautiful winter sunshiny, windless cooking day. Although it was only 6 degrees when I set up the sun oven out in the snow, it preheated to 175 degrees in just 22 minutes! Remember, all you need is strong solar radiation ( a nice clear day). I had checked the weather report the night before and had assembled the ingredients for the two dishes: banana bread and a pot of rice.
Church was early, and, since I also had to work later in the day, time was critical. About 10am I popped both dishes into the solar oven. Due to the long finger-like shadows of surrounding maple trees, I found it necessary to move the oven into the yard to avoid them. Then I used a little snow to level up the oven and away I went to catch up on my “honey-do” list. You know, like changing the furnace filter, and hanging new curtains. Anyway, since my wife was working, and my sciatica was on the up-rise, the thought kept coming to me as to how much easier and fun solar cooking is when you have someone else around…even if they might be criticizing your methods.
When you’re hurting, opening several doors to get outside, carry out the oven (around 20 lbs), trudge through the snow-covered yard, stoop over, load the oven chamber, close everything up and focus it, was almost enough to thwart me from my goal. Fortunately there was no wind, which made setting up the reflectors easy. I thought, “how nice it would’ve been to have a helping hand.”
Later, I checked the solar cooker at 11:45 am. The oven temperature was at 240 degrees, while outside it had increased to a “balmy” 18 degrees. The banana bread was about done and the rice was nearly “there” too. By 1:00pm everything was ready. Actually, some friends had stopped in about the time I brought everything inside. We all enjoyed the banana bread with some coffee. Too bad no one was around earlier to really appreciate the up close and personal fun that solar cooking represents. The moral is: have the get-together begin when you’re preparing the meal. Make solar cooking a friendly affair!