Posts Tagged ‘solar cooking’
What can’t you cook with your solar stove? Maybe you’ve found yourself “lost” with where to go with your solar cooking. You have tried this dish or that one, baked breads and some soup. So , what’s next?
After all, there are so many ways to use one. Also, you should consider the different solar cooker designs. Is it parabolic, evacuated tube, box cooker or panel cooker? If you have several models, then the fun really begins with your solar powered ovens. Maybe you use several and prepare a great solar feast for family and friends. Of course, that’s another relevant concern; the number of folks that need fed on that bright sunny solar cooking day.
Use your solar cookers in different ways. You can bake, boil, steam and dehydrate many kinds of food with them. Perhaps you have concerns over healthy food choices, or want to prepare vegetarian meals. You can do this with a solar oven. Most double box solar ovens work similarly to a slow cooker (crock pot). It may take hours to to prepare solar cuisine in them, but usually, it’s well worth the wait, because the foods cook in their own juices. The result is great flavor!
With a parabolic cooker, your soup or meal may take only a few minutes! You will need to be a wary solar chef and keep your eye on the meal as the sun rapidly cooks the food. The evacuated tube model cookers are wonderful. Your meal usually doesn’t take more than an hour to prepare in good sunshine. Hotdogs, vegetables, and other light foods may only need a 30 minutes or less. You can easily warm up leftovers in these very efficient models. The really great thing about your outdoor solar oven, is that it becomes your way of being “green”, without much effort.
Portability is another important factor in using your solar cookers. Some box cookers weigh many times as much as a few evacuated tube cookers and panel cookers. So, if you are hiking or camping, weight may become an issue. Maybe you are a survivalist; a “prepper”. So many of these folks are using solar cookers and solar ovens because they realize how practical they are in an emergency situation.
Oh yes, it’s easy to get confused about the direction you want to take with solar cooking. Why? Because there are just so many wonderful choices! Follow your own path to making some great solar dishes. If you really get “lost” out there, maybe you only need a better compass.
It is a great sunny day, so let’s cook up a batch of food to last a few days. In the All American Solar Oven, we’ve prepared another South of the Border favorite, Mexican Rice. Since the Sun Oven’s chamber is large enough, and it reaches 300 degree temperatures in a short time, rice of any kind is always a good option.
Mexican Rice recipe: Adapted from “Adventures in Solar Cooking”, by Jackass Jill (Spanish Rice)
Mix all in a bowl: 1/2 cup water, 1 Tbsp chili flakes, 1 bell pepper diced, 1/2 onion diced, 1 cup of long grain white rice, 2 small celery stalks diced, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp salt (optional), 1 large Tbsp chili powder, 1 small can of diced tomatoes with green chiles , 1 can tomato sauce (16 oz) 1 tsp oregano, 1 Tbsp minced garlic, 1 lb of extra lean ground beef. Once thoroughly mixed, put into the 3-quart dutch oven and place into solar oven.
In good sunshine, this will be ready in 4 hours. The day we prepared it, we had some passing clouds and it took about 5 1/2 hours. To make this really tasty, we sprinkled some “fiesta cheese” on top of the rice about 1/2 hour before removing it from the oven. However, you can use the cheese of your choice, or just eliminate it altogether. We do recommend getting the best extra lean ground beef for the dish to make it less greasy.
This meal came out great for us. We were able to share some with friends and family and are already being asked to make another batch. If you are skeptical of solar cooking, or don’t want to spend money for a commercially available solar cooker, without more information, try picking up a book about it. There are several inexpensive and good ones available here.
Using your Solavore Sport on a bright sunny day, can yield some festive results. Today’s menu included Mexican Stuffed Peppers and Brownies Plus. In the nice Summer sunshine, the Solavore easily attained a 275 F temperature and was able to bake our two selections in just under 4 hours.
The Brownies Plus, were compliments of a Betty Crocker mix, with the addition of just 2 tablespoons of raisins, a dash of crushed red pepper and a handful of chopped walnuts. They baked in 1.5 hours. Our guests loved them!
The stuffed pepper recipe is adapted from a wonderful solar cookbook,Solar Cooking for Home & Camp, by Linda Yaffe (“Tex-Mex Stuffed Peppers”), and is simple to create. Here it is:
Recipe for Mexican Stuffed Peppers: Mix: 1 clove garlic chopped, or 1 tbsp minced garlic, 1 small onion coarsely or finely chopped (your preference), 2 cans (14oz) refried beans (about 30oz), 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1/2 tsp salt (recipe, but we don’t normally cook with salt), 1 tbsp Italian seasoning, 4 ounces of Monterrey Jack cheese, finely diced.(mix altogether in bowl), core 4 large bell peppers sliced in half lengthwise. Stuff peppers with the mixture, place into oiled 3 qt pot and then pour a can (12 oz) of enchilada sauce over it all and cover with lid (Old El Paso does a good job). In decent sunshine, your peppers will be ready in about 4 hours. This is a filling meal and should satisfy your vegetarian friends.
Hope you enjoy these solar-made dishes as much as we did with our guests.
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.
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.
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.
On a nice sunny day, you have your solar oven out, set up and it is busy cooking lunch or dinner.
You have a few hours on your hands and you know you can still be productive and finish some of the office work you didn’t get done because of some upset in normal routine.
On the market today, are a nice selection of compact solar chargers. They work great to supplement power, especially to your laptop computer or tablet. This way, you maximize your time and place in the sun. While the solar oven makes your meal, you can be occupied on the laptop or tablet, doing some work that you have put off, but badly needs catching up on. The compact, folding panel style solar charger kits are very helpful. Use them and avoid draining the device’s battery. We all know how easy it is for that to happen, right?
It can definitely set your mind at ease. You can keep on working on a letter, photo gallery, or social media, while not worrying about losing content, or a dead battery. Best of all, you get to enjoy a fossil free cooked meal from your solar cooker. That’s a great way to top off your day and the extra efforts you made working while out of the office.
Get a solar charger today, to help maximize your out of office efforts while enjoying your passion for solar cooking.
Solar cooking is moving right along. There are so many different models in a variety of functional categories available to the budding or experienced solar chef.
Panel cookers, as opposed to other types, offer a lightweight and usually inexpensive way to either add another solar cooker to your existing collection, or, are great for the beginner.
The SunFlair Solar Oven is an excellent one to consider for first or future use. It folds flat and does not take up much space. Its construction material is also a big plus, as this adds to its durability, which can be a problem for panel-style solar cookers.
Watch this video. It demonstrates the ease of use of this solar cooking gem.
The SunFlair panel cooker goes anywhere, folds flat and isn’t much bigger than a file folder.
So, consider adding a little flair to your solar cooking experience. Try the SunFlair solar cooker.
Check out this simple but effective solar cooker. Give us a sunny day and we’ll show you how well 2 of these ovens operate together to prepare delicious meals without the use of any fossil fuels. Baked potatoes, soups and meat can all be cooked in this highly portable, durable solar appliance.