Saturday, May 29, 2010

Solar Oven Cooking - A week in review

I didn't set out to do a week of solar oven cooking...it just happened.  My friend offered her solar oven for me to try out.  The company she had bought hers from, Solar Oven Society,  was sold out from sending all of the ones they had in stock to Haiti after the earthquake. Considering it was as hot as Haiti earlier this week in MN, I took her up on it.  And I fell in love.

My oven is always going.  Literally.  Pretty much every day I'm making something good to eat, be it for the blog or for my family to keep them alive.  You know...it's like pets.  You gotta feed them or you hear about it.  Well, in the summer that gets hot!  But we gotta eat and my husband is diabetic so he needs to eat good protein.  I know I've got the crock pot but I have so little counter space that bringing the crock pot out is a huge PITA. (Literally, I will have to put up pics of my beautiful but old school circa 1913 kitchen, complete with original farm sink!)

So enter in the solar oven. Like I mentioned before, the one I used was purchased but if you are crafty and motivated you can even make your own.  I am not that person. lol

But in case you are that person, here are a few links:

1.  http://www.ehow.com/how_2083_make-solar-oven.html 
2.  http://www.solarnow.org/pizzabx.htm
3.  http://solarcooking.org/plans/

Now here is the real question.  Does it really work?  Does the food taste funky or is this something you could really serve to a guest?  You be the judge.  This Chicken with Rhubarb-Lime Sauce looks pretty darn yummy to me.
  And then there is the Moroccan Meatloaf that I made:
And of course there was the rhubarb crumble, seen here during cooking and after:
All in all this week I cooked pretty much everything under the sun.  Literally. ;)  But I made black eyed peas, refritos, corn bread, chicken, crumble,  chocolate cobbler (twice mind you...that one was GOOD), pork mole,  and even whole wheat yeast bread!

Some things to keep in mind when cooking with your solar oven:

1.  You will need A LOT less water than you think.  Because there is no evaporation you need little to no additional water when cooking things like meats and veggies or rice and beans.  This is not true however when you are baking with the solar oven.  On that one you should really stick the the recipe.

2.  Like when using your crock pot, solar oven cooking takes some planning ahead.  Things can take a bit longer, depending on the strength of the sun and how powerful your oven is.  Using things like the reflectors I used this week help a lot!  I was able to get the oven to right around 350 and hold it steady for quite a bit.

3.  It will take trial and error.  Lucky for me, I learn quick and can adapt.  But I now know that beans cook a lot faster than I thought...especially when you add a bit of baking soda.  So I made refritos instead of just the black eyed pea and zucchini cold salad that I made the night I also made the pork mole.

4.  You need to plan your cooking around when the sun is the hottest, meaning that you should really use the 10-2 time frame for cooking for best results.  Me, I pushed it and usually cooked from 12-4 or 5.  But I wouldn't plan on putting a meatloaf in at 4 and cooking at 6.  It just ain't gonna happen.

But most of all, I have to say that for a little investment it's a great product and cooking tool.  I loved the food I was able to create and it took no more effort than my normal cooking did...other than me looking like a fool trying to take pics.  I am NOT a photographer.  But I'm working on it.  I hope that my week long experiment with the solar oven has given you something to think about and maybe even something to try.  It's good for your energy bill and good for the environment too.  It was also a great tool for me to use to talk about energy and heat with my oldest.  He seemed to get it too because when he asked his friend to play on Wednesday and his friend wanted to play video games my Monkey said they could only play for a bit because too much energy use was bad for the environment.  At least I can't question where he gets it from. lol

~Amy

ETA: Thank you Lisa for catching the typos.  Gosh am I good at those! lol

3 comments:

The Wife said...

Very cool idea. We did these in school with my students.

Robert Kaufer said...

Cooking in a solar oven is for men too. Real Men cook with the sun.

Robert Kaufer
Law and Health with Robert Kaufer

BR. said...

A good website but I can't find any contact.. If you are interested for a partnership (a link exchange or sharing some solar recipes), please visit my website: http://www.solarcookingatlas.com ;) Sunny regards. Romain

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