It is hot and sticky here – only low 80s, but humid. This afternoon we should have rain, but in the meantime the sun is shining and the very last thing I feel like doing is putting any dinner on anywhere near the house. We’re out of propane for the grill, and let’s be honest, it isn’t like it is local, homegrown propane. What’s a girl who likes dinner to do except move it outside? And my favorite way is out into to my solar oven.
I’ve made a lot of solar ovens over the years, and they all worked to one degree or another, so I’m kind of embarassed how much I love my Global Sun Oven, which, after all cost money (or would have if I hadn’t bartered for it). But it gets hotter faster, stays hotter longer, and best of all, doesn’t melt in the rain like most of my solar ovens. This is good, because as we all know, I’m kind of a slacker.
That said, however, I’ve eaten an awful lot of food in homemade solar ovens and it came out just fine. For those of us living in the north, now is peak season for solar cooking, and we might as well keep the heat out of the house and cook for free. Here’s a video that shows a homemade model and a chicken cooking:
Here’s how to make one homemade version that really does seem to work well even in my climate:
Solar cooking isn’t just good here – solar cookers make a huge difference for impoverished women who have to spend a lot of their time seeking firewood, who suffer from insufficient access or high cost access gas for cooking. Here’s more on that from a company that is trying to expand solar cooker access:
We cook just about anything you could imagine putting in a crockpot in the sun – beans, grains, stews, soups, anything. And when nothing else is in there it can be pre-heating water and heating it up for tea to put in a thermos for that evening.
My friend Chile is the most expert solar cooker I know – unlike me who only uses hers for five months a year, she can use it all the time in Tucson. I trust her advice – and I’ve been to her house and her cooking is fantabulous, and I never go wrong with her recipes.
Suggestions for getting started or troubleshooting your solar cooking: http://chilechews.blogspot.com/search/label/solar%20cooking
Awesome solar cooking resources: http://chilechews.blogspot.com/2009/06/solar-cooking-resources.html
Super fantabulous solar cooker recipes: http://chilechews.blogspot.com/2009/06/menu-recipes-for-solar-cooking-demo.html
To make sure you absolutely definitely follow the linkage, I’m including one of them here:
Garlicky breadsticks in a solar oven:
2 tsp yeast
2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup warm water (~110 degrees)
1 cup whole wheat flour + more for kneading (I prefer to use the lighter whole white wheat.)
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp granulated onion (or onion powder)
1/8 tsp black pepper
Mix the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl.
Stir in the warm water until the yeast and sugar dissolve.
Let sit in a warm place for 10 minutes until the mixture is foamy.
Combine the flour and seasonings.
Add to the yeast mixture and stir until smooth.
Turn out onto a floured board and knead until the dough forms a soft ball that is no longer sticky. Be careful not to knead in so much flour that the dough becomes stiff.
Cut into 12 pieces and roll out into long thin breadsticks.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and place breadsticks on them.
Cover with a dishtowel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
Preheat a standard oven to 400 degrees and bake 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
Preheat solar ovens and check after 15-20 minutes depending on your conditions.
Oh, and a big thanks to my friend Bernard who pointed out that you can hardboil eggs in a solar cooker – without any water! Who knew?