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Solar Cooking: Four Meals in the Four Corners

1 August 2009 1,874 views 3 Comments

When I noticed that Nancy and Jim have a solar oven, I was obsessed with having the chance to try it out. They use the Global Sun Oven, the best brand according to the sites that I read. It’s not cheap on the company website but I saw it for $240 on Amazon. You can also make your own sun oven if you are adventurous and handy.

bakinWhen cooking in a solar oven, it’s important to allow lots of time for it to cook. All we did today was mix together the ingredients for the cornbread recipe (below), put it into a pot, set the box out in the sun, and start pre-heating (it took only 1/2 hour to go up to 250 degrees).

Jim and Nancy don’t need air conditioning for most of the year because they live in Colorado but in the summer the house heats up during the day. It was great to have the option to cook outside and keep the house cool. Also, no cooking on the stove or in an oven saves money on electricity.

The cooking is all about the sun and the temperature of the air isn’t important. You can cook rice, beans, bake bread, soups, steam vegetables, etc. If the recipe calls for higher temperatures, just increase cooking time. This would be such a fun device to take car camping and have a hot meal waiting for you when you get back from hiking, fishing, etc.

me and viewWhen researching recipes to cook, a woman who plans to make something in her solar oven every day for a year started following me. I’m sure she’ll have some great recipes posted to her blog, Solar Oven Chef.

Nelson, who writes the Show Me Your Taco blog, tweeted: “Not solar but my dad would put cans of beans, ravioli, and other canned goods on the car engine block on long trips. We’d pull over after a couple of hours and have steamy meals at rest stops. This saved me money in college during road trips.” I’m definitely going to have to try car engine cooking the next time I take a long road trip. Thanks for the tip, Nelson!

ready in ovenCornbread a la Sol
Dry Ingredients:
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup corn flour
1 cup white flour
2 tablespoons baki
ng powder
3 tablespoons sugar

pinch salt

Liquid Ingredients:
1 egg
4 tablespoons oil

1 cup milk

Note: We added 1.5 cups fat free cheddar cheese, 3/4 c. Parmesan, and a 4 oz. can of diced green chiles into the mix.

Preheat the cooker for 1/2 hour until it reaches 250 degrees.

Blend the liquid ingredients together. Add the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into a 7 x 11 inch pan (we used a round metal cooking pan with a cover instead). Bakes in about an hour at 350 degrees — time will vary depending on temperature and location. Consider it done when small cracks appear to be running on top. We cooked it for about an hour.

corn bread n chiliSun Tea

Brewing your own sun tea is cheap, easy, and can be customized to your own taste. I was inspired to make sun tea back in Austin after noticing that Southern Vittles, one of the restaurants where we ate lunch, was brewing their own on the front porch.

A 1-2 gallon glass container with lid
Tap water
4-5 tea bags
The sun!
Sweetener (Optional – to be added later)

sun teaMake sure that your container has been adequately washed so that no germs contaminate the tea. Fill the container with lukewarm tap water. Next, add tea bags. If they have strings, leave them dangling and secure them with the lid. Carry it to a sunny spot outside or next to a south facing window. Let the tea brew for 12-48 hours, longer may be needed if you do not have access to enough direct sunlight. When the tea is fully brewed, pour it into a pitcher and add sweetener to taste.

Speaking of glass, and baking, I learned in the Durango railroad museum that Corning developed Pyrex, the first heat-resistant glass to make railroad signal lanterns in the early 1900′s. The glass for these lanterns needed to be able to withstand extremely high or low temperatures. As an experiment, the wife of one of the researchers successfully baked a cake in the new glass. In 1915, the company began selling the Pyrex pie dish for $0.69.

fettucine stirrersAnother cool thing I noticed at a coffee shop in Lake City was that they offer dry fettuccine to stir coffee instead of wooden stirrers. We thought this was a great ecological and cost savings idea — especially if the fettuccine stays strong while stirring (they said it does) and doesn’t impart a floury or gluey taste to your coffee drink. What do you think?

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  • halley claire

    The solar oven is so cool! I feel like I would get really impatient though.

  • double tonic

    The fettucine idea is brilliant.

    And even though I had lunch just 3 hours ago, a piece of cornbread and a glass of iced tea sound like the perfect afternoon snack.

    Your vacation looks like it was a blast!

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