I’ve been cooking with the solar oven. Here’s a log of how it’s been going.
Here are the pots that I’ve used in the oven so far
Potatoes and Apples
The first solar potatoes were amazing. I pierced 3 whole organic potatoes and put them in the big pot for 3 hours. It was a pretty sunny day in early June and they were in from around 9am-noon. They were cooked perfectly.
As soon as those potatoes were done, I put 2 more in the pot and also included two organic Empire apples. The apples were cored, with sugar, cinnamon and Earth Balance where the core used to be. They were in from around 1pm until 5:30pm and nothing really cooked all the way. Obviously, the sun wasn’t as kicking for most of the time because it was later in the day. But there were also a lot of passing clouds and the reflector panel ended up getting blown down because of the wind. I skimped on the construction of this oven because I wanted it to be a quick and dirty experiment, but I really should have paid more attention to how the reflector would stay up because it’s been the only source of trouble so far. It’s also possible that I overloaded the pot, but I don’t think so. The apples were edible, but the potatoes had to be cooked more in the house before they could be eaten.
Split Pea Soup
I spray painted a Mason jar with flat black paint and cooked split-pea soup in it. I have read that I should try to find paint that specifically says “non-toxic when dry”, but I couldn’t find anything. I painted one with watercolor paint from a tube at my studio, but I forgot it there when soup-time came so I just spray painted the one shown above instead. The paint says it’s good for children’s toys, so how bad can it be – especially since it’s only on the outside of the jar. All I put in the jar was a chopped up small potato, 1 cup of split peas, a teaspoon of organic Better Than Bouillon (I love that stuff), a bay leaf, and then I filled it to within an inch of the top with hot water from the tap (which is filtered). It was in the oven on a very sunny and hot day from noon until around 5pm. I think it would have been perfect except that the cover/reflector blew shut at some point during the cooking! So, the peas and potatoes were undercooked. I think the cover had been down for a while. 10 minutes of simmering on the stove and it was good to go. I wanted to keep it simple, but I’d probably put sauteed onions and garlic in next time. And carrot pieces. And maybe some Yves vegetarian Canadian Bacon. We’ve done that before and it’s good.
Update: I made the pea soup again and with 3 hours of intense sun it was cooked this time. It was probably done after 2 hours but I like my pea soup with the peas almost completely dissolved so I was happy.
I didn’t mention it earlier, but don’t tighten the cap on a jar when cooking with it. A lot of pressure builds up in the jar, so (1) a canning (Mason, Ball, etc) jar is better than a pickle jar; and (2) either put the cap on loosely or poke a little hole in the lid.
Tried it today in the metal pot and it worked great! I used the simple recipe below. It was in the very hot sun from 10am to 1pm. Dorrie said that it was probably done earlier than that and I think that’s true. Maybe just 2 hours would have been fine. It seems to be hard to overcook things in the solar oven, though, so 3 hours was also fine. The cake totally stuck to the pan, even though I oiled it first. Oh well – it’s a weird pan to bake a cake in I guess. We’ll probably oil and flour the pan next time. As far as the recipe goes, you just mix the dry stuff, then dump in the wet stuff. It doesn’t get easier. Prep time was about 15 minutes.
1-1/2 c flour 1 c sugar 5 T cocoa 1 t baking soda 1 tsp salt 6 tbsp oil 1 T white viengear 1 t vanilla 1 c water
Out came the cake, in went the garlic bulb with extra virgin olive oil poured over it. It was in from noon until around 5pm on a really sunny and hot day. It came out perfectly roasted. The bulb was put in a tiny stoneware dish that’s designed for roasting garlic, but instead of putting the bell-shaped stoneware cover on it, I put the dish directly on the oven’s cookie sheet base and placed a spray-painted can over it. (The can is one of the large Goya bean cans in case you can’t tell from the photo.)
I put sliced zucchini, summer squash, mushrooms and red pepper in the big black pot from 1pm to 5pm in extreme sun today. I put some italian seasoning, salt and olive oil on top before cooking. This is a photo of the vegetables with quinoa, sauteed onions and garlic, and Annie’s Goddess Dressing on a spinach tortilla. Awesome.
To be Continued
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