Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sad Solar Cooking Saga

Solar Cooking Soup
I tearfully parted with my solar cooker, built from an old refrigerator, when I moved to my new apartment. I loved being able to bake without paying a cent, as running an oven uses quite a bit of electricity, and I'm always looking for ways to use less electricity.
I was sure I'd be up and running with a new solar cooker in my new yard-less place, had my plans all figured out, and then I moved in.

Well, I am have been was wish I would be am on hiatus from solar cooking.

Here's my sorry tale.

Solar cooking bread
Nearly the first day in our new apartment, even before all the boxes were unpacked, even before all our furniture was moved from our old home to the new one, I'd whipped up a batch of bread dough, eager to solar cook. I had a windshield reflector and was determined to put it to use as a solar cooker and bake my bread.
I didn't build a box solar cooker as I had planned to; I simply took a black loaf pan, put it inside a covered pyrex dish, positioned the windshield reflector around it and set it in the sun.
Not in my yard; I don't have a yard. I put it on communal property about 20 feet from the entrance to my house.
The bread baked pretty well; I was quite surprised. I hadn't expected it to work with so little black and such thick glass.

Encouraged by my initial success, I set about to make supper in the solar cooker. I put barley in my black pot, covered it with water, and set it in the sun to cook at 9 am. When I came to reposition the reflector at noon, the barley was fully cooked. I then added the rest of the makings for my mushroom barley soup, and then left it to cook some more.

My Beautiful Solar Cooker
Around 4 pm, I came to check if the soup was ready.
Alas, my soup was no more. My reflector was flat on the ground, smeared in something that looked suspiciously like mushroom barley soup. My black pot, bought especially for solar cooking, was gone. I looked all around for it, hoping that maybe someone kicked it over accidentally.
I spent at least an hour looking for my pot, even into the nearby dumpsters, but my pot was nowhere to be found. There is a bit of an issue with vandalism by the local teenage rebels; I've concluded that they stole my pot just for kicks (the same way that they stole a nearby street sign, just for kicks).

I now need to come up with a new way of solar cooking, a way to solar cook on my windowsills and minuscule entry/porch. I don't trust that my solar cooking apparatuses won't be stolen again if I leave them on public property.
Failed Solar Cooking

I don't have the money to buy a new black pot, otherwise I'd just repeat what I originally did, this time on my windowsill.

I tried using my cast iron pot instead of my solar cooking pot. Failed miserably. I needed something that heats up much quicker than my heavy heavy pot. That stinkin cast iron pot got hot on the outside but the inside remained stone cold. No go.

Solar cooking with socks and a fish tank

I'd read about cooking in glass jars painted black put inside clear cooking bags. Heat and water resistant black paint is expensive; I tried to find an alternative to this.

I used an upturned small fish tank we had lying around in lieu of a cooking bag, as I couldn't find any cooking bags large enough to hold my pots. I positioned the windshield reflector around the fish tank
I used glass jars covered in old clean black socks and managed to cook a pretty good beefaroni in my solar cooker! (Note to self- noodles don't taste amazing in a solar cooker, but tomato sauce with ground chicken, oh boy- delicious!)

I've since tried wrapping a whole chicken in black fabric and putting that in the fish tank along with a sock covered jar filled with raw rice and water, but it was a no go.

I'm annoyed at all these hits and misses. I don't like counting on something to work for supper, only to discover that it failed. I've been getting my hopes up for naught; I need a surefire way to make sure that my food will cook. I need a real solar cooker. I need to invest some money in solar cooking, buying a new pot and a piece of glass so that I can build the original solar cooker I had intended on making.

So now I'm on hiatus until I get the necessary equipment to build a real solar cooker. One that will work consistently so I don't get disappointed.

That's my sorry solar cooking saga.
It was all because they stole my pot.

1 comment:

  1. Thrift stores are great for black pots. Black Graniteware. $5.


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