Sunday, April 13, 2008

Solar cooking

We used our Global Sun Oven twice this weekend. Call me a peak oil nerd, but I'm so excited! We purchased ours from LATOC last year and haven't used it much since... until we bought Cooking with Sunshine this week. Now, we have a renewed commitment to solar cooking. We have decided to cook with the Sun Oven at least once per week (weather permitting).

The GSO takes a little getting used to, because you need to set it up, angle it correctly, and then use really dark cookware to cook. You have to plan ahead - you might need to prepare dinner after lunch or breakfast and pop it in right then. You can still prepare a meal in 15 - 30 minutes, but then it will take 2 - 5 hours to cook, depending on what the meal is. The Sun Oven only works under certain conditions - if the sun will be out long enough and high enough. Here in OKC that's probably sunny days in April - October, plus a little while longer when certain dishes such as quiches and cookies will still cook.

This weekend we re-heated lasagna for lunch (took about 1.5 hours) and then cooked 5 large baked potatoes for a family dinner today (we had them in there about 6 hours, but they might have been done for a while). The lasagna was perfectly heated throughout and the potatoes were easily mashed with a fork.

The reason that we bought the Sun Oven was to have an alternate way to cook when TSHTF (intermittent blackouts or widespread power failures, or the necessity to evacuate to places unknown) and also to be able to cook without carbon emissions. I have several projects this year to reduce my carbon emissions, and this is one of them.

However, I have found a few other reasons to cook more often with the Sun Oven.

1. One nice thing about the Sun Oven is that it has no timer. It doesn't burn food, amazingly, so you can just put your meal in, making sure to have enough time to cook it, and let it stay in there. It will keep warm without burning.

2. Cooking with the Sun Oven doesn't heat up the house in the middle of summer. So I don't have to feel guilty about cooking a lasagna or banana bread and getting uncomfortable and using more AC than I should. Technically shouldn't be using any AC, but I'm not to that point yet :).

3. My young son tends to get very grumpy right when I want to cook dinner. If I can prepare the meal when he is napping, and pop it in the Sun Oven and forget about it, (well actually you have to adjust the angle to the sun periodically, but still), it saves me a huge headache!

4. I have a home business, with my clients often coming in right before dinner. So, instead of rushing around trying to cook after they're gone, or having a cold meal that will need to be microwaved, I can put the meal in the Sun Oven and let it cook while they are in session.

5. Did I mention it operates without electricity, or any fuel, and gives off no carbon emissions?

Eventually, we would like to get a super efficient woodstove cooker, which we can use in the winter to heat and cook, and then we can use the Sun Oven in the summer to cook when we don't want any heat. Wish me luck on the woodstove - it costs a heck of a lot more than the Sun Oven.

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