Friday, October 31, 2008

Maps Gauging the Sun's Intesity

With solar cooking, it isn't the ambient air temperature that we use to cook with; it is the intesity of the solar light and radiation hitting the earth.

These maps measure the UV index.

This is a satellite photo that measures IR.

You might have to copy and paste the URL for this link.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Solar Cooking Principle #3- poster

I offer this poster free for anyone who wants to teach solar cooking to others. The graphics are very simple, so I don't mind if you would like to use this as a template and create your own poster.
I do ask that you keep my copyright statement on the page, if you use this poster.

Solar Cooking Principle #2- poster

I offer this poster free for anyone who wants to teach solar cooking to others. The graphics are very simple, so I don't mind if you would like to use this as a template and create your own poster.
I do ask that you keep my copyright statement on the page, if you use this poster.

Solar Cooking Principle #1- poster

I offer this poster free for anyone who wants to teach solar cooking to others. The graphics are very simple, so I don't mind if you would like to use this as a template and create your own poster.
I do ask that you keep my copyright statement on the page, if you use this poster.

SAMFA Eco Fair 2008 - conclusion

We had a wonderful turn out for this fair; and to my delight, there were lots of folks who had already heard of solar cooking, but they didn't have enough information to seriously consider doing this on a full scale.

I had several Girl Scout leaders who were so excited to see this in such a large operation, or some had seen this done at training seminars but in really small cookers. All the scout leaders were already planning how to incorporate this into their meetings. Some of the leaders were even considering having me come to do seminars for them.

Several home school families were there and thrilled with the science that could be taught from the soda bottle pasteurization unit. One 10 year old boy had already tried to build a solar oven, but did not achieve the temperatures he knew should be there... so I talked to him and his parents on ways to improve his cookers and ovens.

Of course, there were folks who were stunned at the notion, and amazed at the fact I saved between $50-$75 a month off my electric bill this summer just by cooking outside.

Yes, it was a truly wonderful day, and I had a great time. I will do this again next year at the Eco Fair, and any other opportunity I get.

SAMFA Eco Fair 2008 part 2

I cooked my lunch (left over calzone from eating out the night before) in the roaster oven. It is behind the twin steel bowls, so you can't see it in this photo.

I just had water or thermometers in all the other cookers, before lunch. Trying to carry a bunch of food and then carry that hot food home was not something I wanted to do that day.

After lunch, I did cook half strips of bacon in the roaster oven and the twin steel bowls. That was a big hit! The Roaster oven stayed between 225F and 250F, so the bacon would get done in 15-20 minutes. The roaster kept its heat even with my opening it every 20 minutes to pull cooked bacon out and put new in. Oh, I used camping plates for the cooking vessel in these cookers.

Unfortunately, they had me at the top of a slope, so my cookers were not level, and I was too distracted to take this into account. The Cookit variation didn't get the water hot until after lunch, when normally this takes only 90 minutes to get 3 liters of fluids to 150F. Towards the end of the day, it got that 3 liters of water almost to boiling.

The little panel cooker in the front of this photo is based on David Delaney's soda bottle water pasteurizer. Instead of a soda can, I used what I had on hand... a small bottle that contained Starbucks Frappacino, inside a thin cotton black sock. That worked beautifully! The top of the glass bottle was nestled inside the top of the soda bottle, so that I could remove the lid from the 2 liter bottle, pop a thermometer in to measure the temp of the water in the glass bottle, and not loose a lot of heat. This worked so well, that I might consider working with this more to create a water distillation type of unit. (Our city water contains half a ton of minerals, calcium, and salts that my body does not like. I drink lots of distilled or purified bottled water.)

What surprised me was the windshield shade funnel on its side... that kept 8 oz of water (in a camping cup) right at 200F for most of the day! Yes, that isn't much water, but needless to say... I will be using this more at home! It did tip over several times on the grass, so eventually, I set it on the 4 wheel dolly and that worked great. This cooker worked perfect on the slope, so now I know to secure it to a supporting board and lift the end of the board up to mimic the incline of the slope of the hill at the art museum. At 31degrees latitude, this works better laying down, where it works better sitting up like a funnel/cone at other latitudes.

I kept a camping cup of coffee on the table under a glass lid, and this kept the coffee hot for as long as it took to drink it!

SAMFA Eco Fair 2008

Saturday was the 2nd annual San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts Eco Fair and Family Fun Day.

I was there to promote Solar Cooking and the class I would be hosting the next weekend through Angelo State University's Continuing Studies Division.

The day was absolutely perfect! Clear skies, nice and cool (below 80F) until late in the afternoon.

I took these cookers with me:
My twin steel bowls with windshield shade
My shiny roaster oven with windshield shade
A third windshield shade shaped into a funnel, but set on its side
A CooKit variation made from 2 Pecan Sandies case boxes
A small box corner panel cooker with David Delaney's Soda Bottle water pasturizer

As an afterthought, my husband sent his 'Bass Fish' Thermometer with me... that is on the 4 wheel dolly in the back ground (top left corner).

The 'sandwich' sign stand had my posters on the 3 basic principles of Solar Cooking (you can find these in other posts) and a collection of photographs of different types of cookers.

I was busy talking to folks, so I only got pictures at the beginning of the day, before anyone was there.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Another Glorious Day!

I put the oven out at 1pm to heat up.

30 minutes later, I put in a new recipe: Whole Wheat & Wheat Germ Orange Cranberry coffee cake.

After it had been in the oven 1 hour, I turned the pan around, so that the front would get browning from the reflector.

At 4 pm, I snapped this shot and pulled it out.

Yes, it seems over done, but with the whole wheat flour and raw wheat germ, the recipe needed to cook longer to toast these ingredients.

Yes, it was quite yummy.
OH, and I am having much better luck with batter recipes, if I use parchment paper, instead of cooking spray, to prevent sticking.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Frozen to simmering in 2.5 hours

I've been fighting migraines for over a week now, and haven't felt like cooking much. Between the pharmacy switching one of my meds to a different generic and the hurricanes and cold fronts blowing through... I've been a zombie for a week.

I bought some frozen dinners this week, just to have some instant food in the house, when I don't have energy to actually cook. Today was absolutely perfect for solar cooking... no wind, no clouds, a very comfortable mid 80's air temp.

At 1: 30pm I put my roaster oven in the sun to heat; 30 minutes later, I got my food ready.

I grabbed my new Stansport Black Granite bowl (a bit of a disappointment, since it only holds one quart). Dumped a frozen Marie Calendar's Chicken Pot Pie into the bowl, put a glass lid on it and put that into the roaster oven. I readjusted the oven a couple of time through the cooking stage... the oven topped at almost 300F.

At 4pm, the roaster lid was completely covered in condensation, so I pulled the lid off and wiped it down; checked the inter temp of the pie (200 and simmering). I left the lid to the bowl off, and put it all back into the sun for a while to let the crust get crispy... I may have waited too long for that, but it looks beautiful!
OH, removing the roaster lid, dropped the interior temp by 50 degrees... gotta learn to not do that very much.
Added the next day: I left the pie in there for about 30 minutes longer, without the lid on the pot. The soft and gooey crust got beautifully crisp in that short time.
Yes, I will do this again! Effortless meals are a blessing when you don't feel like cooking.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Rainy Day Blahs and Future Plans

With the hurricanes in the gulf, we've had a very mild summer... for us, that is.

Instead of having 45 days straight of triple digit temperatures, we've had only a handful... which makes for a pleasant summer, but not so good for solar cooking. Maybe I should have taken this up (for the second time) sooner!

The news I have for now is that I will be offering a class on solar cooking through our local university's continuing education department.

And I will be doing demos at our local Eco Fair in October.

I am still waiting on a Stansport 8" granite/enamel bowl... since the retailer didn't have three in stock. I'll keep everyone posted on how well this works... as soon as I receive it.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

ARNie's Equipment

I am in the process of compiling all of my favorite equipment into this post.

As soon as I locate various online dealers for the things I use, I'll post them here.

Anchor Hocking and Pyrex Mixing Bowls in various sizes for glazers.

Wear Ever or Baker's Secret annodized, non-stick Baking Pans, 9" round cake pan, 9" Round Pie Pan, 9" Square cake pan

Steel 'Granite' Black Roaster- as an oven- lined with foil or not

My shiny steel roaster with a domed glass lid... I cannot find online anywhere.

Tempered glass lids for Crock Pots, Skillets, and pyrex stove top pots, in various sizes that I find at thrift shops and flea markets.

Reflector Supplies for Cookers
Mirrorized Plastic sheets for making panel cookers or reflectors for ovens
Sheets and rolls of various thickness and reflectivity

Where to Purchase Solar Cookers SHE Hot Pot: Aluminum Reflector, black steel pot, glass bowl and lid Solar Dome Parabolic style cooker, AND a glass Cooking Dome Global Sun Oven
Solar Cooking International's Marketplace page of cookers and supplies

Solar Cooking Nut- My Mentor

SCN has dozens of videos showing her techniques and methods for Solar Cooking. Her knowledge was invaluable for helping me to fine tune my own cookers and cooking methods.

Solar Cookers & Ovens- Links & Plans

Solar Cooking Links- Mega Lists

Experiments & Simple cookers for Kids or Classes
David Delaney's improved soda 2 liter bottle water pasturizer
Original Soda Bottle pasturizer
Super easy cooker for baking apple slices

How Solar Cooking Works- MUST READS
This is an excellent overview of Solar Cooking principles and methods
Several experitments and articles on improving Solar Cooking pots, glazers, and methods for creating the greenhouse effect.

Solar Cookers, not ovens
Modified Funnel Cooker
Unique Parabola Cooker
using Satelite dish for a cooker, and wonderful explanations of how it works
Plans for making your own parabola/parvati style cookers
This has numerous plans for Funnel and Prabola style cookers.

Solar Oven Plans & Articles
Interesting Box Oven made from an aluminum roasting pan
An awesome article on building and usind a Box Oven with flared reflectors
Basic Box oven, but larger than most
another Box Oven, but uses freezer bags for glazer

Misc. Solar Energy Links
Build It Solar-All things Solar Energy
Optimum orientation for Solar Panels
Angle of Solar Panels equals your Latitude
Green Power Science at YouTube

Friday, August 22, 2008

New Equipment!

I purchased a Wear Ever anodized non-stick cake pan... standard round cake pan 9 inches across.
It almost suspends inside a 4qt Anchor Hocking mixing bowl, so I placed the 2 cup Anchor Hocking bowl in the bottom of the larger bowl to act as a support.
Add a glass lid for a skillet, and this works very well.
I cooked a small tv dinner in this today. It took only 2 hours-from freezer to hot enough to eat- in my twin bowl cooker.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Chili cooked on Hazy Day- Recipe included!

Earlier this week I cooked 1 pound of Red Beans in two different pots with my panel and steel bowl cookers.

Yesterday, I wanted to make chili with part of those beans, but the day was really hazy. UV predictions were 9-10, but I'm guessing it was more like an 8.

So I put the beans straight from the fridge into the oblong granite pot, room temperature canned tomatoes, seasonings and a couple of beef bullion cubes. As I stepped outside to set up the panel cooker, I realized just how hazy it was. So, I thought I would experiment with the reduced UV.

I set the pot down on the ground to finesse the panel cooker, and in only a couple of minutes the lid was hot to the touch! I knew I could still cook.

I waited until the ingredients were 150F before adding the beef. I cubed it really small so that it would cook faster at the lower temps. I stirred the beef in making certain that all the meat had been nestled into the hot broth... again... Safe Food Handling Tyrant wanted to make certain that the beef got to 150 immediately.

I repositioned the cooker (as best as I could without much shadow), and at the end of 3.5 hours, I brought the pot in. It was still at 150F, which is 10 degrees above safe food holding temperature, but not hot enough to melt cheese. So, I set the pot on a burner for 5-7 minutes to come to boiling temp.

Added a handful of corn tortilla chips, cheese on top- Yummmy dinner!

Chili Recipe:

2 cups of beans in their own broth (this time I used Red beans, normally I use Pintos)
2 pounds (2 cups) of beef- cubed stew meat or ground beef
1 14oz can of HEB Chipoltle seasoned Tomatoes, about 1/4 cup of water to rinse can into pot.
2 teaspoons of dried onion flakes & cumin
1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder & dried cilantro
2 beef bullion cubes
General Notes:
Normally, I would use store bought beef broth, but with the reduced sun and lower temps, this would not be loosing any moisture to steam, and I didn't want this too soupy.
I did NOT salt this, nor did I add any pepper. The tomatoes were pretty spicy, and the chipoltle seasoning on the bacon inside the beans added some spice. The bullion cubes and the salted beans added enough sodium to this dish.

Set pot of veges out in sun until they are 150F, then add meat.

Cook for 3+ hours to blend the seasonings and cook the meat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Late Afternoon Focusing

These are photos of my twin steel bowl cooker late in the afternoon. I tip the bowls forward to capture more sun.

I have been trying to make the bowls, reflector assembly 'as bright as possible' when trying to focus the cooker to maximize the heat capturing potential.

To make sure the cooking vesel and glazing bowl are in sun, I look for a reflection of the reflector on the glass lid used for glazing.

Today, I took small bowls of navy beans straight from the freezer and in 3 hours the beans were ready to eat.

Sunny Cooking For a WEEK!

My husband saw a forecast that had us topping 100F for one week straight, so I'll be cooking every day, and freezing for rainy days.

Today's Entree:

Honey Whole Wheat, bacon, chedar cornbread, cooked in my stainless steel roaster solar oven.

Topped 250F and I left it out there for 2 full hours to make certain the bottom got cooked, even though the top browned a little more than what you would normally want. This is whole wheat and can handle the extra 'toasting.
After 1 1/2 hours, I rotated the pan so that the the front of the pan could get some extra sun.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hot Soup!

After I completed all my experiments, the sun was still high, so I dumped about 2 cups of soup into the same pot that had boiling water in it.

Within an hour, the soup had gone from 35-40F to 200F.

Yeah, I like my Steel Bowl Cooker.

Experiement Conclusion

At 12:30, I had to move the cooker out of the shade, and onto a bucket. I tipped it back slightly to capture more sunlight.

I put 2 cups of tap water out, again at 85F in the same configuration as the distilled water.

At 12:55, the water temp had climbed to 150F.

I didn't check this again for 45 minutes, and the water was up to 200F. I repositioned the cooker, to face the sun better.

At 2pm, the water was boiling.
Pros of this cooker:
I am pleased with this cooker, and its cooking capabilities.
It is definitely more 'permanent' than my cardboard panel cooker, and much easier to store.
The steel bowls are light weight and relatively inexpensive. The two bowls cost $10 each, and I will need a new reflector soon, so for about the price of a CooKit, I have a cooker that will last for years, instead of one season.
Finally, the bowls can be used for other things.
If you don't have a resturant supply store in your town, check my links for online stores where you can purchases these mixing bowls.
Cons of this cooker:
The interior of the cooking bowl will need a lot of protection to prevent scratches marring the surface.
I will need to experiment more to perfect the focusing of this cooker to maximize the solar capturing and heating potential. I may need to raise the pots higher for instance.
With a panel cooker, all the research has been done; you just set up the cooker and face it towards the sun.

Experiment Details

I set the cooker out, on the cement, at 11:30 am with 2 cups of distilled water.

By 12 noon, the temperature had gone from 85F to 150F. I turned the cooker a small amount to keep it focused on the sun.

By 12:30 pm, the temperature was up to 200F... when I brought that water in the house to make tea.

Experiments- This cooker Boils!

July 21, 2008, with a UV Index between 11-12, I did an official experiment with my twin steel bowl cooker.
I used:
* A 3 cup pot & a glass lid (that I removed the plastic handle)
* A pyrex mixing bowl
* On top of the Bowl is a lid from an old crock pot.
The pot sits on a black candle holder, to elevate it off the bottom of the bowl. That is the shiny surface in the bottom of the bowl.

The bowl sits on what I'm guessing was a plate stand or plant stand of some kind. Having the bowl in this stand allows me to tip the bowl- as the cooker must be tipped to catch the sun- and still keep the pot level.

More about the Steel Bowl Cooker

I used pinch style paper clips to attach the ends of the windshield shade to lip of the bottom bowl in the front.
I used a third clip at the back (where the depression is for the rear view mirror) to fill in that gap and get the shade to conform to the shape of the bowl better.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

3 pots in one day

Tuesday this week, I cooked three different things with three different cookers.
Ham and Taters
Navy & Vege soup
Lemon Blueberry (Whole Wheat) coffee cake

Steel Bowl Cooker

I took 2 steel mixing bowls, added a car reflector and created a solar cooker similar to a Parvati or a Parabolic cooker.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

ARNie's Roaster Solar Oven- details

I bought my stainless steel roaster at my local Target, and here it is listed at the Target Website... unfortunately... it is out of stock. I fear it may be discontinued. You might try writing to the company to find out who makes the roaster, and order it from them directly. The Roaster was in a clearance section with no box, and if it had any other packaging information, I threw it away long ago.

Stainless Steel Dome Roaster

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Attention in the Neighborhood

My husband told me that he saw one of our neighbors in a store recently and the neighbor asked, "What is all that STUFF in your front yard?"

He explained that they are solar cookers and ovens, but we have too many trees in the back yard to set them up there.
Today I baked a ginger bread in the roaster solar oven, then put my home made spaghetti sauce in there to cook. The panel cooker has a shallow dish with cubed beef for the pasta sauce.
No, I chickened out, and cooked the pasta indoors on the stove. I had frozen cheese stuffed ravioli that really needs a good rolling boil to cook without getting mushy.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Sweet Success!

After a couple of near successes earlier this week, I have found my equipment combo that works wonderfully!
  • My oblong shiny steel roaster with domed glass lid.
  • In a box stuffed with old cotton towels.
  • I added a layer of foil to the inside bottom of the roaster, because it was discolored and not so shiny from using it as a roaster.
  • Added two cake rakes to elevate the cooking vessel... and I may use other stands to elevate the vessel even more. Today I noticed a shadow on the cooking vessel if it got too near the front edge... so raising up a little more just might reduce the cooking time.... I'll post updates on this.
  • 8" x 8" charcoal gray/black WearEver baking pan.
  • Started cooking at 2:30 pm, pulled it out at 4:30 pm.
I set the oven out to heat up while I mixed up the batter. Same batter as the one I cooked earlier in the week.

By the time I got the batter mixed... and answered the phone... 30 minutes had passed and the oven was up towards 300, but lost almost 50 degrees when I removed the lid to place the coffee cake inside.
I went out after about 30 minutes and re-focused the oven.

Then got busy online, and lost track of time, so by the time I went back outside... 2 full hours had elapsed since putting the cake outside.

It was 'toothpick clean' done all the way around and all the way to the bottom!

The top was just starting to scorch, but since this was 100% whole wheat flour and wheat bran... a little extra toasting is a good thing... that is one of the reasons the coffee cake looks so dark brown.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Brownies or chocolate Rocks

These are the brownies from a box, that I substituted applesauce for the water.

The Dark spot on the left is where the top scorched just a bit.

The unfortunate fact is... once these cooled, they were hard as a rock. Does anyone know if boxed mixes have chemicals that react to radiation... like microwaves or solar heat. These were just as tough as something you over cooked in the microwave.

Although I didn't get a picture, the coffee cake I made from scratch the next day was much better.

I did goof and over compensate for the dried out brownies and added pineapple chunks to help add slow release moisture to the cake. I also put a lid on these to trap moisture.... and then didn't get to let the over heat up, nor did I let these cook as long.

The cake was a little under-done, or just really gooey. My next experiment will be to cook this recipe without the pineapple, and probably reduce the moisture, too.... but leave the lid on.

Today is looking like overcast, so my experiments will probably need to wait for tomorrow.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Some Success!

Yesterday, I repostitioned the roaster solar cooker after lunch and then went shopping.

I had put a 3 qt pot in that morning with 2 qts of water to see how hot I could get it. I dumped the most of the hot water on some weeds in the front yard, left 1/4 cup and put a lone chicken breast in with skin side up.

I got home to see the chicken golden brown! I quickly snapped this shot... before rushing in to devour the chicken... sorry... didn't take time to see how bad this shot was before eating the chicken.
The lesson I'm learning the hard way: leave the lid on and don't mess with it to check temps. I lost about 20 F just by removing the domed lid to the roaster.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Panel Cooker

Today, I'm cooking another chicken soup... we buy family packs of meat to keep the cost down, so this week I'm eating lots of chicken.

This chicken soup will be made with northern beans, carrots, corn, green beans and the broth I made earlier this week from the bones of a previous pot of soup. (I cut the meat off the bones and cube it so that it will cook quicker at these lower temperatures.

The silver thing on top of the pot is a fondue stand with the bottom plate removed. This helps keep the oven bag above the pot with the wind blows.

Steel Bowl Cooker

Inside this cooker is a Pyrex Pie Plate on a short candle stand.

Inside it is a 2 qt pot with 1 qt of water.

On top is a Pyrex Bowl.
I'm using buckets with rocks inside, to hold the reflector in place.

Steel Bowl Cooker

This is the largest steel bowl available at my local resturant supply store.

The reflector is a car window reflector.

Again, the focal point on the Reflector is easy to see... however the Focal point inside... I can't find it, can you?

Where's the Focal Point?

I'm having troubles finding the Focal Point of the Reflector in the roaster,
The Domed lid tends to have a reflection of its own.
The spot on the bottom right hand corner, is the sun.

Roaster Solar Oven

This is my oblong roaster solar oven. I am trying to learn how to adjust the reflector to focus more sunlight onto the roaster.

The reflection of the roaster is clearly seen on the reflector.
The roaster is sitting flat, the reflector is tilted towards the sun.