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.