My First Solar Oven
My first solar oven was actually not an “oven” at all. It was a panel cooker. But I really didn’t know the difference back then. I had become aware of, and interested in, solar cooking after sitting day after day out in the sweltering Arizona sun, tending our sales booth at craft shows.
But reading about solar cooking online – and seeing one in action– are two different things. I was a bit skeptical. I wanted it to work, but having no confidence in it, I was reluctant to hand over my hard earned money for a box that just sat in the sun. So my best option was to make a solar cooker myself. But not being handy at building things, I didn’t really have the skills to make one. And Mr. B was unconvinced and not eager to spend time and money building me one.
So my first solar oven was made from a shiny, silver accordion style windshield shade. I found the idea on the internet. These types of windshield shades are very popular in the Southwestern United States. In fact, due to the extreme heat, they really are a necessity and can be purchased in almost any retail store and car shop for about $10.
Following the online directions, I formed the windshield shade into a funnel shape, set it on a box and put it out in the backyard. I placed a rack across the box to set the pot on. The pot, enclosed in an oven cooking bag, was placed on the rack. It really was an unusual site. Mr. B, a culinary master in his outdoor kitchen, complete with barbecue grills, smokers, and a fryer, was in the house shaking his head at my funny cooker.
For it’s inaugural cook, the menu was chili dogs. I just cut some hot dogs into pieces and added a can of chili. I had no other instructions and didn’t know how long to let the hot dogs “cook” or at least in this case, “heat up”. I ended up taking it off just a little too soon and the hot dogs were not fully heated in the center. But it was warm enough! And we were hooked. Mr. B became a complete convert and has willingly and eagerly added my solar ovens to his outdoor kitchen.
This is the first of five posts about about my early solar cooking experiences. To continue to read about my experience, click here to go to the second post “Solar Cooking: Catching the Spark” What was your first solar oven? Did you make one or did you buy it? Leave me a comment.