Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Solar Potluck Update

Note to self: After spending eight hours in the Arizona sun at a solar potluck it is not a good idea to drive two hours to Phoenix, get up the next morning at 4:30a.m, fly to L.A., and drive back to Phoenix the following day. It's exhausting! The solar potluck part, however, was a lot of fun. I had two Sun Ovens going all day. For starters we had biscuits, eggs, banana muffins, and oatmeal coconut raspberry bars. Around noon I got a pot of chicken thighs with rice and vegetables, and a loaf of peasant bread going. At 5:00p.m. everyone brought their dishes to the picnic tables, and by 5:30 everything was gone.

Normally sitting outside in the heat is not my idea of fun, but I was so busy cooking and talking to people about solar cooking that I hardly noticed the sun beating down on me. I enjoyed myself so much that I can't wait until the solar cook-off in Bisbee, AZ in June. I only wish I'd taken more pictures. I've designated Martin as our official photographer for any future events. I tend to get so caught up in the food preparation that I forget about anything else.

Pictures can probably tell the story better than I can, so here they are:

There was a wide variety of solar cookers, many homemade, but I'd have to say the most popular was the Sun Oven.

Many people ask me how long a Sun Oven will last, this one has to be one of the first ones ever made and it's still working fine.

Here I am putting the final touches on the rice and chicken before serving it. I'm still working on perfecting the bread. The texture is still not right. The interior has improved from my first attempts, but the crust is not how I want it. It's hard to explain, but it almost seems like it's glazed and it's too crunchy. I'm not quite sure what other adjustments I can make. I'm putting it on a back burner for now. 

Oh, and just for the record, I did get something in the Sun Oven today too. Martin's favorite - Chicken with Two Lemons. It's always a good idea to stick to a tried and true dish after such a hectic few days.


  1. I didn't see pictures of the fresnel lens cooker. Was that guy there? That's the solar cooker I'm really interested in adding to my 'stable' of ovens. The ability to stir-fry with the sun would be awesome!

    Glad you had fun and really hope to meet you next year. I've put the Bisbee event on my calendar but not positive I can make it yet.

  2. Looks like you had a great turnout! I'm trying to get one going here in Raleigh for August 1st, this year. Should be interesting. So far as the bread is concerned, I like a crunchy crust on my round breads. Was the center too soft?

  3. Chile - Yes, he was there. He was making burgers and such throughout the day. His fresnel lens cooker was quite impressive. It requires constant supervision. You could easily burn yourself or start a fire.

    Sharlene - The center of the bread was good. I like crunchy crust too, but this was more than crunchy, I feared for my teeth! And the crust had a weird texture. I really don't know how to explain it, but is wasn't quite right. I've got some dough rising now using a different recipe from the same book. It bakes in loaf pans and at a lower temperature. Hopefully I'll get better results.

  4. Thanks. Those fresnel heaters can be very dangerous and what we call and "attractive nuisance" to neighborhood children. That's why I steer clear of the parabolic cookers, too. The danger of starting fires is too high. I like the eco-stove(?) idea that Chile showed the other day for fast cooking. It would cook fast and burn up fallen branches. Gonna have to make my own, though, 'cause I can't seem to locate a source. Have a great day.

  5. Sharlene, I emailed you the source for the Stove-tec rocket stove. :)

    Good points by both of you on the fresnel. Maybe I am best off sticking to the rocket stove (or future cob oven) for other types of cooking. Sure wouldn't want to start a fire out here!