When it comes to toys, plastic ain’t always bad (& a giveaway}
On my mind...

A sunny solar Sunday roast

I was well-and-truly taking advantage of the sunshine on Sunday.

Sun cook solar oven and solar kettle

Here’s a view of our veranda around midday. Clothes drying, water boiling in my solar kettle, and plenty of solar cooking in my solar oven.

At the same time our PV solar panels and solar hot water system were generating our power and heating our water.

That’s a whole lot of good from a little sunshine!

Four reasons why I love solar cooking.

I’m discovering loads of reasons to love solar cooking. Here’s just a few that are fresh in my mind from Sunday.

1. I can bake on hot days without heating up the kitchen.

Solar cooking on the verandah

I’d bought a chook from the farmers markets on Sunday morning and planned on using it for a baked dinner that night, sandwiches for lunch on Monday, and for chicken-noodle soup on Tuesday night (after using the bones to make a stock on Monday night). I had it all planned, but then Sunday was so warm that the last thing I wanted to do was turn the oven on.  I was tempted to throw the chook in the freezer, but decided instead to try cooking it in the solar oven, despite doubting that sunshine would be able to cook a whole chook in a few hours. But it did! I placed the chook in the solar oven around noon, and by 4pm I had a perfectly baked chicken.

Given that the solar oven reached only 125 degrees Celsius, the chook baked real slowly, so was nice and tender. The downside of this low temperature is that food rarely browns. That’s fine when it’s a cake or muffins, but with the chicken I wasn’t entirely comfortable with the pale and almost slimy finished product. So I quickly grilled the chook in our conventional oven for a few minutes. Perfect. That’s not really cheating is it?

2. I can leave the house with the oven cooking, without worrying about my house burning down. I was out and about for much of Sunday afternoon. I loved not having to worry about leaving the oven on.

3. Given the low cooking temperatures, it’s almost impossible to burn or over-cook food. I put a loaf of cornbread in the solar oven on Sunday morning and promptly wandered off and did something else without even thinking about when I needed to take it out. Every now and then I’d peek in when wandering past and could then wander off again without worrying about over-cooking.

4. Making a cup of tea has never been easier.

Solar cooked tea and cornbread

On Sunday I had water on the boil all day in the solar kettle. Each time I filled the tea pot I simply re-filled the kettle and placed it back in the sun. By the time I was ready for another cuppa, the water would be hot enough. I loved not having to wait for the jug to boil (which is often enough to turn the impatient me off making a cuppa).

Want to give solar cooking a go?

You don’t need a fandangle solar oven to solar cook (although they do make it easier and quicker). Check out the solar oven that Marita’s kids recently made out of a couple of cardboard boxes. Their frugal homemade solar oven even reached 100 degrees C - just hot enough to make a cuppa.

And back to that baked chook...

Picnic in the new van

We enjoyed our solar roast in the back of our new (to us) camper delivery van. We’ll be converting it to a camper van, so consider this the ‘before’ photo. Although, if you know us personally, you'll know there's often a LONG time between 'before' and 'after' photos, so don't hold your breath for the 'after' photo (although i'd love to prove me wrong). In the mean time, watch this space for a blog post titled ‘How to reduce the environmental impact of a not-very-eco decision’.

{Don't forget to enter the Eco Dream giveaway if you're interested in winning a Green Toy Chef Set}.