Follow me in real time as I attempt to cook with solar while writing this!
(writing that made me feel like a trapeze artist balancing two puppies while everyone watches)
No, we haven’t yet met our goal with cookie sales to afford a “real” solar cooker, but my friend Nan was kind enough to lend me her pizza box solar cooker after she built it herself then realized she didn’t have enough sunny spots. Our 2nd story corner apartment has plenty of sun, so today I am experimenting with my first solar meal: fake chicken teriyaki stir-fry. This meal is just for me for lunch, and even if I ate it raw, it wouldn’t hurt me, so it’s a great starter meal.
Ok, I’m beginning by researching some pizza box cooker information online. (Woa, Ripples appears on the first page of Google when I search “pizza box solar cooker stir fry”!) I couldn’t find any stir-fry recipes, but this can’t be that hard if people are baking cookies and potatoes! Potatoes take forever even in a super-hot oven, and it’s 36 degrees outside.
Introducing myself to the pizza box
Now I’m studying the design (way to go Nan!) and reading some of the information she gave me about how it’s built. I want to get familiar with how it opens, how to angle the reflective lid, and in general make sure the box feels comfortable with me before I try to put food into it.
Ready to begin cooking!
Now I’ve got the stir fry spread onto a cookie sheet inside the oven, and have spent the past hour struggling with plastic wrap and scotch tape. The plastic wrap won out over my patience, and it isn’t insulated right. But I tried really hard! Our cat Boca wanted to be part of the meal and kept climbing inside the cooker. Then I realized I’d have to tilt the cooker instead of keeping it flat, so the teriyaki sauce ran out a bit (don’t worry Nan I’ll clean it). I used Food, Inc. and Fast Food Nation as book props to tilt the cooker to the correct angle for maximum sun exposure.
Starving in the Sunshine
I’m pretty hungry right now so I decided to sip a green smoothie and soak up the sun rays which are hopefully cooking my lunch right now. This is so exciting!
Growing with Defeat
In this lifestyle we’ve chosen, failure is a close friend. It isn’t always welcome though. The solar cooker experiment has not been successful today, yet that’s why it’s an experiment – an adventure. The stir-fry didn’t heat up much, and the rice and chicken textures were unusual. The peas turned a pale green / white. I decided to just compost this meal and continue striving to cook with renewable energy in the future. Determination is what’s going to achieve our dreams, not this one meal.
Still, though, I’m extremely disappointed.