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Natural Perspectives: Now we're cooking

March 28, 2012|By Vic Leipzig and Lou Murray
  • Lou Murray's new solar oven.
Lou Murray's new solar oven.

Whenever Vic goes off to teach, leaving me at home with the Internet and a credit card, I have so much fun while he's at work. Most days I just read, garden and play with my chickens.

But once in a while, I see what trouble I can get into with online shopping. That's what happened recently.

A number of years ago I made a solar oven out of a Styrofoam box, some aluminum foil and a sheet of glass. It didn't work very well. It took all day to heat up a can of baked beans. I had looked online for solar ovens back then, but didn't find one with all of the features that I wanted.

You may be wondering why I would want an oven that cooks with just the heat of the sun. It can be used for camping, but that isn't the primary reason why I bought it. It can be used for emergency cooking in case of a power outage, but I would use our gas grill or propane camping stove in those cases. So that isn't why I bought it either.

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I got a solar oven as part of my ongoing fight against global warming. For every meal I cook in the solar oven, that's a tiny bit of natural gas that I didn't burn. By using a solar oven, I'm not contributing to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. And in part, I got it so Vic could laugh at me. He thinks it's really funny that I cook outdoors in the sun when I have a perfectly functional indoor kitchen.

After my experience with my homemade solar oven, I wasn't impressed with sun cooking. But for some inexplicable reason, I looked again at solar ovens online and found one with every feature that I wanted, at Sun Oven International.

It's portable, has a carrying handle, and the attached, one-piece, collapsible reflectors fold up for storage. It has a built-in thermometer, and a built-in elevation leg. An essential feature is a swinging shelf so food stays level when the angle of the oven is changed to better face the sun. And best of all, it's made in the U.S. The Sun Oven had everything I wanted in a solar oven, so I bought it!

I also purchased the optional emergency preparedness package and a couple of solar cookbooks. The emergency preparedness package included two bread pans, a set of two stacking pans with lids, and three stacking shelves that can be used to dehydrate foods. They are used for making sun-dried tomatoes or beef jerky. It also came with a CD with 80 solar oven recipes and preparation tips.

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