The children, and I had some fun, and limited success, with a couple different homemade solar cookers, last summer. I've been really looking forward to the return of summer, so we can give it another go. Actually, I had hoped to be able to try our cookers out in the winter, when the outside temperature was really low. But, I discovered, that even though this is called "Big Sky Country", and we do see a lot of blue sky, we don't really have that many perfectly clear, and cloudless days.
So, when I realized today was sunny, and beautiful, I asked the girls to whip up a couple of our Easy Bake Oven mixes (just 3 tablespoons of regular cake mix, and 1 tablespoon of water, so no eggs, or anything to worry about undercooking), while I dug around for our Boy Scout style, pizza box, solar oven. We've had better success with our windshield shade cooker, but I didn't have any turkey bags on hand, so I went with the enclosed box style, that doesn't require a bag.
We sat the cakes out at noon.
Three hours later, despite a forecast for sun, the sky looked like this...
...and the cakes looked like this...
I saved them, by sticking them into the oven, for a few minutes, while I preheated it for a batch of cookies. But, considering the girls have been baking these cakes in 12 minutes, under the heat of a light bulb - I'm having some serious, solar, second thoughts. Perhaps it's time to leave solar cooking to the people in the sunny south, and find some new hobby for the summer.
However, our foray into solar cooking, has caused us to be much more aware of our local weather patterns, alternative energy sources, and the plight of people in other parts of the world, where harnessing this type of energy is a matter of survival, rather than entertainment, or curiosity. So, I'd still recommend giving it a try, even if you live in less than sunny circumstances.
It's great to be a homeschooler.