Monday, May 17, 2010

Solar Cooking Second Thoughts

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.

8 comments:

Wonder Mom said...

We will HAPPILY try out Solar Cooking for you here in East Tennessee...once it stops raining...and raining...and raining...

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Wonder Mom - I pass the solar torch to you then - assuming you don't float away first!

Debbie said...

I am sorry but this gave me a chuckle. It made me think of the push over here to go solar in newly constructed houses. I am sorry but as rainy as it can be over here with days of no sun at all, I don't get it!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Debbie - It is a funny trend - kind of like electric cars, on Montana highways (it's a long way between plug-ins).

Ticia said...

I remember your first forays into this, and thinking I would try it sometime. I still need to.....

Raising a Happy Child said...

Solar energy push is serious here in Silicon Valley. This year, however, Mother Nature is playing jokes, and we have a lot more cloudy days than normal. Still, we might play with solar cooking when Anna is a bit older.

wonderinthewoods said...

Oh this is so great, may I link it on my blog? I just did a big post about ideas for camping. :-) I found you through The Work of Play blog. I love your blog. We are "almost" unschoolers too. Looking forward to reading more.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Wonder in the Woods - Link away! And, thanks :)