Solar Cooking During The Monsoon Season In The Desert
Solar cooking this time of year (the monsoon season in the desert southwest has started a little earlier than usual) can be challenging and rewarding all at the same time.You have to think flexible!
It will be mostly sunny with high thin clouds or even perfectly sunny in the morning but don't let those sunny skies fool you. By noon or shortly thereafter, the clouds are building and growing and sometimes even look threatening.
Those of us born and raised here know better than to expect rain very often but the clouds will build and get threatening regardless, blocking those essential sunny rays.
Those of us who depend on solar for our primary method of cooking have learned to cook early. Simple things that keep well like whole grains to plan a summer salad around, baked potatoes stuffed or for salads, Stuffed Green Peppers, polenta to fry over the butane stove later , Etc.
If I occasionally feel like cooking a big meal with several courses, I will keep it warm in my own version of a hay box cooker. (Igloo cooler with good blanket in for added insulation).
For example, I had baking potatoes in my hot pot when I first started work at 9 a.m. by noon they were done so I Threw about a cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water in the hot pot to cook while I tended my grandson for a daughter who is taking Summer Semester at College. By 2:30 the quinoa was done. I put both in my hay box cooker without the blanket wrapping this time.
When I got home about 4:40 the clouds had built up thick and heavy. I cut each potato lengthwise and scooped out the middle and mashed with a fork. I then mixed the mashed potato in with the quinoa, added a small jar of artichoke hearts, chopped green onion, minced garlic, salt and pepper,capers, and sour cream. Next I put this delish mixture back inside the potatoes and covered each one with provolone cheese. Then placed them back in the cooler with a couple of activated hand warmer packets. Don't know if they helped much but by 6:00 when we ate, the cheese was melted enough to stick nicely to the potatoes and flavors were blended well and delicious.
Because it had quinoa in it, I never bothered to put meat with this meal because Quinoa is a very high protein food all by itself and when its as hot here as its been, a high protein diet makes it harder to endure the heat. In the winter or fall I would serve meatballs or chicken with it
Instead we had Corn on the Cob I had cooked a couple of days ago and warmed up still in the husk on the truck dashboard a few minutes. Not piping hot but I will eat Corn on the Cob any way I can get it!
As the old saying goes: Necessity is the mother of Invention, and this applies to cooking by any and all methods...you make it work with combinations of resources and means, and the results turn out great.