Solar Cooking presentation in the "Variety Weather Belt" :)

by Luther Krueger
(Minneapolis Minnesota)

This past Wednesday I presented the basics of solar cooking to a group in north Minneapolis. Fittingly, it was a baker's dozen--13 folks including us presenters. It really was "preaching to the choir" as most were already either cooking or committed to solar cooking and just wanted tips on what types of cookers to get, what kinds of dishes cook best in which cookers, etc.

I didn't have to do a lot of instruction as many were already well-read on the topic. It was an evening presentation so cooking wasn't on the agenda, but I brought one example of the three main types of cookers:

Panel cookers: Good for slow, low-heat cooking, and compact enough for survival kits

Box cookers: Baking, moderate-heat cooking, can double as a "hay box" to keep cooked food hot after sun goes down

Parabolics: High heat cooking for frying but also with the right pots, can also be used for baking. I think of these as somewhat of a luxury--if that word can be applied to solar cooking?--since many used a lot of aluminum

All agreed that in the U.S. solar cooking feels more like a pass-time than a necessity but also they were enthusiastic about reducing their dependence on fossil fuels for cooking. One asked me about the carbon footprint of all the travelling I've done to build my collection of cookers--thousands of miles in my internal combustion engine car! I figured I'd reduced it somewhat because I was already on a trip for other purposes (vacation, visiting relatives, attending conferences for my job, etc.). The biggest challenge some felt was finding the sunny part of their yard to stake their cookers--the irony of living in city with a lot of trees is that some minimal deforestation may need to happen to clear a "sun patch". One attendee wisely suggested saving an old wheelbarrow to use as a platform and move a cooker around to "follow the sun".

My co-presenters showed how to build a solar dryer from commonly available materials. We were invited back to have a table at a community festival in about a month. All in all a pleasant experience!



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Now that sounded like some very stimulating and productive conversation amongst the group; and the many faceted ideas, suggestions and opinions with regards to solar cooking.
I liked the relevant and applicable comments and questions.
Sounds like it was a great opportunity despite the knowledge about solar cooking amongst the group.

In the end, I think they still would have to be impressed with the array of solar cookers you have accumulated...I know that I am.

Nathan
Admin.

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