This story was one that I had previously shared with the inventor of the ASSC, Jim LaJoie.
We were having our family Thanksgiving celebration at my home this year, for the first time. Normally, my wife and I live a very quiet life, in a mostly empty house. Having a dozen people for a long weekend would be a very different situation, and the logistics of cooking so many meals, was going to be challenging. In preparation for the actual Thanksgiving meal, we cooked mostly with our conventional ovens, inside. The day after Thanksgiving, we felt a sense of accomplishment and relief, but were taken by surprise when we realized that while there were many holiday meal leftovers to choose from, most of the guests wanted a conventional breakfast. As coffee was made, ideas were tossed about. I simply headed outside to the backyard, for I had a plan, and everyone would be my captive test group.
From 8:30 am onward, I have sun in my backyard at that time of year. I rotated my solar parabolic dish, grabbed a large pan, a dozen eggs, and little butter. While the toaster was working inside the house, I had the sunglasses on, and began cooking eggs with the help of a clear morning sky. On the other side of my yard, my stainless steel outdoor grill simply looked on in “appliance envy”. Those inside the house peeked outside of the sliding doors, only to dart back in and query my wife as to what I was doing. They were curious but cautious about what was going on “out there”. The solar cooking paradigm-shift was in full effect.
After several servings of eggs entered the breakfast area, from the backyard, vice the kitchen, and were cautiously consumed, the idea gained momentum.
Following breakfast, one of our guests was so intrigued by the parabolic dish, that we began discussing the various solar ovens that I had bought or built. I showed him how the Global Sun Oven worked, my reflective insert, and then the All Seasons Solar Cooker that I had built. It was made of nothing more than thin cardboard with aluminum foil tape applied. “Don’t let the simplicity deceive you, it can be used to slow cook almost anything,” I told him. We set the cooker up and put some leftovers in a granite-ware pot, placed that in a lightly sealed oven bag and set it in the sun. An hour later, he was eating lunch with a wry smile.
Since he lived in LA, I gave him that ASSC, a roll of aluminum foil tape, the granite-ware pot we used, and a package of oven bags. I told him that he should try this back home in LA. He was concerned about taking my ASSC, so I pulled out two foamboards and laid out the ASSC we had just used, on top of these foamboards. After tracing the outline, I marked the corners that would be where folds would take place. Quickly cut the outline with a box cutter, scored the bend lines, and applied the aluminum foil tape. In less than one hour, I had cloned my original ASSC. He was impressed. It still seemed too simple. Isn't everything complicated and convoluted these days?
The following week, I received an e-mail from him:
"Hey thanks a lot, the oven works great! I've already tried cooking plenty of things, anything from a whole chicken to drying some fruit.
It's real easy to use too. I actually find it hard to mess anything up when cooking with it.
I'm currently in the process of making my own, I pretty much just have to cut it out and put it together, but before I do I'm thinking about ways I might be able to improve upon the design (such as lengthening the sides, or widening the catch area etc.).
Any input would be greatly appreciated, I'm sure you would know more about it, and wouldn't doubt you've tried different things yourself.
Thanks for all the links, I'll definitely have to try some of those recipes, and those plans for making a cardboard parabolic are a good idea, I might just try and make one of those too.
Thanks for everything and send my regards to everyone"
His sense of personal empowerment was evident, and I shared this story with the inventor of the ASSC, as a way of giving him thanks. Jim's efforts in developing and promoting the ASSC have been altruistic and tireless.
Thank you Brad,
It goes to show that just a simple little solar cooking demonstration can win a new convert to the cause, no matter how skeptical at first.
Yes, I agree, Jim does great work in promoting solar cooking with his All Season Solar Cookers.
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