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Things I have learned cooking with my Hot Pots

by Christa Upton
(South Dakota)

What follows are some things I have learned from Nathan Parry and this website, combined with my ow observations and thoughts.

Probably none of this info is new, but it’s organized into how my brain thinks of it. LOL

Note: we cooked all my recipes in the Solar Hot Pot Cooker around the 43rd northern parallel and around 3,500 feet in altitude. We enjoy a pretty large number of sunny days each year (and very little smog).

First, it appears to me that the “peak” of our Solar Hot Pot season here is early August. (Can any scientists out there tell me if this makes sense regarding the angle of the sun at the 43rd parallel?)

Second, the farther you get from that peak time (like going back to May or forward to October), the more “advantages” the food will need in order to get done. Such advantages can include:

  • cutting food into smaller pieces
  • filling Solar Hot Pot less full
  • reducing moisture in the recipe
  • having fewer clouds
  • adjusting the Pot to the sun more often (every hour; don’t despair of the
    ”work”--it’s great exercise! LOL)
  • giving the food maximum time
  • (start by 10 am and let go until at least 3 or 4 pm)

    Third, cooking vegetables in the Solar Hot Pot is really fun--easy to get crisp-done without stirring or burning!!!

    Fourth, the most surprising to me was cooking chicken on the bone and getting that incredible char. Maybe the combo of meat, skin, & fat that does it, along with the sunrays hitting the top of the Hot Pot and our high altitude??? (As opposed to the fact that you will NEVER see such a nice char on top in the “other” slow cooker--an electric slow cooker.)

    Fifth, everything is SO flavorful! Only 2 recipes (Heatwave Pineapple Pork & Lemon Sunshine Chicken) out of 50 surprised me by not boasting as much flavor as I expected.

    Sixth, rice and pasta were very difficult for us to cook. I don’t know why. I seem to remember something “funny” about our dew point up here in the Black Hills. Or maybe it’s our generally low humidity or our high altitude combined with our northern latitude. I know there’s also something “funny” about the boiling point of water in high altitude, but I can’t remember what it is….

    (Please feel free to comment below if you have any scientific insights on high altitude/low humidity/dew point/boiling/etc.!!!!! smile I’m very curious.)

    Or maybe I just haven’t been patient/persistent enough with pasta and rice!

    Seventh, baked foods will brown nicely on the top, starting around early July and going through September or so--amazing! I have no idea if this is true everywhere or just in high altitude. I do know the sun always feels much more piercing on the skin here than where I used to live around sea level.

    Eighth, egg white brushed on raw bread dough (Challah) will brown the bread much better than butter brushed on it.

    Ninth, the center of the Hot Pot has the hardest time getting food done. If you can, flatten food out in the middle to cook better (like the meatloaf--make a “meatbowl.”)

    Tenth, Chocolate Fondue is fantastic in the Hot Pot. Can’t believe how nicely it keeps the chocolate warm, even after opening the lid and digging in! (No need for one of those stinky little burner things underneath.) (A good friend mentioned cheese fondue--oh, gotta try that next year!!)

    Solar Cooking is very enjoyable, a unique way to experiment with food, and a very tasty way to create meals!!!

    Stay tuned for my final recipe--recipe number 50!

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