Cooking in the Yard

You know I'm always on the lookout for a quick, simple, low-tech way to prepare good food. (Actually, I'd really rather order in, but this is the new me talking.) Friend Gail and I were talking about how cool it would be to take all our farmer's market veggies and pop them in a solar oven for the day, and enjoy a lovely dinner at night with very little fuss. We also want to avoid heating up the kitchen, now, as the temperatures inch higher.

This was obviously a job for Google. We found lots of instructions for making a very simple solar oven with materials one might find around the house. Here's how we began Experiment Number One:

Place cut veggies in a roasting bag, like you might use on the Thanksgiving turkey.

Line an insulated box or styrofoam cooler with foil. Add more foil covered reflectors around the top of the box. We hope to get one of those reflectors you use in your windshield to keep the sun out. Place a rack in the bottom to allow heat to circulate. Weight box with a rock if needed (Texas wind can turn this whole thing into a hot, nutritious tumbleweed--ask me how I know).

Place the veggies in a metal bowl - dark, or reflecting both can work. Leave to bake in the sun for several hours. As I write, ours has been soaking up the rays for 6+ hours. I'll let you know how it goes. My suspicion is that we need more reflection and some glass to intensify the rays and hold in the heat.

That's why we practice.

Worst case, I'll pull out the veggies and nuke them for dinner tonight. That's the old me talking.


  1. I'm howling laughing. Good grief!

  2. How fun! I'll share a Girl Scout trick with you.... 1 charcoal briquet = 40 degrees of heat. Get a box from the liquor store. It's important that it's a liquor store box because they have extra thick walls AND because they usually open them by cutting only 3 sides (Translation: oven door). Cut some thin cardboard to the same size. as the box. Cover thin cardboard with foil and fit inside box. Basically, you're lining the box with foil. Start your charcoal in a charcoal starter. Ask me and I'll tell you how to make one with a coffee can. Put your briquets in a foil pie pan when ready. Remember 1 briquet = 40 degrees. Using cans for your stand, you can bake a cake, bake bisquits, anything you would in a "real" oven. My Girl Scout troops were always well fed!

  3. Girl Scouts should be mandatory for EVERY child... not just the girls. Both my kids learned to survive by going to GS camp, my son too (helps when mom is a troop leader.)

    Can't wait to read about you baking muffins in another month when the June temps are in full force.


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