Solar Cooking – a few important reflections…

Since attending my first organized Solar Cooking event last Saturday morning, I have found myself more motivated than ever to fully explore this aspect to Outdoor Cooking, not to mention being even more excited to get started.  Have continued gathering a few items not already out in my garage from places like Home Depot, gathering more information and ideas off of the Internet, and enjoying that part of the process too. 🙂

Now, with the passage of a couple of days, I can look back and determine what was the ONE thing that made the greatest impression on this old Sailor, (other than the obvious need for sunglasses):

In the absence of smoke and flames – Solar Cooking can be dangerous to the curious and uninitiated, regardless of age!

I am still experiencing a bit of cramping in the middle of my back, (T-6 to T-8 thank you), and after an hour or so of standing, sought out a nearby park bench to lean back on while continuing to just set and watch. From that perspective, I noted the experienced men and women of the club were constantly cautioning curious “passers by” that they really were cooking and the items in their cookers were HOT! Many had cooking thermometers on display to show just “how hot”.

Those who were demonstrating reflector style cookers had to be particularly careful to keep the curious from reaching out – wanting to actually touch cooking chambers formed out of glass bowls and/or clear oven bags. Believe me, it was NOT just the children.  One very tall, elderly gentleman, (yeah – MY age), actually succeeded in laying his hand on an inverted glass bowl in a Copenhagen cooker while its owner, (Sherry), was explaining that cooker to his wife.  (I noted his hand came away very rapidly, he took a step back, and did NOT repeat that mistake). 😉

Children must be watched – and not only by their parents!

Another time, I watched as a cute little blond girl of about 4 or 5 years, who had escaped from her parents, walked the entire length of the cookers on display – all the while Mr. Jim La Joie walked right along with her to keep her from being burned by a hot pot, or worse yet – tipping over a cooker from its display table.  Later on, I had the opportunity to share my observation and congratulations with Jim for his care.  It was one of those lessons learned I will share with my family, and especially curious campers later on this year when I/we are doing some solar cooking ourselves over at the Santee Lakes RV Camp.

Different styles of Solar Cookers require different levels of caution!

This kind of safety precaution is not quite as critical in the “Oven style” cookers like the Global Solar Oven, or home-brew variants of them, since their cooking chamber is generally covered with a layer of glass or oven-proof plastic which ward off curious fingers and hands.  Just the same, there is the danger of one getting accidentally knocked over and its content spilled on someone.  Caution will remain the watchword.

As mentioned before, I fully plan to investigate the parabolic style cookers and that area will merit even MORE care and focus on the arena of safety – both personal and care for the safety of others.  Parabolic reflectors focus the sunlight into a *very* tight focal point – and anything placed in that focal point *will* be subjected to extreme heat.  It would be like placing your hand over an open flame on a stove-top burner, but with solar there are no flames, and no smoke to warn those who aren’t already aware.  Directly gazing into, or near, the focal point of such a reflector can literally blind people.

On the positive side, a parabolic reflector requires a lot more attention to keep it adjusted – there can be no “just leave it unattended” any more than you can walk away from a frying pan full of bacon. (One of the enjoyments of cooking with the slower solar cooking devices, like the oven style or the ASSC, is the “laid back atmosphere” and only having to adjust it to the sun’s position every hour or so – depending upon its individual design).  Therefore, when using a parabolic cooker, I will constantly be there, not only cooking – but guarding against another person accidentally becoming injured through a combination of curiosity and ignorance of invisible danger.

The bottom line – all cooking, and especially ALL Outdoor Cooking, requires its own particular attention to safety.  Saturday was a great reminder of that fact.

Thank you again to the San Diego Solar Cooking Club, for a wonderful and inspiring morning last Saturday. 8)

This entry was posted by dave on Monday, March 7th, 2011 at 3:14 pm and is filed under Solar Cooking . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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