Sunday, April 30, 2017

Baking with Sunshine

Some of you may remember our post from a few years ago about our many attempts to find a way to bake in the bush.  We worked our way through baking in a pressure cooker, baking with charcoal, baking with sand, and baking in a brick-oven.  Some methods were better than others, but all had one thing in common: difficulty regulating the oven temperature resulting in burned food and many frustrations. 

As we think about returning to Tanzania in a couple years, Jared is determined to find a more reliable and efficient way to bake.  As he tossed around different ideas, he kept coming back to the sun.  After all, we use it to power lights, charge computers, heat water, and dry clothes.  And given our location just south of the Equator, it is plenty intense.  Jared began researching solar oven options online and wisely decided to time his tinkering with last month’s visit from my brother, Andy, who just happens to be an engineer.

Andy drafted a preliminary design based on the oven Jared had picked (a simple double-walled glass tube with a rubber lid), and brought both the oven and the materials they would need in his luggage.  For days, they assembled and disassembled, tweaked and fine-tuned; constructing fixtures to help focus the sun’s rays, creating a sundial to align the tube’s position, and rigging our kitchen thermometer to monitor the solar oven’s heat.


In a word, they were focused.  And let me tell you, all that tinkering was beyond successful.  So far the solar oven has not only baked bread, it has also cooked cookie bars, brownies, apple crisp, chocolate cake, squash, French bread, rice, and banana cake.  Not to mention, black beans, baked potatoes, and steamed carrots.  All with zero gas and zero electricity- just the free, God-designed power of the sun.  All though we can only use it on full sun days from 10AM-4PM and Jared may damage his retinas from the glare of the reflectors, at least we’ll be eating well!