Solar Chefs

by Stefani on 8-September-2008

I just don't even know what to say. 

That's a first, I guess 🙂

Thank you all, truly, for your support, your kindness, for rallying around the Blue Yonder Ranch. I can't find the words to tell you how appreciated all of your emails and comments are. It does my heart so much good to know that folks from so many different walks, with so many different outlooks and ideals can come together despite those differences. Doesn't that just give you hope? 

For all the politico dribble going on these days, all the promises of change and pledges to unite, you guys are the ones who really make me believe that things are gonna be alright. So thank you. 

And you know, since it was so very heartwarming to experience such an outpouring of support, I thought I'd stir in a little more controversy. 

I give you, ant burning. 

Leaf Burning

Kidding, only kidding, no actual ants were hurt in the making of this photo. There might could have been, but the ants are far too fast 🙂 He only managed to toast a few leaves, but he thought it was super cool. 

Please don't write to me about forest fires or your third cousin's brother in law's nephew who wound up with third degree burns over 80% of his body by playing with a magnifying glass.We supervised closely, and then put it away in a top secret location, pinky swear.

My guys have been really itching to learn more about the power of the sun. Their friends have some super cool solar panels on their house. We've also noticed the ones atop all the "School Zone" and "Low Water Crossing" signs about town. So, when my middle boy bought himself a solar calculator (voice activated spy agent communication device) at the dollar store, their fascination with the sun became an all out frenzy.

They didn't believe me when I boasted that I could focus the power of the sun on a single leaf and burn it straight through. I do so love having a few tricks up my sleeve 🙂

Afterward, we did some research and they came up with a modified solar cooker design. 

Solar Cooking Experiement 

My son, the skeptic, thought maybe it would just be sitting in the sun that did the cooking – that it didn't really make a difference if the mallow was in the cooker or not. So, we decided to set up a control bowl of marshmallows and put a thermometer both in the "oven" and next to the control bowl. 

Control Mallows

We got the oven up to 180 degrees, while the control thermometer hovered around 109. 

Smores were had by each and every happy solar chef, while we talked about how what is fun for us can be life saving, and truly a blessing for people in less developed countries. We've also been doing lots of thinking and sketching out possible new designs to try and test. 

Solar Chefs

Learning is just so very delicious!
kristen September 8, 2008 at 6:21 am

Because you are so brilliant I nominted you for a Brilliant Weblog award. You can link back to PepperPaints and nominate and link to 7 more blogs..share the love! When the award button is up on my blog you can take it and put it on yours. Thanks!!

elissa September 8, 2008 at 6:39 am

again, you are the bomb! 😉 i LOVE that you are letting your boys do cool stuff like this. i swear, if i only had HALF of your ambition my boys would crown me queen of the world… mine would probably just be burning ants!

Aunt LoLo September 8, 2008 at 6:43 am

I’m always so impressed with the things you come up with to teach your son “how the world works.” Way to go, Mama Blue!

Candy Cook September 8, 2008 at 6:57 am

Totally cool. My hubby grew up in Macon, GA.. and swears his aunt used to crack a duck egg in the road and let it cook for her cat to eat. Now, that’s solar cooking. LOL

YayaOrchid September 8, 2008 at 7:17 am

That’s what it’s all about! Teaching your boys to love learning new things! You are one cool mama!

Joy September 8, 2008 at 7:21 am

ha ha…Solar cookers are fun. Until somebody gets the genius idea to pour a whole bag (like 3 pounds) of popcorn in it.(ahem, hubby) Nothing happened at first, but then…I do mean a volcano of popcorn flying every which way. I was picking popcorn out of my hair for days, and then he said he found a whole slew of them in the rain gutter above the deck later in the season. My boys thought it was hilarious. I still can’t figure out how it worked…I didn’t think it was hot enough to sustain popping that many kernels.

Janice September 8, 2008 at 7:26 am

I LOVE how things become ‘lessons’ in your daily life!! You are inspiring me! (when I don’t just feel like a total lame loser when I read here.) 😉

Donna September 8, 2008 at 7:38 am

Great idea to include the control plate–thanks for some ideas for projects with my kids, although I think I might just try popcorn in it after reading the above post (well, maybe not 3 lbs of it)

Linn September 8, 2008 at 7:38 am

Great ideas! I’ll have to try it next summer when my boys are a little bigger.

Rachelle September 8, 2008 at 7:41 am

What a great experience for your kids, and what a wonderful way to bring science together with geographical awareness. And marshmallows!


Melanie O. September 8, 2008 at 8:04 am

What a great idea – especially with the “control group” in the bowl. Brilliant!

Miranda September 8, 2008 at 9:21 am

That looks so fun! I bet my kids would enjoy trying a solar cooker. Thanks for the idea.

Becky September 8, 2008 at 9:38 am

I’ve been stopping in lately to read your blog. Using the sun to cook is the best. My son used a pizza box in 6th grade to cook with. He is now in 8th grade and still talks about it wanting to show it to his younger brother.

If you are up for more solar cooking, check out this link. Pizzerias are more than willing to give you a clean pizza box to start with.

Beth September 8, 2008 at 10:02 am

Oh, fun! I wonder if they’d like to make sun prints ( Have you guys done this? Very cool… Of course you can do it with construction paper too but the special paper is pretty magical.

Teresa September 8, 2008 at 10:41 am

Oooh, I love this! I have a solar oven in the shed that I made back in my college days. Maybe it’s time for me to pull it out and do a little cooking!

Regina September 8, 2008 at 11:12 am

More great ideas for the “to try” folder – hubby will love this one, since it is right to his Boy Scouting heart!

Katherine September 8, 2008 at 11:13 am

What fun, if you aren’t all done with the heat of the sun, try melting some crayons. We tried this and it was great fun. Check out this tutorial….

Kez September 8, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Oh that is cool!! I’m filing this one away for summer!

Hannah September 8, 2008 at 2:53 pm

Oh! I am inspired! Usually my dh is the one with all the cool tricks up his sleeve. But I think this is a chance for Mom to knock one out of the park! LOL!

Stefani September 8, 2008 at 6:19 pm

I love your sense of humor (“Let me stir in more controversey… any cooking!”), cracked me up!

Stefani September 8, 2008 at 6:20 pm

ooops.. I meant Ant Cooking =0)

Lasso the Moon September 8, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Such a cool idea. I could learn anything where smores are involved!

Lisa Payne Kirker September 8, 2008 at 7:01 pm

That is the best way to learn. And really, I’m sure my brothers did much worse than burn ants when we were little.

Relyn September 8, 2008 at 7:06 pm

Have I told you lately that I love you?

You can make a lesson out of anything. I love how you follow the interests of your children. Homeschooling at its best.

sarah September 9, 2008 at 1:26 am

My kids made signs with their names on them by woodburning using a magnifying glass. Very fun! I will try cooking another time. It’s not hot now!

Stephanie September 9, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Well, don’t leave us hanging…which cooked the faster? Did it really make a difference? And how long did it take before they were smore-ready?

Sheesh, I didn’t realize this was a serial post! lol

Miriam September 9, 2008 at 10:44 pm

That is so wonderful! My great-grandfather was an inventor in Tucson and built solar ovens and would have high school and college students out to bake bread. My mother and aunt say it was amazing.

Cordelia September 9, 2008 at 10:51 pm

My friend and I showed our boys (ages 5 and 7) how to burn things with magnifying lenses not long ago, but it was hard to get the mamas to stop. We both had fond memories of tortures we shouldn’t admit to. My son made a sort of cone solar oven, and cooked apples in a baby food jar in the narrow end, but I think his favorite is sizzling a hot dog or melting cheese with a small, cheap fresnel lens (like those thin plastic magnifiers you can get anywhere) nothing like the sound of sizzling…

molly September 10, 2008 at 10:42 am

okay, yum but where’s the chocolate??

your little solar cooker idea is so good. I just may have to impress my children with that one later next week.

Total Solar Energy October 9, 2008 at 3:16 am

these are life savers in remote parts of the world as well. so simple yet so effective

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