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August 25, 2009

The Art of Solar Cooking

“The Art of Solar Cooking” 

2009 Season:  Events & Travels

By Reyel and Michaela Daystar

Practicing the art of solar cooking has taken us across the State of California during the 2009 solar cooking season.  From the intense light rays in Redding to the cool, foggy days of the Bay Area and the scorching heat of the desert, we have taken our collection of solar cookers around the state to achieve new levels of cooking proficiency and to raise awareness of this innovative sustainable technology.


Our journey with solar cooking took us into nature and academia; into back yards and our local county fairs.  We taught classes to kids and adults, and entered a cooking contest at the Marin County Fair and judged a solar cooker construction workshop and contest at the San Mateo County Fair.


The highlight of the summer was the 30-day solar cooking diet in July, which inspired many of our summer exploits. 


Each of these solar cooking venues introduced a new audience to the concept of solar cooking and has helped us prove to ourselves that solar cooking can be a practical, functional and enjoyable addition to a sustainable life style.


San Francisco Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA; April 18, 2009

In April, we gave a solar cooking demonstration at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco during their earth week events.  We had never taught solar cooking in such a prestigious place before.  Despite the labor of lugging a Global Sun Oven, Tulsi-Hybrid and several other styles with pots and food, we gave it our all and received a great response.  The best part of talking about solar cooking with others is that it’s fun.  Most of the time, people are amazed at the proficiency of how well a solar oven cooks. 


 Mills College Earth Day, Oakland, CA; April 24, 2009:

Our solar cooking season started off with a well attended solar cooking demonstration and gardening at Mills College.  This was great opportunity for us to share our knowledge of solar cooking with the students at Mills with hopes that some of the students would try solar cooking in their spare time.  The event was co- sponsored by the Mills College Community Garden as part of the Earth Week program.


I returned in September and did another workshop with a new class of first-year students who are members of the Sustainability Living-Learning Community.


“Cooking with the Sun: For Kids” El Cerrito, Ca; May 2009

This was an 8-week enrichment class for students  1-5 grades.  We covered the history of solar cooking and made solar cookers starting from the Pringles can to making a model of a CooKit.


The 30-Day Solar Diet, El Cerrito, CA; July, 2009:

Forsaking our oven, stove and barbeque grill, Michaela and I challenged ourselves to eat only food that was prepared in a solar oven during the month of July.  We were successful in not using our oven, stove-top, barbeque meal and ordering take-out for 30 days.  The difficulty was magnified by the consistently foggy, overcast micro-climate we experience in El Cerrito.  (see wiki article entitled “30-day solar diet)


Marin County Fair:  “Best in the West Ribs Contest,” San Rafael, CA; July 5, 2009:

Also, during this month we entered the Marin County Fair’s “Best of the West Ribs Contest.”  We were awarded an honorable mention for creativity for our “Rey’s Rambunctious Solar Cooked Ribs,” which were the only ribs entered that were solar cooked.



San Mateo County Fair:  “Solar Oven Construction Contest,” San Mateo, CA; August 15-16, 2009:

In late August, we were invited to do a workshop and judge a solar oven construction contest at the San Mateo Fair.  We have done large one-day events like the Integrated Waste Management’s Earth Day celebration but this was our first time demonstrating at a County Fair. 


About 25 people came and listened to our presentation on Saturday.  The core of the audience was a group of Asian exchange students which was very cool to give the message to people of another country.  We imagine that if at least one person goes back and spreads the message of solar cooking in their country than the weekend was successful.


On Sunday, we hosted and judged our first solar cooker construction contest.  We had five entries that created very efficient solar cookers.  The contest helped us explore our own knowledge of three main components needed the make an efficient design: reflectors, glazing and black surface or pots.  Everyone won award and were very happy.


“The Northside Garden,” Berkeley, CA September 19, 2009

One person who attended a workshop we gave last year at the Berkeley Ecology Center called us and asked if we could do a workshop at the garden she oversees.  So we scheduled and planned the workshop but on the weekend day of the workshop, a tropical storm with dry lightening and rain blow in from the coast causing our first ever cancellation due to weather.   

So instead of a full workshop, we needed up doing a presentation the following weekend at the gardens Harvest Festival.  Our goal all along was to encourage people to explore the connection between garden and solar cooker.  So this was a great venue for this message.


We really enjoyed traveling around Northern California teaching the art of solar cooking for different organizations and events.  Our future goal is to reach even more communities, as we take our love for food cooked by the sun to other parts of California and beyond.

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