Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cooking with My GoSun Stove

 As soon as my new GoSun Stove arrived today, I read the user guide and set it up in the shade.  I was one of the early investors on KickStarter for the GoSun Stove.  I was impressed with the design and quality of the materials.  I had always wanted to make a parabolic sun stove myself but never got around to it.  So, I was pleased to invest in a company that was making a quality product and also sharing their work in undeveloped countries.

Of course, I wanted to try it out right away since it was a sunny day.  I decided to use what I had in my refrigerator and garden to make a "ham and vegetable stew/fry."  See recipe below.  I have cooked this many times in my cast iron skillet but the sun stove allowed me to do this outside, saving the cool air in the house*.

*We don't have air conditioning and cool the house by opening the windows at night and then closing up the house when the temperature outside is close to the inside temperature.  We successfully keep the house about 20 degrees cooler on the inside than outside (or 70 degrees if outside temperature is 90 degrees). Of course, living in the mountains where nighttime temperatures are usually well below 70 makes this possible.

 I put the food in the stove. 

 It was exactly 11:30 a.m. when I angled the sun stove directly towards the sun.  Sky was slightly overcast with a few clouds but mostly sunny. 

I checked the food at 11:45 or 15 minutes later and tested with a fork to see that the potatoes were cooking. 
 I checked a couple more times and at 12:20, the vegetables were done.   So I added my fresh herbs...

and covered the stove with a flour sack dishcloth to "turn it off," much like I do with my cast iron skillet when I turn off the burner and leave the food to simmer in its own juices.

About 10 minutes later, I  took the food out with a wooden spatula and put on two plates for my husband and me.   My husband was impressed that it was all done in less than an hour outside with just the sun as fuel.  The food tasted a little like a stew but also like it was fried so that's why I call it a stew/fry.  I think the last 10 minutes really helped to meld the flavors together.

The stove was easy to clean, using only mild soap and water on the cooking tray and the brush for the tube.   So far, I am pleased with my range.  I believe it could be used by folks here in the Appalachian Mountains to cut down on electricity usage or during the many times when the power goes out.  For those like us without air conditioning, it is helpful to keep our house cool also.

Note on operation:  Although it did not seem to make much of a difference, I had neglected to put the steam vent on the handle.  I think that the shield protects the glass or fingers and creates more of a tighter seal.  I have it on there now so I expect the food might have cooked in less time had I used the steam vent. Also, I might assemble in the house next time.  The stove was heating up even  though it was in the shade and angled toward the north sky.

The recipe that follows could be adapted to your taste such as different herbs or spices or using redskin potatoes or squash which I did not have in the garden.  The quantity makes a good lunch for two but for supper, I would add more potatoes. I think the cooking try could have held more but I did not want to risk getting food on the tube which might be more difficult to clean than the cooking tray. 

Sun Cooked Ham and Vegetable Stew/Fry

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cooked ham, 1/2" chunks or slices
1/4 cup red peppers, chopped
1/4 cup onion, chopped
1-2 potatoes,  1/2" chunks (about 3/4 cup)
1 pat or about 1/2 tablespoon butter
chopped parsley and chives

Pour the olive oil in the cooking tray.  Layer the ham and vegetables evenly.   After vegetables are tender (50 minutes for me this day), add the butter and chopped parsley and chives and shade the stove.  Food will continue to cook for awhile so remove food after about 10 minutes.