Sun to Table, January 2016


Wintertime:  Let’s Get Outside and Play – and Cook!

Whether you’re in ski country or in the south, a winter’s day outdoors is exhilarating.  Fresh air, blue sky, and sunshine – and maybe snow – time to bundle up and get the family outside. And come home to a steamy hot, savory bowl of a hearty winter soup – cooked in the sunshine while you were out playing all day! This month our guest solar chef, Elizabeth Van Huffel, shares her recipe for Kale Butternut Squash White Bean Soup on her blog LocalSavour.

Solavore in Sri Lanka
Last month Solavore Sport designer Dr. Paul Funk time-traveled to Sri Lanka twelve and a half time zones ahead of his lab in Las Cruces, New Mexico, to teach a module on ‘Engineering Design Thinking’ using the solar oven. Dr. Funk taught the class via Skype, addressing more than 50 teachers from rural areas in the country.
The event was one of two workshops held in Colombo and Kandy, Sri Lanka, conducted by Angelo Fernando, a computer and technology teacher at Salt River Elementary School in Scottsdale, Arizona. The first of its kind in the country integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (commonly referred to as STEM or STEAM), these workshops were held in collaboration with the National Institute of Education (NIE) which is responsible for curriculum development, and funded by the US Embassy in Sri Lanka.
Fernando, who had previously involved Solavore’s Anne Patterson in his school's STEM event in 2015, invited Dr. Paul Funk to teach a module on ‘Engineering Design Thinking.’ 
To teach the class, due to a twelve and a half-hour time difference between the two countries, Dr. Funk had to set up his solar cookers, in his lab at 11:30 pm (which was 11:00 am the next day in Sri Lanka!). “The goal was to inspire science teachers to incorporate science and technology in their lesson plans around conduction, convection, and radiation, while showing them the benefits of solar cooking in a country with abundant sunshine,” said Fernando.
“My goal was to construct the simplest solar device, a panel cooker, as they watched so my audience could see a few basic construction techniques,” commented Dr. Funk.  “ I felt honored to have so large and attentive a group giving attention to the thing I am most passionate about.”
Dr. Funk’s online teaching lab in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Also attending were two of Mr, Fernando’s 6th and 7th grade students who served as ‘STEAM Ambassadors’ from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Other Skype presenters at the workshops were a robotics designer from Arizona State University, an Astro-Physicist from the Planetary Science Institute, and a science teacher in Mesa, Arizona.
Solavore has been involved with the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community since 2015, and the school has plans to introduce solar ovens in upcoming STEM-based events.

Solavore Tips and Tricks

This month we’re adding a new section to the newsletter, tips and tricks for using your Solavore Sport.  My takeaways from years of solar cooking and answers to your questions too. Drop me a line!
Water:  Less is more!   You’re cooking with lids on, in a closed oven, in temperatures lower than a stovetop, so you’re not going to be boiling water away (and water-soluble nutrients along with it).  So when you’re cooking vegetables such as green beans, corn on the cob, asparagus – no water is needed.  When you’re cooking rice and grains, use 25% less water.  Depending on where you are (altitude, humidity, etc) this may vary, but in general less is best

Wild rice cooked in the Sport.

And speaking of water, condensation will build up inside your Solavore Sport, especially at times of the year when there is a greater temperature differential.  Moisture on the inside of the lid can be wiped off with a soft cloth.  Moisture between the lid and the film needs to evaporate on its own; you can bring the lid indoors where it’s warm and dry and it will clear up. 

 And don’t forget to store the Sport tilted up on its side, allowing any moisture to drain. The Sport is insulated with closed-cell foam so moisture won’t reduce its effectiveness, but it’s a good idea to drain it off, keeping the unit light and dry.  

Thanks for your help!
Our recent fund-raising campaign on Indiegogo raised over $11,000 in support of our programs in Cambodia and Kenya, enabling us to expand our pilot programs in both countries to 25 ovens each. Later this month we’re off to Cambodia where we’ll train eager cooks from rural families where deforestation has made farming increasingly challenging. They live in five wood-depleted regions - Kandal, Sem Reap, Battambang, Kratie, Kampon Speu.  We’ll report progress here…stay tuned.  And thanks for your help! 

Spread the Solavore Word
It’s hard to believe how the hard-working Solavore Sport consistently delivers – from appetizers to desserts, from succulent roasts to healthy vegan. That’s why word of mouth is the best way to spread the word, and we need your help! Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram
And if you’d be willing to get serious about building the Solavore community, with Solavore’s affiliate program you’ll be rewarded handsomely for your efforts, cash that you can donate to your favorite cause (or your piggy bank). Click here to learn more about how this program works and see if it’s right for you.