We were raised with a Betty Crocker Easy-Bake oven. But solar ovens take the cake.
Israelis are catching on to the joys of solar cooking with solar ovens. Those of us who live in these parts know too well how hot it can get in the summer – temperatures perfect for fuelling sun-baked cooking.
Yaakov Dorot, an engineer, got the idea while in Switzerland in the 1980s. Apparently, a Swiss friend invited him and his wife for a meal (ratatouille) and it was prepared in a solar oven.
Dorot then ordered a kit from a Swiss company that makes the solar ovens - they help the environment and have a humanitarian purpose too as the kits are distributed in hot regions where people don't have access to electricity.
After a little tweaking to the kit – (okay a lot of tweaking: discarded metal plates from offset printing were used; Dorot took latches from an old car hood; and applied nontoxic honey-based black paint) – the oven was ready.
For several months of the year (May through September) this is how the Dorots cook their food. Says Mrs. Dorot:
"I prepare the food in the morning, before we leave the house, and when we come back tired in the afternoon, our meal is ready - tasty and healthy, like in a restaurant.
"We cook mainly stews, rice and lentils, legumes and vegetables, but also chicken, meat, fish and patties. Sometimes I sauté the onions or other vegetables first, on the gas stove, add seasonings and then set everything to slow-cook in the sun. Sometimes we even cook enough for several days, and use the solar oven for reheating. The food comes out delicious."
Since the main meal of the day in Israel tends to be lunchtime, you can put the raw ingredients in your solar oven in the morning, and it will be ready by noon. The result is supposed to be super-succulent and tasty too.