Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Urn Jacket - What the best dressed Urns are wearing.

I work at a school where coffee and tea are available all day. It occurred to me that a lot of energy is being wasted keeping the urn on all day.   I carried out an experiment using first one layer and then two layers of batting in an urn jacket.

On 6 trials the urn used an average of 0.280kW/Hour, with one layer it was 0,215kW/h and 2 layers and a hat brought it down to 0,198kW/h.   This is a saving of 37%.   The saving is not so much in the initial boiling of the urn but in it maintaining its temperature.

The urn has to be fitted for size and holes for handles, controls and outlets.   I used velcro to connect padded strips above the handles and at the front top and bottom.   The eyes are just for fun.   The hat is a circular cushion with a hole in the middle, filled with polystyrene beads which help it settle down on the slightly domed surface of the lid. An elastic band was initially used to keep the jacket snug but is no longer necessary.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Ten of the Best energy efficient ways to cook...




1 cup rice, 2 cups boiling water, 1 chicken stock cube dissolved in the water. Boil on stove or gel stove for 5 minutes with the lid on, then place in hot box for an hour or more.


Place in a black pot in a solar cooker in the sun for two or three hours

Roast Chicken

Use a Weber Braai or buy ready cooked from a supermarket.

Fried chicken.

Microwave for 5 minutes then fry in a little oil until lightly browned. Turn off the heat when one side is done and flip.


Solar cooking can’t be beaten

Packet vanilla muffins

Add raisins and solar cook for 2 -3 hours. Brown tops under a TV grill if desired, or top with water icing


¼ cup oats, ¾ cup boiling water and microwave 2 minutes for 1 serving or boil up a family size pot and cook in a hot box overnight.


Solar cooked roasts are tender and juicy.

Cottage Pie

Use a quantity of budget mince, make up some Smash and grill under a TV grill to brown

Mealie Meal (2)

Preheat the required amount of water plus salt (in a sun stove or other method) When the water is hot, it doesn’t have to boil, add the mealie meal, stir in and leave in the sunstove to cook.


1. “Potjiekos” by Marlene Hammann published by Human and Rousseau pg 15

2. “Sunstove 2000 Helpful Hints and recipes” Produced by Sunstove Organisation

P.O.Box 21960 Crystal Park 1515 Tel:(011)969-2818

Meringue baskets

(using a solar cooker only)
Meringues cooked in a solar oven are superior to those cooked in a conventional oven. They stay fluffy and white and will impress all your friends. Meringue baskets can be filled with ice cream, cream, berries or anything that your imagination can suggest. These quantities make 3 – 6 baskets depending on size.
3 egg whites
1 cup sugar or castor sugar
1tsp lemon juice
Beat egg whites with one teaspoon of the sugar until stiff. Add the rest of the sugar gradually beating well in between. Use a piping bag to form baskets onto a baking tray which fits into your solar cooker. Start with a circular base and then pipe the sides on top of the base. Make meringue triangles for garnish. Cook in the solar cooker facing the sun for two to three hours. Fill with ice cream or other filling of your choice.

Carrot Pudding

Carrot Pudding

(uses a solar cooker only)

1 ½ cups cake flour 1 cup grated raw carrot

1 tsp salt 1 ½ cups finely chopped peeled apple

1 ¼ tsp cinnamon ¾ cup raisins

¼ tsp cloves 1 cup light brown sugar

½ tsp nutmeg ½ cup margarine.

Cream margarine, add sugar and beat well. Add carrot, apple and raisins and mix together well. Add the dry ingredients, mixing well. Turn into 6 individual moulds. Place in a flat bottomed black pot (eg a flat potjie pot) with half a cup of water in the bottom. Place in a solar cooker in the sun before 10am. Serve with ice cream or custard.


Caramel Squares


Uses Solar cooker only

185g flour 1 tin Caramel Treat

125g margarine 200g dark chocolate

60g castor sugar

Cream the margarine and mix in the sugar and flour. Press the mixture into a rectangular greased tin and place in a solar cooker in the sun before 10am. After about two hours break the chocolate into pieces and place in a glass or plastic bowl. Retrieve the shortbread base and place the chocolate in the solar cooker. Spread the caramel treat over the shortbread. When the chocolate has melted, pour it over the caramel and allow to cool. Before it has completely hardened, score the chocolate into squares to make cutting easier.


Holiday Chicken


Holiday Chicken

(using a solar cooker and an optional backup source of heat)

This recipe is based on a potjie recipe by the Van Rooyens of Garsfontein. (1) The lemon peel adds zest to the dish. The recipe serves 4-6 people and can be served with a fresh salad and homemade bread. A flat cast iron pot or other black pot can be used.



500ml low fat natural yoghurt

250ml dry white wine

10ml dried thyme

10ml grated lemon peel

1 packet cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup powder.

Salt to taste

4 -6 deboned skinless chicken fillets

1 large onion, chopped

2 green peppers, chopped

1 small packet button mushrooms sliced in half

½ cup rice

200-300g sliced carrots

2 baby potatoes per person, cut in half

100g dried apricots

200g frozen casserole vegetables or green beans

Whisk the sauce ingredients together. Brown onions , chicken and green pepper in a little oil in a cast iron pot on electric stove or gas stove or Bioheat stove(optional). Add the rest of the ingredients. Pour the sauce over the top and replace the lid.

Place the pot in a solar cooker in the sun before 10am and leave until the potatoes are soft (3-5 hours depending on the weather). Can be placed in the sun before work and retrieved after. The solar cooker must then face north in that case. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad.

1. “Potjiekos” by Marlene Hammann published by Human and Rousseau pg 15

Granny Chicken

(uses a solar cooker only)
This recipe is a family favourite and is adapted from a recipe given to me by my mother-in-law. It is a simple no fuss recipe cooked in one pot. It serves 3-5 people.
1 skinned deboned chicken fillet per person
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup chutney
2 cups water
1 pkt Brown Onion soup
40g rice per person
1 – 2 cups frozen casserole vegetables.
Place the chicken fillets at the bottom of a cast iron pot or black pot of suitable size. Mix the next four ingredients together and pour over the chicken. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix all together. Replace the lid and put the pot in a solar cooker facing the sun or facing north if you are going to be out all day. Serve with green peas and tomato wedges. Cooks in about 3 hours depending on the weather.