Sunday, April 22, 2007

Solar Brownies and Bike Rides

Car mileage- ZERO

Bike mileage – Downtown to the Saturday Morning Market for organic veggies, a very cool ride indeed with the bike lanes on 1st North and South making me feel rather safe, then to Sweetbay on 22nd and 34th later in the day. The concept of crossing 22nd Avenue North is daunting, so I took to the sidewalk to get to the front of the grocery.

Between trips I experimented with solar baking by putting together (with the help of my assistant, 11 ¾ year old Tara from Fall River) No Pudge Fat Free Brownies and the warmth of the sun. I’d found instructions to make a solar oven from a pizza box, which looks mighty interesting, but we didn’t have a pizza box and I wasn’t going to ride across town to get one.

I trotted around like a mad scientist looking for the necessary components whileTara mixed the batter. We needed: dark pans, a container with some sort of glass cover, and something to reflect the sun’s rays onto the surface of the pans.

We filled the order for the pans by putting the mix in one eight inch cake pan, and flipping its’ partner over as a lid. We placed the pan inside a wok, covered the wok with a large glass inverted bowl, and placed both on a heatproof pad that anchored my kayak’s emergency blanket – a sheet of shiny silver plastic. The upper corners of the blanket were clothespinned to the ‘hybrid’ dryer…. AKA the clothesline.

Several hours later, we could smell the minty chocolatey gooey brownies. Alas, the day was so windy we hypothesized the temperature wouldn’t get high enough to finish them by sundown, so we resorted to finishing them off in the Advantium speed cooker, which combines microwaves and halogen lighting to cook up to 4 times faster than conventional ovens.

It was enough to redline my eco-meter, to have a young person concerned about the environment, and interested in thinking about what we might do to reduce our impact upon it. Tara told me of a recent science project she’d done, turning empty water bottles into water containers for small mammals, like hamsters and gerbils.

As we worked together on the solar oven, Tara and I were contemplating the possibilities for converting the gas grill to a solar grill, the possibilities of using a great big magnifying lens, and how to make a solar slow cooker.

The brownies were fantastic. The fun even better.

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