Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sun Oven? in Alberta?

What the heck is a Sun Oven? and can it possibly be of any value in Alberta? 

A Sun Oven is a cooking solution for energy conservation or emergency preparedness. It is a durable appliance that can reach 400 degrees Farenheit - yes, even in Alberta! Hey, we have more sun year round than most other locations. Its not the temperature you're supposed to think of here, its the 'sun', and even in the winter, Alberta gets plenty of sun.

Devised for areas where heat sources are expensive at best, non existant at worst - a sun oven is the perfect way to harness the sun's rays to cook outside in the heat of a summer's day, without heating up the kitchen too. But the same principle that works in the summer, works in every season - just with variation and a little ingenuity. Angle your Sun Oven to catch the rays of the sun, and let nature do the rest. With special reflectors and a tempered glass door to retain the sun's powerful heat, the Sun Oven can cook anything that can be baked in a conventional oven: breads, cakes, muffins, pizza, vegetables, poultry, fish, meats, casseroles, grains, pastas and desserts. It lets you harness the power of the sun to cook without fuel. How simple and yet how clever is that? 

Working like a greenhouse, the Sun Oven will work on any sunny day at any time of the year - rays from the sun can pass through the glass front, but a good deal of the longer waves can't find their way back out. The result: heat is trapped inside. For convenience, the Sun Oven comes equipped with an oven thermometre, and can reach as high as 400 degrees and can be adjusted by adjusting oven and reflectors. It is not difficult to maintain a 350 degrees oven.

The adjustable Sun Oven reflectors allow you to take advantage of differing sun positions - depending on time of day and season. It is easy to take anywhere there is sunshine. When closed, it is as portable as a small suitcase. With the Sun Oven, you will be prepared for any interruption to traditional power sources, able to cook any kind of food as well as boiling water. As long as there is sunshine, you will have the power you need to cook your meals.

Hints for increasing the efficiency of Sun Oven in winter months: 
1) The sun is so low during the winter that the solar oven and reflectors need to be tilted at nearly a 90 degree angle. 
2) Turn the cooker frequently, especially when needing a constant high heat like for breads or muffins. 
3) Best cooking time is between 10 AM - 2 PM. After 3:00 on short days, the sun is too low for solar cooking. 
4) To increase circulation of your cooker on cold clear winter days, wrap the body of the cooker in an old blanket. 
5) For highest heat, check for gaps between glass and the box. Should be a tight close. 

 Available at Generations LDS Bookstore -

WHY do Mormons Store Food?

Being a niche LDS Bookstore, we haven't had much to draw non latter-day saints into our store, unless they're looking for a gift for their 'Mormon' friend or relative. But more and more during these last few years, we are seeing non LDS people come into our store - because of they're interest in food storage, and emergency preparedness. Evidently we are the 'go-to' people on the subject. I wish I believed that most of us are complying with the counsel we have received all our lives to actually BE the 'go-to' people about food storage. We certainly have plenty of history directing us to do so. .... But that is a subject for another day. 

 One day, as I was helping a customer with his purchase of THRIVE Freeze Dried foods, he asked me
 "Do YOU (meaning you 'mormons') do THIS (meaning store large amounts of food) for the same reason WE (meaning all us non-mormon preppers) do?"
hmmmm, I had to guess at all the reasons non-latterday saints might be on a self reliance kick. "I assume" I answered, "that the reason you 'do' this, is because of the things we read in the newspapers and internet?" He nodded. "Well I have to admit that I certainly am interested in all those same things, but no, that is NOT why we store food and do our best to prepare our families for potential emergencies. We would do it anyway. I have lived like this my entire married life. I was raised with the idea of food storage. We 'do' this because we have been directed to to do it."

The truth is - if there was no external evidence confirming the wisdom of it, we would store food anyway. In fact, for most of our married life, we have endured polite chuckles from our non-member family, and not just a little bit of 'eye-rolling' because of our irrational practise of buying more than we need for the purpose of storing the excess. We have been called 'hoarders', and a few other things. My inclination to be like "Ma" on "Little House on the Prairie" was a source of much amusement to some. And I have to admit, although I never once second guessed our choices, I got tired of the ribbing. We started to keep part of us a little more private. Things like:
- our practise of buying and receiving books as the gift of choice for every occassion for every person in our family.
- my husband's birthday gift to me one year was a clothes line. That drew some raised eyebrows from his co-workers. "You're buying Cindy a WHAT? for her birthday?" Incidently it was my favourite gift! And when we moved, I got another one for another birthday. 
- that we ground our own flour, and bought wheat by the bushel; that a wheat grinder was the most used appliance in our house.
- I have an herb garden that keeps us in fresh, dried or frozen herbs all year long
- that we have a 250 gallon water tank in our basement
- that we have a wood stove in our family room and every fall collect wood for the winter, even though we live in the city ....
Lets face it, from the perspective of our non-LDS relatives, we were a bit excentric (to say the least). 

So. Why DO Mormons store food? Its certainly nothing new. I grew up in a less-active home where the gospel was not taught nor practised, but my parents were both raised in Mormon homes and they brought acceptance of the food storage practise into their marriage. It wasn't a religious thing, it simply made sense. It was in their blood.

“In the day of plenty, prepare for the day of scarcity.” was the “Message of the First Presidency,” in Conference Report, April 1942. 
“Learn to sustain yourselves; lay up grain and flour, and save it against a day of scarcity.”
President Brigham Young
When I was a young married woman trying to live the gospel by observing how others did it - always from the outside looking in, food storage was a principle I understood and could live with conviction.

“Everyone who owns a home recognizes the need for fire insurance. We hope and pray that there will never be a fire. Nevertheless, we pay for insurance to cover such a catastrophe, should it occur. We ought to do the same with reference to family welfare.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
“Many more people could ride out the storm-tossed waves in their economic lives if they had their … supply of food … and were debt-free. Today we find that many have followed this counsel in reverse: they have at least a year’s supply of debt and are food-free.”
President Thomas S. Monson
“It is within everyone’s grasp,” explains Presiding Bishop Burton "The first step is to begin. The second is to continue. It doesn’t matter how fast we get there so much as that we begin and continue according to our abilities.”

In a Nutshell. The answer to 'WHY?' is a simple one. We are directed to store food and to be self reliant by those we sustain as prophets, seers and revelators, who speak the will of our Heavenly Father. It so happens that to "lay up in store" at the moment is a cool thing to do. In fact there is a whole cult following of the principles of self reliance. They even have a cool nick name - "PREPPERS". Who knew? We were preppers long before it was cool to be one.
I don't know that our non-lds family is still not rolling their eyes at our practices, but I don't care anymore now than I did for all those difficult years when food storage wasn't cool.

- Cindy Suelzle