Tag Archives: cookware

Mixing Bowl Solar Tea

Summer in the desert. Warm 113-degree temperatures. Phoenix just broke a record yesterday  – 29 days (so far) this year with a temperature of 110 degrees or more (the “normal” is 10 days per year).  When it’s this hot, it’s important to stay well hydrated, and iced tea is a good refreshing beverage. 

 Those of you in the southwest and possibly elsewhere make or have at least heard of “sun tea” – fill a large glass jar with water, add teabags, and set out in the sun for a few hours to brew.  The slower, lower-temperature infusion makes a very smooth brew.  In addition, it’s solar powered – no fuel or electricity is expended boiling water (and heating the kitchen, fighting the air conditioning). 

Well, I wanted to make some sun tea today, but didn’t have a suitable jar handy.  I do, however, have a nice shiny stainless steel mixing bowl.  How did that come to mind?  Well, recently I’d left it outside with a plastic measuring cup inside, and the bowl focused the sunlight intensely enough to melt the measuring cup. I thought if it got hot enough to do that, then maybe it would work well for sun tea, and possibly faster than a glass jar do to the fact that the reflective bowl will concentrate the heat in the tea.  There’s only one way to find out – TRY IT!

So, I filled the bowl with water, added four regular size teabags, covered with plastic wrap (to keep bugs out and keep the heat in) and set the bowl out in the sun. 

After a couple hours in the sun, the brew was quite warm and looked to be the right color.  I added a cup of sugar and a couple trays of ice cubes (in a bigger container, of course) and had some delightful iced tea!  Oh – the tea I used was Twinings “Lemon Scented Tea” – Gives the drink a definite lemon flavor, but much more smooth and subtle than when adding lemon juice to regular tea.  I have some Twinings Black Currant and some Hedley’s Peach-Apricot that I can’t wait to make mixing-bowl tea with now!

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Cast Iron Cooking

When I was deciding what to take and what to leave, I’d opted to leave my cast iron cookware behind (in the interest of saving space and weight).  Not that I was gonna try and cook on some cheapie thin “camping” or “RV” cookware – I brought along a few pieces of quality stainless plus some heavy non-stick-coated aluminum.  Who was I fooling? NOTHING else cooks like cast iron.  Especially breakfast foods like bacon, sausage, eggs, and pancakes.  Sure… a non-stick aluminum skillet or griddle will work, sort of.  But they tend not to be as non-stick as they purport, and, especially with the eggs and pancakes, they just don’t brown the same nor taste the same as when cooked on well-seasoned cast iron.

 Well, I now have my Lodge skillet and griddle on board, and tossed out the Teflon-on-aluminum skillet and griddle, and I’m once again a “happy camper”.  And yes, I said “Lodge”.  Those who know me well know I’m not a brand name snob nor a name dropper, but once in a while there is a product or brand that stands out so far above the rest that even I will call it by name and will go out of my way to buy that brand and only that brand.  Lodge, being the last remaining manufacturer in the USA of cast iron cookware, which is both reasonably priced and of excellent quality, deserves such name-brand recognition, even from a die-hard generic consumer such as myself.

So life is once again good, mealtime is good, cooking (and eating) is once again a joy, even if the motorhome (and eventually myself) winds up being a few pounds heavier for it.  Now where’d I put that cornbread recipe?