January 6, 2011

Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Days

Sunday 28th July

Solar stewed blackberries at 75 degrees Celsius

A few sunny spells amidst a mainly cloudy grey sky day. Optimistically we opened up the flat pack solar cooker – newly modelled  out of thin ply, black tape and aluminium tape.

For the Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Day visitors we made refreshing seasonal drinks –  whilst Lucy demonstrated how to use the new solar cooker. Vince had been foraging and brought his findings – a punnet of blackberries  – picked that morning from around Waltham Abbey.

So with blackberries, lime, a little icing sugar and water

we made a solar stewed blackberry and lime juice

in a blackened pot covered in a plastic bag. This solar cooker is lightweight and adaptable – its best angle depends on the sunlight and for further improvements Lucy suggests we place a grate under the pan – reducing shadow impact. Despite little sun when the clouds passed and the sun peeped out- even for a few minutes –  the water temperature rose quite fast!

Maximum temperature reached: 75 degrees Celsius – fine for blackberry juice. Warming and refreshing. Getting to boiling point is a challenge – virtually impossible here? but solar cooking is perfect for slow cooking, stews etc – barbeques too.

We’re in the testing phase –  everyone came up with some great solar cooking ideas – and so now we wait to catch the next heatwave.  The flat pack Solar cooker was made by Lucy Sheldon. Thanks to Amanda for helping out and Lucas too!

Sunday 27th June

Sister Swirl Stove arrives

It was another scorching summers Open Day at the Hawkwood Plant Nursery

Elderflower cordial on tap to quench the thirsts. Great to see a few familiar faces arriving….including a surprise visitor – Andrew Heggy with his new invention Sister Swirl Stove, this one slightly more compact than his first model ( that we use constantly for boiling water) is designed for portability.

Energy Cafe is slowly building a resource of portable handmade stoves. We’d asked Andrew if he could design one  – that would be easy to carry and move around.

We’re very happy to meet Sister Swirl, looking forward to testing during future cook ups. Now we have the brother and sister swirl stoves and the flat pack solar cooker…many more possibilities …from storm kettles, rocket stoves to tin can micro cookers and hay boxes. If you would like to add to the energy cafe portable cooker and stove resource  do get in touch.

Sister Swirl Stove is made of bits from a luggage rack, a microphone stand and  a fire extingusher. The fan is from a computer. 

Andrew gave an insightful introduction how it works and explained the concept “it is that it gives you the three things that you need in a fire – you need a high temperature, you need turbulence – for gas mixing and you need time for the flame to burn out and that’s what these things combine.”

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