Thursday, July 7, 2011

Solar cooking and wax pinecones

With the summer sun beating down so hot, it's a great time for solar cooking.  Here's a picture of a solar cooker I made three years ago, essentially from trash (the aluminum foil and glue were the only never-before-used items).

I got the idea for a solar cooker out of my favorite book, The Tightwad Gazette.  I also tried using it to make crayons -- I had melted crayons into car shapes using plastic jello molds in my kitchen oven.  The problem with the solar cooker is it got so hot, it melted the molds!  Since then,  I have loved using this cooker for vegetable stews.

This year, I decided to use it for one of my messier projects from the same book:  making wax-covered pinecones.  In this case, I started with a bunch of candles I got super-cheap at yard sales.  You'll notice a lot of the candles are red.  (Have I ever mentioned that yard sales are full of Christmas decorations that nobody wants?  Oh, yeah, I have).

I put a few candles in the black pot and let them cook a few hours; they got really soft and runny.

Then I dipped into the pot, one at a time, about 30 pinecones I'd collected.  These make really beautiful fire-starters for my dad's fireplace.  They'll be part of my Christmas gift to him this year.  If he doesn't like them, he doesn't have to put them on display at a yard sale; he can just burn them!  Of course, if he likes them, he'll burn them, too.  Hmmm . . .

I got that pot at a yard sale for a quarter.  I really like having a pot dedicated to just wax . . . so now I'm in the market for another one.  I've seen small baskets with three pinecones for sale in stores for several dollars.  Wow, it's hard for me to imagine someone actually paying for pinecones!

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