Cooking with a Solar Oven

Cooking with a solar oven…a new experience for me this week. I have the Sport Solar Oven, but there are many different brands of solar ovens on the market at all different prices. My solar oven had been sitting in the box in which it came for a couple of years, and I finally found some time to unpack it and try it out. I will also credit a friend in Arkansas, Dr. Robert Allen, who had begun to use his solar oven, as an inspiration for me to get mine out and try it.

I decided to start with a recipe that was totally different from the things I usually cook, so that I would not be tempted, at least initially, to compare the solar oven results with recipes I had been cooking for years. I’ll move to my familiar recipes later, over the course of the summer. I looked over the recipes that came with the solar oven, and when I went to the store I found some beautiful pork chops that were on special this week. So, I decided to try this recipe first.

I started by preheating the oven in the sun while I was doing the food preparation. The temp in the oven was 250 F when I put the food in at 10:00 am. The temp in the solar oven quickly dropped to 150 F, then slowly climbed back up to around 250 F. Between 4:00 and 4:30 pm, the temp in the oven dropped rapidly back to around 210 F, even though there was plenty of sun and the ambient temp was 100 F in the shade of my back porch. The solar ovens stress the importance of the angle of the sun, and I became a believer with my first use of the solar oven. Some of the solar ovens come with reflectors. For my oven, reflectors can be purchased separately. I plan to buy reflectors for use in the winter when the angle of the sun is very low on the horizon, even on the bright and sunny winter days here in the desert southwest.

First layer - pork chops

First layer – pork chops

Second layer

Second layer – cabbage, onions, apple

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Another Nice Photography Award

Another nice photography award has come my way this month. I photograph to please myself, but knowing that other people appreciate an image is like icing on the cake.

My image, “Lily,” was awarded a Bronze Medal at the 2012 PX3, Prix De La Photographie Paris. It will be exhibited in Paris in July.

This is the official press release from PX3:

WINNER OF PX3, Prix de la Photographie Paris
Susan Brandt Graham of United States was Awarded Third Prize in the PX3 2012 Competition.

Paris, France
Prix de la Photographie Paris (Px3) announces winners of PX3 2012 competition.

Susan Brandt Graham of United States was Awarded: Third Prize in category Nature for the entry entitled, ” Lily .” The jury selected PX3 2012’s winners from thousands of photography entries from over 85 countries.

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The Tough Daylily

The tough daylily- yes, you can water it, fertilize it, and otherwise care for it, but it seems to be one of those plants that does well in Albuquerque, cared for or not.

The tough daylily

Daylilies freely blooming at abandoned adobe

The entire Southwest has abandoned adobe buildings, and especially houses, all over. At one time the mud construction was very practical here in the desert. But, adobe requires a lot of maintenance. It made sense when people lived on and worked the land, but for people going to jobs elsewhere, adobe maintenance simply is not worth the time, effort, and expense.
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Small Garden with Roses

This small garden with roses is a wonderful example of the creation of beauty in a small space.

Small Garden with Roses

Small Garden with Roses

This photograph was taken in May of 2012, and the clematis as well as many of the roses were in full bloom. Not, in late June, the clematis are bloomed out, as are most of the roses until August. The rose of sharon, “Blushing Bride,” is, however, blooming prolifically in the heat. I’ll try to get over to photograph the rose of sharon later this week or over the weekend.

A partial listing of roses seen blooming in this small garden would include:
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About the Header

The new header was taken on May 20, the day of the annular eclipse, for which Albuquerque had a prime viewing location. My mother, a friend, and I had watched from a spot which gave us an unobstructed view of the western horizon. We had our “Eclipse Shades” and were able to see the eclipse from the beginning until the still partially eclipsed sun sank below the horizon. It was at that moment that the photograph from which this header came was taken.

Blog Header © Susan Brandt Graham

Blog Header © Susan Brandt Graham
Setting sun, still partially eclipsed; view across the Rio Grande Valley from the Sandia foothills

This view from the Sandia foothills, looking across Albuquerque and the Rio Grande Valley to the West Mesa, gives a feel for the high desert in which those of us in Albuquerque garden. You can see the rocks, and you can almost feel the heat and dryness. Just to clarify, I love the high desert with its brilliant light. But gardening here is not like gardening in a non-desert climate.

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Rose Photography in the PSWD

One of the things that has taken my time away from this blog was my work in creating and then serving as the first Chair of the Pacific Southwest District of the ARS Rose Photography Committee, from its creation into 2012. I have been photographing roses and teaching about photographing roses. I also maintained a website, blog, and forum for rose photography in the Pacific Southwest District, which took my time away from this blog.

It has been very exciting to see the addition of Photography as a separate division in some of our rose shows. Watching its spread throughout the PSWD shows has been equally exciting. Partially in response to this work, the American Rose Society created a Rose Photography Committee in August of 2011. I am one of the initial members, and I’ll continue my work with rose photography through that committee. The website, blog, and forum for PSWD Photography are being removed, so that there is not conflict as the ARS Committee gets down to work.

The history of the work in the PSWD from 2008-2012, and the Rose Photography Guidelines produced are here:

History of Rose Photography in the PSWD, 2008-2012

PSWD Photography Guidelines as of June, 2012

rose photography: Spray of hybrid tea rose, 'Gemini'

Spray of hybrid tea rose, ‘Gemini’


Updates Will Be Coming

After some period of neglect while I was very busy with more pressing things, I am ready to devote some time to this blog.

When I stopped by tonight, I was amazed at the statistics, given the fact there have been no new posts in some time.

The blog will be undergoing some changes along with updates, so please be patient if you come and the blog is down – it just means some long-needed maintenace is being done.

Thanks to loyal readers! New material should be up soon.

In the meantime, you might also enjoy looking at another of my sites, Susan Brandt Graham Photography.