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April 10, 2009



In the early 60's I remember my anthropology professor discussing these things. People thought it would save poor women in India and Africa a lot of time that they otherwise would have to spend gathering wood. The cookers worked fine after a little adjustment here and there but the women hated them--seems gathering wood was there only break away from their husbands and families. Kind of like watching Oprah.


**THEIR husbands and families***


As a proper conservative...

Uh, oh. Can a TCO crankfest be far behind?
TM apparently has no mercy in baiting the poor dope even on Good Friday.


I would rather collect wood than watch Oprah!

JM Hanes

True dat, Ann.

Uncle pinky

Boiling water at 175 F. seems somewhat problematic to me. This one does seem better than some similar contraptions I've seen, so good for this fellow.

Rick Ballard

"Boiling water at 175 F. seems somewhat problematic to me."

Only below 20,500 feet in altitude. It's a piece of cake above it.


I wonder if Joe Biden still thinks this is a cool idea.



I would rather collect wood than watch Oprah!

I would rather hit myself in the head with a piece of wood than watch Oprah.


Ok, this is a flimsy excuse to tell an off-topic story...

Scouts are known for the "cardboard box oven." Take a cardboard box and completely line it with foil. Run some wires through the sides to form simple shelves. Light some charcoal using a charcoal chimney. When it is ready, pour the coals into a pan and put them in the oven. Put food to bake in the oven, and shut the box flaps to retain the heat.

We did this last fall as part of our outdoor cooking merit badge. I predicted beforehand that we could have two possible outcomes -- it would work, and we would have a yummy dessert; or the oven would burst into flames -- all good, right? (The instructions included multiple warnings that if the foil gets even a pinhole in it the whole thing would burn to ashes in seconds.)

What actually happened is that I set the coals in a disposable aluminum pan, not noticing the instructions about putting the pan elevated off of the bottom of the oven. We cooked in it (biscuits, mmmm) then I took the coals out and took them over to dump them in the campfire. As I walked up to the campfire, one of the dads calmly noted that the pot holder was on fire, which I realized seconds later as I pivoted my hand to dump and the flames licked up my hand. I dropped the pot holder and stomped it out with no damage to my hand, but burned the foot off of the teddie bear applique. Then I went back to the cardboard box oven. The bottom of the oven was trapped between the picnic table that we were cooking on and the foil liner, so little air could get in and so it was smoldering lightly. When I picked up the oven, it burst into flames. It burnt out pretty quickly -- it was mostly over by the time I got the water there.

So, yes, we got a twofer! We got to cook, AND it burst into flame!


LOL, Cathyf!

When they asked me to be a leader I negotiated several items before accepting:

1. I can not sing/will not sing

2. I will not wear green polyester

3. Absolutely, no camping!

I wish I had the foresight about being a cookie mother. YIKES

Good for you! Your daughter will have great memories and now the teddie bear applique has Girl Scout patina!


cathy--between you and the cooker and Hit and the chainsaw, I think this outdoor stuff is way too dangerous for JOMers to continue to engage im.

Think of the children.


What fun, Cathy. I'll bet your scouts are still talking about that adventure.


Above 20500? Is there still enough oxygen to actually allow a fire to burn? I tend to stay well below that level here in Texas and not having a rocket ship or a plane, I cant make a personal observation so someone will have to inform me of how rarified the air really is almost 4 miles up.


Once a scout for a time, I later went to an summer camp that specialized in camping, canoeing, etc. Spending some 4-5 summers at the latter I grew to appreciate how scouting under typical casual leadership can result in just enough woodsy knowledge to be dangerous.

I have a healthy respect for the wilds and rivers of the Adirondacks and northern Canada and wouldn't trade for the world my detailed knowledge of the outdoors and my further understanding that I do not yet know enough.

rosie o'donnell

Fire won't burn cardboard. Google it.


Fire won't burn cardboard

Dang! Google must be right. I wonder what happened to all that cardboard in my fires over the years.


I think this outdoor stuff is way too dangerous for JOMers to continue to engage im.

Well, I've spent 20+ years logging and still have all my fingers, toes and eyebrows. And logging almost always is conducted outdoors. :)

Above 20500? Is there still enough oxygen to actually allow a fire to burn?

Not only do the camp stoves used by mountaineers on K2, Everest, etc demonstrate that there is, but both piston engine and jet airplanes, which unlike rockets, do not carry their own oxidants surely prove there is sufficient oxygen for combustion up to 80-100,000 feet in the case of the SR 71 and U-2.


I designed this book in 1974 and I see that there are many updates and new additions. There are several photos of my daughter, now 38 years old, on the inside. In fact, I think her knees are on the front cover. Dian Thomas had a jillion ways to cook stuff, including making hamburgers on the manifold while a car is running.

I was a Girl Scout for many years. Glad to see JOM moms are involved.

Jane made her famous salmon for me last night. Yummm. I retreated from my work in Hartford for a weekend in Sturbridge. A good decision.

Come to think of it, one could probably cook salmon on the car manifold.


Joe isn't a cardboard oven. He traded his Treasury write offs for the IMF loans that private banks like Buffet won't write off. His rating dropped and he isn't the guy who screwed FOX in Georgia, not that Moldavia isn't jealous of Obama and his Moslem Turkey thing and the the EU.......

So, like, will Africa get those IMF loans and have them written of by Joe like Treasury?


How high up is the peak of K2


I think PJ O'Rourke mocked this device in one of his books.


Great post - keep up the great work!


Of course, 'Steve" only has approved comments on his own blog. commoncts uses no common cents. His autocomment is rude. Left him a comment to approve that says so.


I saw an article in the Financial Times about it. It's a great invention but I'm not in favor of that company using taxpayer money to pay for making and selling it then having that company make a profit of about $20 per "oven."


Sounds like a Sun Powered Tasty Bake oven to me.

Wonder where I can get some of those tiny little boxes of cake mix?



Maybe she ants a free shuttle trip!


During my scout leader days, we experimented with solar cookers, mostly as a novelty since what the girls really wanted to do was build big campfires and incinerate marshmallows. I still have the book I bought for our experiments, published in 1995 (Solar Cooking A Primer/Cookbook by Harriet Kofalk, pub by The Book Publishing Company in Tennessee). The organization Solar Cookers International has solar cooker products listed for sale in this book (advertised temp achieved was 350 F). Also pages & pages of detailed plans for building your own cooker. We did build one with cardboard, an old glass window and lots of duct tape,and baked cookies in it - solar cookers get surprisingly hot in full sun! I agree that it seems rather lame to take credit for inventing something that's been around for 40 years.

Robert Speirs

Since this kind of cooker has been around forever, why isn't it in wide use, since it's so cheap and easy? There must be a reason. Maybe it's just that the new green way of thinking is just much smarter than those dumb poor people.


How high up is the peak of K2

28,000+, just a few hundred feet lower than Everest (much harder to climb incidentally) but no one carries a stove to the summit.
Advance camps are well over 21,500 however.


I should add that it took all day to bake that one batch of cookies in the solar cooker here in the midwest USA, which could explain why it's never caught on. If you have no options other than a cardboard box and all the time in the world, it does work. But perhaps the attention this particular solar cooker is receiving could be because it's not called a solar cooker, it's called the "Kyoto Box".


The highest flying air breathers are ramjets that take what little air there is and compress it into a workable volume along the lines of a turbocharger.


Why are they handing out awards for failed innovations?

Like everyone has pointed out, this has been around for decades. If it were actually useful, it would be in widespread use by now.

But it's not. It's an ivory tower toy.

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