While I’d hardly classify the day and a half we had without power as an extreme emergency situation, after all, only a few hundred homes in our neighborhood were affected and at nearby stores and restaurants it was business as usual, it was good practice and I did learn one important thing: it’s not a good time to try something new. The second day we were without power was extremely clear, sunny, and perfect for solar cooking. I couldn’t think of anything more comforting than a hot cooked solar meal.

To keep with the spirit of preparedness I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand. An acorn squash and a box of risotto mix seemed promising. I thought I could cook the rice in the squash, something I’ve done many times with pasta or couscous. I also thought the rice wouldn’t need nearly as much water as the package instructions called for and that was a big mistake. After about an hour in the Sun Oven the squash was ready; the rice was uncooked and inedible. I tried stirring in a bit more water and letting it cook for another 20 minutes or so, but the end result was a chalky, unappetizing mush. At this point I was so hungry I ate it anyway. Needless to say it was not the comforting hot meal I’d been looking forward to. Next time I’m in a similar situation I’ll stick to things I know and leave the experimentation for less stressful times.

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