"Have him back by five!" Mom bawled
up the driveway at my Uncle Bob. Her voice could unearth moles
in the lawn. She had every right to be worried. Uncle Bob was,
in today's PC-speak, an "alternative cognitive reasoner."
A little "loose," you might say. Out there. But in
those days we just referred to him as a crackpot. This was very
exciting to a ten-year-old boy.
Off we went. What strange tale would Uncle Bob have to tell?
Last time we met he had taught me how to trap ants, though he
had never explained why I might need this skill. I guessed that
he, like most adults, had a secret reason.
For today's excursion, my uncle had asked me to bring nothing
but a pair of hiking boots and my father's tin snips. As my
Dad doesn't like people to touch his tools, I just decided to
Deep into the woods we trudged, past the power lines and past
an old rusted-out station wagon. We came to a clearing, a clearing
that was not clear. It was littered with the trash of those
that had passed before us. Uncle Bob's face became long.
"How long will we be out, Uncle Bob?"
"Hard to say. We have to gather supplies, assemble, rotate,
calculate... Maybe 'til seven or eight."
"Okay, Jeff. You ready for your mission?"
"Find me 25 soda cans."
Uncle Bob was a suburban eco-environmentalist in the days before
it was hip. Not wanting to disappoint him I gathered cans for
the next four hours as he sat on a rock guarding the contents
of the brown paper sack he carried.
After I proudly handed over my bounty, he had me cut off the
ends of the cans and split them down the center like trout.
He carefully laid each one out flat. From the brown sack he
produced a roll of silver duct tape and connected the soda cans
into one big, flat sheet.
"What are you doing, Uncle Bob?"
"Wait. Just Wait"
He bent the sheet in the center to create a sixty-degree angle
with the labels all facing to the outside.
"Uncle Bob. I'm hungry"
"Grab me a stick, boy."
He opened his brown sack again and whipped out four uncooked
hotdogs. Without warning he slammed them down on the stick and
using the tape connected the stick equidistant from the interior
sides of this odd bunch of cans.
"Uncle Bob, What the hell "
"Watch your mouth and pay attention. I am teaching you
how to survive in the wilderness. We've just used natural resources
to build a solar oven."
"Why don't we just build a fire?"
"The smoke would draw attention to us!"
Over the next six hours we rotated the dogs and repositioned
the oven to follow the arc of the sun. In the end we feasted
on the dogs. We didn't make it home until well after 9:30. Mom
was ... well, you know how moms can be.
Over time and experimentation, I have refined the process of
producing the same succulent solar dogs Uncle Bob taught me
1 24"L x 15"W x 15"H Cardboard
1 30' Stick
4 Hotdogs or Tofu Dogs (for the veggie crowd)
Cut the box diagonally across the 15"
x 15" side.
Line the inside with aluminum foil (shiny
Cut holes for the stick on either side
of the box about three inches below the diagonal cut in the box.
Place four dogs on the stick. Position
the inside of the box toward the sun.
Note: Be sure to pay attention to the angle
that achieves the maximum solar reflection. It is important to
turn the dogs every hour and also to reposition the box so as
to catch the flow of sunlight.
"Guerrilla Gourmet" welcomes your anecdotal
recipe submissions celebrating the ingenuity of American cuisine.
Follow us quarterly as we journey across this land in search of
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