This week's hack: Make a solar oven
Shade of green: Adolescent spruce
Items needed: Cardboard box at least 18" square and as deep as whatever you want to cook, black construction paper, tin foil, clear plastic, non-toxic glue, pen, tape, scissors or utility knife (put down the beer first, ok?), ruler, piece of dowel or stick or whatnot
Why this hack: Because it's as fun and simple and cheap as they come. Hey, that sounds like the personal ads I've been running lately.
In a few simple steps, convert an ordinary box into a beauteous, practical solar oven.
Heart of the hack: Trace a border around the top of your box, about an inch inside the edges. Cut three sides, leaving one as a "hinge." This is your oven door. Nice, eh?
Now, cut and glue a square of aluminum foil to the underside of your door, and cut a piece of plastic just a little larger than the opening. Remember how, when you were a devious little punk kid, you used to fry ants with a magnifying glass? This is your magnifying glass, only this time, you're gonna be frying, well, hopefully not ants.
Next, line the bottom of the box with foil and then cover the foil with a piece of black construction paper. Tape it in place. Place your famous tofu-and-lima-bean casserole in your new oven, close the plastic lid, and prop open the foil-covered door at an angle that best reflects sunlight through the plastic and into the oven.
Grab a drink, kick back, and call all your friends. Just don't tell 'em what's for dinner.
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