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Archive for October, 2010

How to remove Antivirus Studio 2010

…if you can’t get your computer to work in normal mode.

Okay, I’m a geek. An amateur geek. I enjoy taking a computer that is gasping its last breaths, and restoring it to a smoothly-running state.

To date, I’ve done this dozens of times, and I’ve had malware defeat me only once — not, mind you, because I couldn’t remove it, but because it had damaged the master boot record. Being a Vista machine cobbled together by another friend of the computer’s owner, it had no Vista disk (and I suspect it may have been pirated anyway). I downloaded the Vista Recovery Disk supplied by Microsoft, but this was able to do only so much. I needed to reinstall Vista. But I couldn’t find anyone with a Vista disk. With no disk, I could go no further. I did, however, do the one thing the owner of the computer wanted me to do — I rescued all of her pictures and videos from the computer and burned them to CDs, with the help of UBCD4WIN, a very useful bootable Windows environment loaded with useful diagnostic tools.

But I digress. I had not heard of Antivirus Studio 2010 before Friday night, but I immediately knew what it was. This is because I had dealt with programs like it several times before. Some sites politely classify Antivirus Studio 2010 as a “rogue antivirus”. That gives the impression that it actually is an antivirus; maybe it’s just unconventional, and that’s why it’s “rogue”.

Don’t you believe it. It’s every bit as malicious as viruses can be. The Vista computer described above was done in by a so-called rogue antivirus.

So when a friend of mine called me last night about a window that had appeared on her computer screen, I knew what this program was capable of. Thankfully, after a brush with one of these before (no, not the computer mentioned above), she knew it was fake.

I quickly looked up how best to remove the thing. An excellent guide is this one: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/remove-antivirus-studio-2010 . Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me, because the computer would not do anything in normal mode but throw up fake scare messages about viruses and trojans it had supposedly found, about how her computer was spamming, etc., etc., etc.

Alright, so I figured we’d just try it in safe mode. So she had to turn her computer off at the button and then turn it on again to get into safe mode, into her account.

Unfortunately, Malwarebytes (an excellent anti-malware program) doesn’t always run in safe mode. And it wasn’t running at all for her. Online Armor doesn’t run in safe mode, either, so I couldn’t have her go into it and edit program permissions to block Antivirus Studio 2010. Opened the Task Manager, but no processes for it were showing. Opened the Services, but there were no associated services showing. Ack! How were we going to get this thing off?

What we finally resorted to was a long process of search and destroy. I had her set her file permissions to show hidden files and folders, and system files and folders. Then I had her perform a search with advanced options checked to search in hidden and system folders.

First, she searched for “Antivirus Studio 2010″. A few files and folders appeared, and she deleted the ones that it would let her delete. It wouldn’t let her delete the folders, but she was able to go into the folders and delete the files. She searched for “studio”, and that brought up a bunch of files, a few of which were related, and she deleted those. She searched for “antivirus”, and it came up with 10 files, three of which were Avast files, six of which were Antivirus Studio 2010 files, and one of which was named simply “antivirus.evt”. She deleted the six, and was about to delete the one, but I finally found a note someone had posted that said this file seemed to be found on computers with Avast on them. So she didn’t delete it.

I then had her click Start, then Run, and had her type “%temp%” (without quotes) in the box and hit Enter. This brought up her temp folder, and we used the list of files associated with Antivirus Studio 2010 that is on that page linked above at bleepingcomputer to delete the malicious files from her computer. Most of them had gibberish names, but one was interesting — it started with “backd”. As in, “backdoor”. Far from protecting her computer, this “rogue antivirus” was opening her computer up — leaving a “back door” open for other viruses, trojan horses, and worms to download and infect her computer. How nice!

Don’t people have better things to do besides creating programs like this? They do it, though, so they can get your money (“Look at all the fake viruses I found! Now you have to pay $40 for the full version of the program to remove them! Click here now!”) and your information (passwords, credit card numbers, and whatever else, with all those trojan horses it downloads).

At any rate, once she deleted all those files, there were a few more left that looked similar. One had a vulgar name, and I looked it up and found it was malware, so she deleted it. A few others had file extensions like others she deleted. They had been mostly .exe files, but there were a few .exxe and .exex in there. A few of those were left over, so I looked them up, and we deleted those as well.  Then we reset the folder options to hide system files again.

There was one more thing to do before rebooting. You have to make sure the thing is GONE. Some malicious programs will reinstall themselves if there is enough of them left when you reboot. Limewire does this. You uninstall, reboot, and… it’s baaaaaaack.

So I had her run CCleaner. This is something you have to have on there already, or you need to download it to a flash drive or CD so you can install it while you are in safe mode. I had her bring up CCleaner and then click on “run cleaner” in the bottom right corner. This deletes the stuff in the Recycle Bin, and lots of temporary files. Then I had her click on “Registry” on the left. She clicked “scan for issues” and then “fix issues”, backing up her registry when it asked her if she wanted to. This looks through the registry for keys that are no longer associated with programs (like for programs you uninstalled), among other things.

Now, the registry isn’t something to play with lightly, BUT I have never, ever had CCleaner harm a computer. EVER. And I’ve used it like this a couple hundred times now, on dozens of computers.

So with several registry keys related to Antivirus Studio 2010 found and deleted, it was time to reboot into normal mode and see if it was gone. It was.

Malwarebytes was damaged, though, so we uninstalled it and installed a fresh copy. After updating it, I had her run a complete scan. It found and removed four viruses and trojans, probably downloaded by the rogue antivirus we had just removed. Now she had a clean machine.

So… how did she manage to get this infection in the first place? After all, she had learned a lot about web safety (no more Limewire!), and I had replaced her McAfee (I have never liked or trusted McAfee) with Avast and Online Armor. Avast is an excellent antivirus that is free for personal home use, and Online Armor is an excellent firewall which has a free version and a paid version, and the free version is so good that I just go with it. There are some convenience and customization features available with the paid version that the free version doesn’t have, and a little additional security.

I learned that she got the first Antivirus Studio 2010 window when she visited a coupon site, so apparently the site was infected. Online Armor was in Learning Mode for some reason at the time, probably set that way when she installed something and then she forgot to set it back. In Learning Mode, Online Armor just automatically creates permissions for programs, and displays no warnings. So that’s how it got by Online Armor. And Avast? Well, these rogue antiviruses are difficult for real antiviruses to detect, because they don’t act like malware, so the behavior detection is fooled. Then (with some of these programs) another detection is fooled when Avast tries to match the checksum of the program to checksums of known malware, because the checksum will change to avoid a match. Pretty sneaky.

Lessons to take away from this? Well… first, know what security software you have, and how it acts, so, when something pops up, you know whether it’s your software talking to you or not. Make sure you have good security software. McAfee isn’t it. I don’t think it ever was. Norton/Symantec used to be, but isn’t anymore. Now it’s a bloated, invasive sieve. There are several excellent antiviruses out there, and several excellent firewalls, too, and many of them are free.

Another thing is, surf safely.  My friend visited a coupon site, and I have heard that these aren’t always safe.  When she visited it, she got what is called a drive-by download or foistware, which is a program that downloads and installs itself without you knowing, and without your permission.  Sites like those for lyrics, online gaming, porn, computer security (except the few real ones), file sharing, and so on, are favorites for spreading infections and foistware.  Go to sites that are trustworthy, and avoid those you aren’t sure about.  If you really want to visit a site that you don’t know about, then do a search on it first and see if anybody mentions it being a scam or infected.

Another tip:  if you have a window pop up that says your computer is infected and you should let such-and-such program scan your computer, DON’T CLICK.  Not even on “Cancel”, “No Thanks”, or even the red “X”.  To many of these programs, no means yes, cancel means yes, and so does the red X.  To get out of it, if it will let you out, press Alt-Ctrl-Del and bring up the Task Manager.  Select it under the Applications tab and click “End Task”.  Get MalwareBytes and scan your computer to see if anything has installed.  If you can’t get out of it, turn the computer off.  It’s better to have your computer scold you for not shutting it down properly than to install malware that may prevent it from booting again.

If you cannot get the Task Manager to come up, or MalwareBytes, then it probably is installed, and you may have to go through a procedure like we did.  It may not be the recommended way to get rid of malware, but, when you have no alternative, at least you might be able to do that.  It must be done very carefully, so you don’t delete system files.  If in doubt, look the file up before deleting!  It may be better to take the computer to a professional to have it cleaned, really, and I cannot be responsible for anyone crashing their computer because of what I have written here.  I am just trying to add to the options of rescuing a computer that is infested with this “rogue antivirus“, so that people doing a search on it can find some additional help.

Useful links:

Avast antivirus:  http://www.avast.com/index

Online Armor firewall:  http://www.online-armor.com/

MalwareBytes:  http://www.malwarebytes.org/

Comodo firewall (a little geekier than Online Armor):  http://www.comodo.com/home/internet-security/firewall.php

CCleaner (while you’re at it, check out Defraggler!):  http://www.piriform.com/

Where to go for help with malware:  http://forums.majorgeeks.com/forumdisplay.php?f=35  ***Make sure to read the Sticky threads, especially read and do the READ AND RUN ME FIRST thread, before posting anything.  Also, remember the person who will help you is a volunteer, and it may take a couple of days for them to pick up your case.  They have jobs, or are students.  It will not help to bump your thread; in fact, it will make it look like you’re already being helped.***

I could have used UBCD4WIN to remove this rogue antivirus.  But I’m 5 hours away from the affected computer, and I would never expect someone who is not at least as geeky as I am (preferably more geeky than I) to use that.  I could have had her run the cleaning processes at MajorGeeks, and posted her logs, but she uses this computer for her home business, and I couldn’t wait for a response in this case.

I wrote this because, while there are several guides out there to help remove Antivirus Studio 2010, they all assumed you could do things in normal mode.  That was impossible in this case.

Careful surfing, people!!  :)

TEST of the (so-far) Solar Oven

Not being able to complete the solar oven until I located a suitably large piece of cardboard from which to make the lid, I decided to see what sort of temperatures I could get from it as it is.  I have since procured a piece of cardboard, thanks to my uncle, so hopefully I can get to the lid this weekend.  :)

I remembered that there was a piece of glass sitting unused around the house, so I cleaned it and took it outside.  I set the oven base on the grass and put a cotton pad in it, and a cast iron skillet on the pad, and then an oven thermometer in the skillet.  I put the glass on top.  There was no angling the box so the sun entered it more directly, there was no reflector to direct more sunlight into the oven, and no black pan to help collect heat.

The skillet was necessary to help convert the sunlight to heat.

You know how your car heats up on a sunny day?  A solar oven works on the same principle.  The car is closed, and the sunlight enters through the windows.  It strikes the surfaces inside the car and some of it is converted to infrared light.  Most infrared light is heat.  The darker the surface the light strikes, the greater the amount of light that is converted to heat.  Once the light is converted to infrared, it cannot pass back through the windows.  Hence, black vinyl seats = burned tush.

In a solar oven, you want the heat concentrated where the food is.  This is why the inside of the box is reflective.  You want the light to keep bouncing around until it hits the dark items, which are the tray and the pots.  The oven will heat up, as well.

Now, I had meant to get the oven outside earlier in the day, like about 8:30 or 9:00, but I forgot about it until 11:30.  In spite of that, the temperature of the oven at 2:00 pm was around 210*-215*!

Not the greatest angle, but you can see the needle is pointing just about at 200* at this angle. From straight on, you would be able to see it was a little higher.

Not bad at all for an unfinished solar oven!!  Yeah!!!

It is good to have the oven reach at least 250* for cooking, to provide the safest temperature rise and not allow too much bacterial growth.  This is about the temperature a crock pot operates at.

Some solar ovens are all black in the interior.  They work on the same principle, just preferring to have all surfaces of the oven involved in converting light to heat.  I don’t know if either is superior, and there seems to be disagreement on that point.  Ah, well, as long as the thing cooks!  :)

A Change of Buck, & Baby Bunnies on the Way!

… well, they should be, anyway, as long as the heat sterility business is over with!

Our first rabbit is Thumper, who was abandoned and rescued. We bought our first doe, Pearl. Their first (and only, so far) litter gave us our other doe, Squeak, and a cute buck named Pinto. Pinto was not going to stay, because we already had our buck. But since he was our son’s favorite from that first litter, we promised he wouldn’t end up in the freezer. So we set about to find him a new home. We almost had one, but it fell through.

Now it’s a good thing it didn’t work out. Since then, he and Squeak (our daughter’s favorite from the litter) have matured. They’re roughly 8 1/2 months old now.

It was time to rebreed Pearl, since her mating five weeks ago produced no kits. It was quite hot this summer (quite regularly flirting with 100*), so I figure Thumper was heat sterile. I figured it was about time to breed Squeak as well. (The whole inbreeding thing isn’t as much of an issue for rabbits as long as you do not breed rabbits with undesirable traits. With meat rabbits, it’s even less important.) So Sunday I put Pearl in with Thumper, and, since Pinto is still here, I put Squeak in with him.

Thumper did manage one successful mating with Pearl. He’s way too sweet for this job. When Pearl plays hard-to-get (which is pretty much all the time), he just starts grooming her. And he grooms her some more. And some more. Finally, he decides he’s finished, and saunters over to the other side of the cage and lies down. So now I’ve got two rabbits stretched out, relaxing, and not mating.

Meanwhile, Pinto is being an assertive and very persistent young buck. Squeak’s not very happy, but Pinto has managed to mate successfully some three times with her. I finally had to take Pinto out of his cage in order to remove Squeak (who was so cross she gave me a light warning bite when I went to pick her up).

Hmmmm…. maybe Pinto needs to stick around.

So eight hours later, I mated the does again. Only this time, I mated them both with Pinto. I put Pearl in first, because she’s older, larger, and (I figured) more likely to give Pinto a problem. Well, she certainly didn’t make it easy for him, but his persistence paid off and he mated several times with her. Squeak ended up being the bigger problem, perhaps because this will be her first litter. She was pretty ticked off, but he managed several more matings with her as well, in spite of her. After another, slightly harder, warning bite from Squeak, I decided to just remove Pinto and let them stay in each other’s cages overnight.

I am very pleased with Pinto. While he did bite the girls’ fur a little, he was mostly quite good with them, just very persistent. The girls did not appreciate the persistent part, to be sure. But I can’t just keep four rabbits with no return. I need for them to be productive. It’s only one day every couple of months or so that they have to be mad at me.

Now, I can keep one rabbit with no return… Thumper is staying. We had already promised that he was here for good. And he is an excellent pet rabbit! So I guess there is some return. And he gave us Pinto, so that’s even better!

So now that Pinto is staying, I don’t have to try to get a female Pinto for our son to keep. Bunny-Wan Kenobi is very happy. :)

Pictures of our rabbits can be found in this post: http://rabbittalk.com/blogs/24carrot/2010/08/17/our-working-bunnies-so-far/

Building a Solar Oven, Part 2

Well, now that the kids are feeling better, maybe I can continue on about the solar oven.  :)

After I foiled the insides of both of the boxes, it was time to put them together.  I am using dry lawn clippings from the yard as insulation.  Apparently, dried grass makes a rather good insulation.  I did some poking around online, and found a number of sites that mentioned using it as insulation in solar ovens, as an ingredient in walls, as emergency survival stuffing in clothing, and even as a normal part of going outside to play in Alaska (until recently) — it would be stuffed into shoes, and wrapped around the feet.

The first step was putting some sort of spacers in the bottom of the outer box to help hold the oven box up off of the bottom.  I could just put an inch or two of grass in the bottom and set the oven box on top of it, but I figure the grass would compact over time and become less of an insulator (due to reduced trapped air), and, if the grass compacted, then the oven box would sink below the top of the outer box, causing problems its seal with the lid.

So I considered several ways of making spacers, and finally decided to simply cut small squares of cardboard and stack them.  I sprayed adhesive on one side of the square and affixed it to the bottom of the outer box, then did the same for three more squares, figuring that four stacks should give good support.  I added a second layer, then a third, and so on until I had about eight or so layers (a little over an inch high).  I rotated the squares so that the corrugation crossed the corrugation of the previous layer, hoping that would help further prevent compression of the squares.  The stacks of squares are roughly 2″x3″, but they vary a bit, as I didn’t worry about getting them all exactly the same size.

If I had had my brain plugged in, I probably would have tried to put a fifth stack in the middle, since that is where the weight will be concentrated. It may not have worked out, though, because the flaps of the box don't meet in the middle, making the middle lower than the places where the other stacks are. I think it will be alright, though, because my oven box is double-walled, meaning I will have four layers of corrugated cardboard making the floor of the oven, and spreading the weight more evenly across the bottom.

Once I had the stacks done, and as much of the adhesive removed from my hands as possible (that’s sticky stuff!!), I started putting the dried grass in.  This is mostly St. Augustine grass, with some weeds interspersed.  I feed this same dried grass to the rabbits, though it isn’t their favorite, and is only of mediocre forage quality… but it’s FREE and right here in my yard!  Anyway, I continued to add grass, lightly pressing on it to see where it was too thin, until I had a nice, firm (but not packed) layer of grass that just barely covered the support stacks.

I tried to make sure I had a nice, even layer that would give good support to the oven box.

I then concentrated on the oven box, using Duck tape to seal all the seams and also to reinforce the corner supports.

I'll never have the chance again, so I pretty much taped it to death.

Finally, I had reached the point at which it was time to put the oven box into the outer box.  Once that was accomplished (a little harder than it sounds, because of the foiled flaps), I began stuffing grass around the sides.

Again, I went for a nice, firm packing, but not hard pressed. It was a bit difficult to keep the oven box perfectly centered, but that isn't really as important as making sure that there is some space between the boxes on all sides. The walls of both boxes ended up bulging a little, but that would be remedied as time went on.

Once it was suitably stuffed, it was time to fold the flaps down.

The extra height of the oven box will be used to secure it to the outer box.

Once I had the flaps taped down, I cut the oven box flaps apart just to the top of the outer box.  Some of my corner supports extended above the top of the outer box (oops… shoulda measured that), so I had to cut through them down to the top of the outer box.  Then I sealed the gap along each side of the oven box to the outer box with Duck tape.  Using the outside of a pair of scissors, I made a dent along the outside of the oven box flap so that I could fold it over neatly.  The idea was to fold it over the top of the outer box, and then fold it again down the side, and then tape it down.

I stopped and thought for a while, though, looking at it and thinking about how thick that was going to be, and how it was going to be more difficult to make a lid that would fit well.  I finally sprayed one flap with adhesive and folded it down, but it wasn’t working well because it was so thick.  Then my mom, who had joined me outside at this point, suggested peeling some of the thickness away.

Since I’m going to have plenty of layers of cardboard at the top of the box anyway, I thought that was brilliant!  So I cut the Duck tape seals I had just made, and Mom helped me peel a layer of cardboard from the flaps, including the little bits of the corner supports that were too high.  I had to be very careful not to cut all the way through the flaps.  I then cut the flaps down so they wouldn’t go over the edge of the outer box.  This would make a tight-fitting lid much easier to make.

Peeling away the second layer of cardboard, since the double-walled construction of the oven box wasn't advantageous here.

This side has had the second layer of corrugated cardboard peeled away, and has been cut down.

I then sprayed the surfaces to be glued — the top of the outer box, and the peeled side of the oven box flap — using a piece of scrap cardboard to catch overspray.  I don’t want to taste adhesive in my food!  Maybe I’m just picky.

I waited 30 seconds for the adhesive to set, and then I pulled the top of the outer box and the top of the oven box together tightly, and folded the flap down and pressed it into place.  I held it to be sure the two surfaces adhered well.  Then I scored the foil on the flap and peeled most of it off, since I don’t need foil on the flaps, and I need the flaps to stick well.  Then I taped the flap down.  This is where the bulging was mostly rectified.

It is important to not have any Duck tape on the inside of the oven, because it fumes a bit when heated. I kept the tape about 1/4" away from the edge where it drops off into the oven.

Once I had all of the flaps peeled, cut, glued, and taped, I taped diagonally across the corners.

Since I had peeled the oven box flaps, I didn't have large spaces in the corners that needed filling.

The base of the oven is now complete!  :)

1 Sick Child + 1 Sick Child =

No school and no time to blog!

…and lots of snuggles for Mom. :)

Building a Solar Oven, Part 1

My materials:

  • two cardboard boxes in good shape, one a couple of inches larger than the other on all sides
  • aluminum foil
  • spray adhesive (can also use diluted white glue)
  • dried grass clippings
  • a few other various pieces of cardboard
  • turkey-sized baking bag (can also use clear Plexiglas or glass, two layers are ideal)
  • wire clothes hanger
  • flat black grill paint
  • probably some Duck tape (duct tape)

With our recent move, it was surprising to me how hard it was to find the two perfect boxes for this project.  The inner box is the oven itself, and the outer box provides insulation.  You don’t want boxes that are too deep, but your outer box still needs to be large enough to accommodate the oven box.  When it came down to it, I had to decide between an oven box that was shallow but of a nice length and width, and another box that was deeper, but not as long.  I chose the shallow box, and decided to modify it so that the flaps would stand up rigidly and provide more depth.

First, I closed the larger box and centered the oven box on top of it, and then traced around the oven box.

Tracing around the smaller oven box onto the top of the larger outer box.

Yes, I did have a large box devoted to hangers.  Didn’t you?  And… I have never had Direct TV… where did that box come from?

Next, I cut all the way through all of the flaps with a mat knife (box cutter).

All layers of flaps cut through, and I have them weighted down to show you the resulting hole. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until I was several steps along, which is why the inside is already shiny. :)

Then I opened the box and applied foil to the inside, using the adhesive spray.  It isn’t absolutely necessary to foil the inside of the outer box, but it reflects more heat back inside, making the oven more efficient.  White school glue diluted to half strength can also be used to apply the foil, but I didn’t want to deal with the difficulties associated with applying and using it.  And… the spray adhesive will adhere the foil better, as well.  Not very important for the outer box, but for the inner box, which will get more wear and tear as the oven box, having the foil stick as well as possible is a good thing.  The spray adhesive was about $10.  It was the more expensive of two spray adhesives available by 3M at Wal-Mart, but it was a larger can, and was the only one that mentioned gluing foil.

I applied foil to the inner flaps instead of the outer ones, forgetting that they don’t meet in the middle.  So I have applied foil to the part of the outer flaps that bridges the gap.  Should be good enough, but I’ll remember that if I ever build another one.

I have since added some more foil to close the gaps in the corners and along the flaps.

There’s less trouble with keeping the foil shiny if you spray the back of the foil and apply it, rather than spraying the box.

My oven box wasn’t as deep as I wanted, so I cut some cardboard strips from extra material and bent them.  To get them to stick and do their job, I needed the strongest possible bond.  This was accomplished by spraying both the strip and the corner on the box, and then waiting half a minute.  When pressed together, the adhesive acts like a contact cement, and bonds quite well.  I did have to go back around when I was finished and hold each one for a few seconds again.

I will probably reinforce the corners with Duck tape all the way around, to make sure I exclude air from outside. I'll concentrate on the added flap supports, to prevent them from popping off, just in case they're tempted to.

Then, I applied foil to the inside of the oven box, using smaller pieces so I could keep them a bit bit flatter for better reflection.

I think I ended up with two layers of foil over most of the surface.

Tomorrow, I hope to get a good bit of assembly done!  :)

In defense of solar cooking

First, why would I go to the effort of building a solar oven?  After all, studies show that cooking uses only 4 – 10% of a home’s total use of electricity.  Couldn’t I save more money faster by putting my efforts elsewhere?

Maybe.  We already keep the temperature around 75* in the summer (okay, it’s not the suggested 78*, but here, where it’s so very humid most of the time while it is so very hot, 78* is just not much relief a lot of the time).  That’s higher than many keep it, which is 68 – 72*.  So we save there some already.

We have two refrigerators and a chest freezer, so that doesn’t help the bill much.  It would be nice to move down to one fridge, but I doubt that will happen anytime soon, especially since their presence here predates our moving in with my uncle.  And we do use all the space in them, somehow.  I’m not sure where we would put everything for us all in one fridge.  And that freezer’s not going anywhere, sorry!!!

So then there’s the water heater.  Well, that’s gas, and the gas isn’t that expensive for now.  And the laundry?  We wash nearly all of our laundry in cold water.  The dryer, on the other hand, has only one remedy:  line drying.  I’ll be getting a clothesline shortly to see how we do with that.  I have pretty active allergies, our daughter has somewhat active allergies, and she, our son, and my mom all have asthma.  So clothes full of pollen might not work out very well, but we’ll see.  We’re willing to try.

Since the powers that be have openly admitted that the changes coming down the pike will cause the cost of electricity to “necessarily skyrocket”, I figure any attempt to save electricity is called for, including solar cooking.  Like I said, I’m no environmentalist.  I don’t believe all the scary doom-and-gloom-man-is-killing-the-planet stuff (and I have read quite a bit on both sides of the subject!).  Not that that means that I think we are free to pillage the earth and leave devastation in our wake.  God said for man to be fruitful and multiply, and to have dominion over the earth and to subdue it.  Dominion includes the responsibility of caring for that which you have dominion over, and wisely managing what you have.  I’m not an environmentalist, but I do like saving money.

What can you cook with a solar oven?  Apparently, quite a bit.  Bread, cakes, and cornbreads, pretty much anything you can cook in a crock pot, and many things you cook on the stove.  Some things merely require modification of the process.  Rice, for instance, requires you to heat the water and rice separately in the solar oven before putting them together to cook.  Potatoes need to be cut pretty small in order to cook properly.  Most, if not all, foods benefit most from being cooked inside dark cookware so they will more efficiently collect heat.

In order to do other things like making reductions, frying, or sauteing, you would need your conventional stove or a solar concentration cooker like a parabolic cooker.  These things are very sensitive to the movement of the sun across the sky, though, and require adjustment of the mirror(s) frequently.  I don’t want to babysit the thing, so I’m going with a plain solar oven.

A solar oven can be as cheap or as expensive as you want.  You can spend nothing on it and build it out of scraps, or you can spend several hundred on one that is ready to use and will supply supplemental electric heat should the sun duck behind a cloud for too long.  I’m spending about $15.  Only about $5 of that did I really need to spend.  The rest of it I spent on some spray adhesive that can adhere foil.  It will come in handy for other projects, too.  :)

Out(side)sourcing some of the cooking

I am not an environmentalist, and do not believe in global warming, but I do believe in reasonable conservation and wise use of our resources, as well as wasting as little as possible.

When you come down to my embracing of the idea of solar cooking, though, it has nothing to do with my views on conservation and resources. It has to do with frugality — I’m trying to save money, here. We don’t have a lot of it, after all, and I could swear I hear some of our pennies whimper when I squeeze them particularly hard. But I have to.

I already had one solar oven, but it wasn’t quite finished when we moved. My beloved husband had built it from scrap siding, duct board, and the glass door from an old entertainment center. The last thing it needed was a way to keep the reflector open, and a lock to keep the neighborhood kids from adding unexpected ingredients (like chameleons) to the food. It got up to 225* in spite of the fact that I couldn’t keep the reflector open, so I was really hoping to see what it could do once it was finished.

Well, it didn’t make it into the moving truck. :( So I’m building one. Maybe it’ll be temporary, or maybe I’ll have it quite a while. I’m building it out of two cardboard boxes, foil, and dried grass. I just started, so I’ll be posting pictures. I’m more or less following these plans: http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/surv/solarbox.htm

I clicked “approve” on a comment a while back, and it said it was approved, but I saw my son’s user name at the top of the page. Unfortunately, I promptly forgot about it, the comment has been languishing in comment limbo ever since.

I wanted to encourage you to read the comment by avdpas77 on this post: http://rabbittalk.com/blogs/24carrot/2010/08/15/olive-oil-fraud-who-knew

Please accept my apologies, avd!