Yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle offered a feature on the solar oven—a piece of culinary gear that I'd never heard of, much less seen. It basically looks like one of those tanning reflectors that have gone so incredibly out of style for sunbathers. Instead of holding said reflector up to your face, you leave it in your backyard and drop in some tater tots or just about anything that needs baking at 350 degrees or more. Here's a description of the product, which, obviously, works best in sunny climates:
Most solar ovens rely on the greenhouse effect. The Sun Oven, for example, consists of a well-insulated box with a glass lid and four reflective panels that direct sunlight into the box. As the sunlight is absorbed by the oven's black interior and any dark-colored dishes place inside, it converts into heat, which is trapped inside by the glass lid.
For more on solar oven technology, where to buy it, and its advantages and disadvantages, check out the full article and collected sidebars. You'll even find a slew of solar-oven-friendly recipes, including Buttermilk Cornbread and Shrimp & Lemon Skewers.