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People use current heat to verify old saw

Profile image for By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer
By Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe / Staff Writer

You've heard it.

Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk.

Oatman, Ariz., pop. 150, holds a contest for it every Fourth of July. Someone nearly always wins, said Oatman shopkeeper Jerry Love. Although this year, for the first time, it didn't work out.

"The sun stayed behind the clouds," Love said.

Dallas resident Matt Good said he would have cracked one on the sidewalk last week, when the temperature got to 111 degrees at Love Field, but he knew his wife wouldn't like it.

"The heat really was excessive," Good said.

He put one in a frying pan on the deck instead.

"My sister-in-law tried to cook a pizza on the driveway," Good said. "But she's in Illinois."

According to his instant-read meat thermometer, the egg got to 137 degrees. He tried again, pre-warming an egg in the pot of a tomato plant and the pan in the bed of his pickup. He cracked the egg in the pan about 1 p.m., covered the pan, and closed the tailgate.

About a half-hour later, the egg looked cooked and was 143 degrees, although "I wouldn't eat it," Good said. "It would be a cauldron of salmonella."

According to Love, Good was on the right track with the ambient heat, but he needed to increase the radiant heat of the sun with mirrors or other reflective material to get the job done.

"I thought about that," Good said.

Denton County extension agent Maggie Jovers said Good was also on the right track about bacteria. An egg is safe to eat at 160 degrees.

Cookies baked on a car dashboard - something Bartonville resident Pattie Bauer Carter tried last week - would also need to reach that temperature to be safe, Jovers said.

Carter wouldn't eat her experiment either, "even though it's like using an Easy-Bake Oven," she said. But her husband, who was in China on business at the time of her baking adventure, might, so she threw them out.

One thing residents might be able to cook in the sun, however, is strawberry jam.

Cheryl Alters Jamison included the recipe in A Real American Breakfast (William Morrow, 2002). She and her co-author, husband Bill Jamison, had heard about the recipe for years.

With just sugar and strawberries, it seemed too simple to work, she said. They finally tested it, finding that combination of sugar and acidity prevent spoilage as the sun's evaporation makes a nice gel.

"It was amazingly good," Cheryl Jamison said.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is pheinkel-wolfe@dentonrc.com .