Zucchini Chips

I have been reading more vegan cookbooks, and there were a few new dishes that I wanted to try out.  At least two of them were snacks.  Snacks are a little hard once you quit eating processed foods, and to be honest, our house eats an insane amount of raisins.  (Seriously – we can’t keep them in the house no matter how many I buy.)  So, in the interest of eating something new, we decided to try out the solar cooker with some zucchini chips.  According to the book (Thrive) they are a tasty snack made entirely from cut zucchini.  Perfect!  (They are on sale, at least….)

Zucchini Chips

2 cut zucchini

salt

thyme

basil

oregano

I laid the zucchini strips on a parchment paper lined tray and sprinkled them with the seasonings.  The recipe called for cooking them for 30 minutes, but I had mine out there for an hour.  My oven was sitting at about 300 degrees.

And… they were mushy.  I suspect this is supposed to be a high temperature recipe, and it just didn’t translate well at lower temperatures.  They zucchini were edible, but not particularly tasty.  I’m a bit bummed, to be honest.

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Rating:  Not recommended.  Snack on baby carrots instead 🙂

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Bad blogger

I have been a bad blogger these past few weeks.  I apologize.  I have my kids home and my husband around, and I just want to spend my time with them most days.

However, I am still solar cooking!  Most things are oldies but goodies, but I should share how they are working out.

Chili – yet -just as good this time as it was the first day I solar cooked.  I can’t recommend this recipe enough!

Cupcakes – I made the Bob’s Redmill Vanilla Cake ones this time, and they turned out better then the chocolate ones.  I make them as cupcakes so that they will fit into the oven.  I have to put a black towel over the muffin tin so that they will cook, and I’m having trouble with the towel getting into the batter.  I may need to try toothpicks to alleviate this problem.

Rice – I bombed this.  I have been cooking later in the afternoon as the sun is staying up longer and I have been able to cook after 3:00.  However, the cooker just didn’t boil the water, so I had to regroup for this.  Next time I’ll cook it earlier!

 

And then we went on vacation again (a bit a fiasco for another time) and once again the solar oven wouldn’t fit in the car.

The cooker itself is holding up well, though it is getting a bit dirty inside.  I may need to try cleaning it again.  Hopefully I will remember not to use vinegar, as the last time I ended up with vinegar tasting food!  Yuck!

Cupcakes

I couldn’t just leave those lovely packages of cupcake mix alone. I know they were supposed to be for the canceled birthday party, but they looked so yummy! I had to try them!

I had the Bob’s Red Mill chocolate cake mix, and I made it according to the directions for cupcakes. I preheated my solar cooker (which only got up to 300°F) and tried to bake them.

I must have something wrong. It took over an hour to bake one small tray of cupcakes. I did manage to finish two trays, but that is only 12 cupcakes and it took me about 4 hours. Perhaps I am angling it incorrectly?

My husband made squash afterwards and got it up to 350°F in the late afternoon sun, so it is probably just me…

Rating: mushy cupcakes. I will have to try again later.

Foiled Again

I have been trying to post even when things aren’t going as solar-splendidly as I might like.  Today is a good example.

I had purchased two bags of baking mixes to make cupcakes for my son’s birthday party tomorrow.  It was going to be a candy theme (his choice) and we were going to have a table of toppings that you could put on your cupcake to decorate it.  Today was going to be cupcake baking day in preparation for tomorrow’s sugar-fest.

However, we have come down with a stomach bug, and just had to cancel the party.  I’m not really feeling up to baking, and I suspect I shouldn’t bake while sick anyway.  So, alas, these two bags are the reminder of the solar cooking that I didn’t do today…

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Summer Living

I have been solar cooking.  I swear.  Everyday.

The thing is, it’s hot here, and most of the time, I am down to cooking as an act of need instead of as a fun exercise.  For example, the other day, my husband boiled a chicken.  He does this all the time, and it’s not really much to write about at this point.

I have been baking though.  I made oatmeal raisin cookies for a party on Sunday.  They turned out well, though when you use vegan butter, they don’t spread out the way normal cookies do.  They more resemble little snowballs.

I also had my son’s birthday party yesterday for the family, and I made a carrot cake and carrot muffins for him. They turned out alright, though a little bit soggy at the bottom.

I have to say, I am amazed at how stable the temperatures are in the over.  Usually, in good sun, I get up to about 300 or 350 in the early afternoon.  It doesn’t get higher when it is blazing hot outside (which it is often), and it isn’t much cooler when it is cooler outside.  Science is so cool!

And now my confession, and the real reason I haven’t been updating this blog this week – it’s frankly too hot to cook.  Really.  Every afternoon I think about making food and decide that it would just be better to heat something indoors, or go out to eat, or that maybe we all could use a good salad loaded with beans.  Apparently I am not alone.  Several of my friends have commented on this (one is feeding her kids breakfast for dinner when it gets too bad).  So I will continue to try to log my solar cooking here, but it is surprisingly hard to cook with all this sun!

Wish me luck.  If you have any recipe or dish ideas, please comment.  I’d love something new to try 🙂

Indoor Solar

When I first started this challenge, I was using my crock pot indoors often, and I thought a solar cooker would be a good way to take that cooking outside. And, for the most part, it was.

Today, however, I had to experience in reverse. You see, I had already made the batter for oat bread when I realized that it was raining. No sun for us, but I needed the bread. My oven is still stinky, so I decided to see if a crock pot could sub for a solar cooker.

I spread the batter thin on parchment lined bread pans and cooked them on high for about 1-2 hours.

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It worked well! I had to use all morning to make the three loaves, but they came out cooked and tasty.

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Rating: good. Check out the recipe here!

Haitus

Sorry for the hiatus.  I meant to have a nice few posts about how brilliant solar cooking is while camping.  I mean, what could be better?  You can cook most anything.  You don’t need electricity.  It’s perfect!

So we went camping this past weekend, and I had an unforeseen solar hiccup – the large solar oven was too big to fit into the car with our other camping equipment.  Even with a two vehicle trip, there just wasn’t space.

But never fear!  I am continuing to cook at home, even though it hasn’t been anything sexy yet.  Yesterdays ago we made ghee for my husband (clarified butter).  It’s not something the vegans in the house eat, but knowing how to make it is cool if you are looking for a nice Indian food taste.  Here’s the recipe, just in case.

Ghee

1 pound of butter

Put all 4 sticks of butter (unsalted) into a loaf pan.  Warm it in the solar cooker until it is all liquid.  Use coffee filters and loads of patience to skim off the white part that floats to the top.  This is the whey, which contains any milk proteins left in the butter. What is left is primarily fat.  It’s yellow and has a high melting temperature.  Hubby loves it.  I can’t comment personally…

It’s nice to be back!  I’ll try to have some good solar postings soon!