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!

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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!

Mexican Rice Soup

I have been trying a few recipes from Forks over Knives recently. Usually they turn out okay, but this one I found to be surprisingly tastey.

It bills itself as a soup, but it is really more of a stew, and like most Mexican food, it is great with avocado, chips, and salsa!

Mexican Rice Soup

1 chopped onion

2 tsp garlic powder

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

6 cups water

1 cup brown rice, uncooked but toasted (to toast just brown slightly in a pan on the stove)

1 cup black beans (cooked)

1 cup pinto beans (cooked)

1 Tbsp chili powder

Salt

Pepper

Mix together and solar cook for several hours, covered.

Serve with salsa, avocado, chips, or your other favorite sides!

IMG_20140528_162435568Rating: good! I will make this one again sometime.

 

Sharing

When you get married you have to learn to share. You share a house, desserts at restaurants, pool towels, etc. Now that we are doing so much solar cooking, I have to add solar cooker to the list.

Today, my husband wanted to cook a chicken and make chicken broth (he’s GAPS, so no vegan fare for him).  It’s simple enough to do – just put a whole chicken in water with whatever spices you like and leave it to cook, covered, for a few hours.  The problem, though, with sharing something like this is that it means that someone doesn’t get to bake. By the time we have preheated the oven and the cookware and then finished cooking the chicken, it is too late to cook much of anything else.

Oh well. Better luck tomorrow. Maybe what we really need to consider is a second oven?

Tough, I Mean Teff

As usual, I never meant to make teff at our house. (For those of you not familiar, teff is an African grain.) I had wanted to make injera, which is the spongey bread used to eat Etheopian food. It is made from teff flour, which is happily gluten-free. So, I got on Amazon and ordered some teff flour, and tried to ferment it to make the bread.

The only problem was that my teff kept sprouting instead of fermenting! Low and behold, I had ordered whole teff instead of the flour. So, I figured I should learn to cook with it since I now had four bags!

It turns out it is easy to cook. One part teff plus four parts water is the proportion and you cook it the same way you make rice. I like to put some in the crock pot overnight and eat some for breakfast.

Solar Teff

1 cup teff

4 cups water

1 cup banana puree

Mix together and then put in solar cooker for 3-4 hours until the water is absorbed.

Eat it like oatmeal with berries and milk on top. It has a flavor somewhat like malt-o-meal.

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Rating: good. We will be having this for breakfast a few days this week. The banana makes it sweeter, which the kids like.

 

Cookies At Last!

It’s so frustrating for me to go several days without having anything edible emerge from my solar cooker! I decided to take the day and make something safe: cookies!

Peanut butter cookies to be exact. I followed the Betty Crocker recipe with vegan and gluten-free substitutes. The batter was delicious! I have to admit that I ate probably half of it before it got the the cooker. Never fear though – I did manage to cook some of the cookies!

Gf Solar Peanut Butter Cookies

1 stick vegan butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup peanut butter

1Tbsp flax + 3 Tbsp water

1 1/4 cups rice flour

1 tsp xanthum gum

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

Pinch salt.

Cream the wet ingredients, then stir in the dry ingredients. Drop onto parchment-lined tray and flatten with a fork to make the crisscross pattern on the top.

Solar bake till done. For me it was about 30 minutes because my oven was only sitting at around 300°F.

 

The cookies came out a little on the dry side, and definitely more crumbly then I would have liked, but my kids still loved them and polished them off before their father got home!

Rating – okay. Cookies are good, but I need to make these a bit less crumbly.

Old Favorites

It’s no secret that in our house BBQ lentils are the dish of choice. We eat them as tacos with pineapple, we take them to parties, and we serve them to guests when they come over. We have yet to have a meat eater who doesn’t enjoy some of their vegan yumminess.

Tonight we tried a twist on our regular BBQ lentils. We still solar cooked the lentils and then heated them with BBQ sauce, but we served them over spinach and topped them with pineapple! It made for a nice summer salad and was very filling!

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Rating: good! We may try this again for a quick meal!

Broccoli and White Bean Penne

Yum… garlic. We love Italian-inspired dishes that are rich in sauces, pasta, and garlic! I feel like having a glass of red wine just thinking about it. Here’s a versatile dish that the kids love and adults will eat.

I originally found a similar recipe online (I can’t remember where) and changed it a bit to be able to solar cook it. The noodles I boiled on the stove indoors, but the beans and sauce I cooked in the solar oven.

Broccoli and White Bean Penne

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, diced

1 or 2 cups cooked white beans

16 oz cooked penne

Large jar red pasta sauce

1 or 2 crowns broccoli, chopped

Cook the garlic, onion, and beans in the solar cooker till soft ( about an hour). Then stir in the pasta sauce and return to the sun oven till heated through. Indoors, cook the penne. Add the broccoli to the cooking pasta for the last few minutes till it is tender. Drain pasta and broccoli. Stir in the sauce with the beans. Enjoy!

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Rating: easy and good. Very kid-friendly and reheats well. I always use gluten-free pasta, so it is a gluten-free meal.

I have to say, spaghetti dishes like this are some of my favorite dinners. You can hide anything in them (pureed spinach, lentils, broccoli, etc.) and kids love them! I think this will be our lunch for the next day or two.

Peanut Butter Muffins

We are suckers for good muffins around here. These are some of our favorites! They are sweet, and even though they make about a dozen muffins, I never have any make it till the next day!

My son had some dental work yesterday, and these soft and filling muffins tied him over well.

This recipe was originally from Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook. I made a few vegan changes.

Peanut Butter Muffins

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup applesauce

1 large banana

1 T flax + 3 T water

1 cup gluten-free rice flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch salt

1/2 cup brown sugar

Cream the wet ingredients. Stir in the dry ingredients. At the very end stir in the last 1/4 cup sugar with one stir. This will make them crunchy and sweet! Bake in lined muffin tin for about 30 minutes in the solar cooker.

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Rating: very yummy!

Burritos

I have several burrito recipes, but I rarely make them because they involve baking, which is usually avoided here during the summer. However, I don’t mind solar cooking up a few yummy burritos!

The basic recipe for all of them is to saute whatever vegetables you have, mix with beans, and then roll into burritos and bake. Some recipes include rice in the mix.

I didn’t have time to cook rice first, but these were yummy and very filling all the same. I believe the base recipe comes from one of Rip Esselstyn’s books. It’s a good way to get vegetable avoidant folks to eat leafy greens.

Vegan Burritos

Saute:

1 diced clove garlic

1 diced onion

2 diced zucchini

1 chopped bell pepper

4 chopped leaves kale

2 chopped leaves book choy

Then add in:

1 cup pinto beans

1 cup black beans

1/2 cup salsa

Pinch cumin

(Optional: 2 cups rice)

Heat through, then spoon onto tortillas, roll up, and bake on parchment-lined tray for 15 minutes.

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I has such small tortillas that I couldn’t get them rolled, so I baked mine like quesadillas. They looked a bit flat in the end, but they tasted great with salsa and homemade guacamole!

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Rating: good! Definitely great with the guacamole. I tried some just heated through with salsa for lunch and it was good as well!