Thursday, December 31, 2009

Solar Stew

Our guests are gone and the sun is back. After getting up early to bring them to the airport I swung by the grocery store to pick up something to cook in the Sun Oven before heading out to work. It was a beautiful clear day and a slow cooked beef stew sounded like a good dinner to come home to. It was in fact cooked to perfection when I got home. The only problem was after such a long day, the two weeks of preparing  three meals a day for four people suddenly caught up to me. I had no energy to prepare anything to go with it. I took another trip to the store - in my pajamas! - to get some ready made mashed potatoes. Even more out of character for me, I heated them up in the microwave. My microwave is so seldomly used that it's kept in a storage room, not the kitchen. I did manage to steam some carrots and peas to add some color and once the store bought potatoes were smothered with the stew they weren't so bad.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sun Cooked Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars, without the Sun, Coconut or Raspberry

The sun came out just enough to trick me into whipping up a batch of bar cookies. I started them out in the Sun Oven but had to surrender to the clouds half way through and transfer them inside. The end result was still good and I'm quite proud of the fact that I successfully modified a baked good recipe. Something I rarely have the courage to do. I used's Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars recipe substituting sliced almonds for the coconut and apricot jam for the raspberry.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

BBQ Pork Riblets and Turkey Thighs

Today was Martin's birthday and he requested pulled pork. Easy enough - except our guests don't eat pork. To keep everyone happy and fed I made both pork riblets and turkey thighs. BBQ pork is a Sun Oven favorite, but today's BBQ turkey thighs were a first. I simply removed the skin then covered the meat with a spice rub and put them in a pot with some liquid smoke. We have enough left over for another meal so tomorrow I may bake Martin a belated birthday cake.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Lentils, Lentils, Lentils

I would have been more than happy if it had been cloudy today. I was still a little groggy from yesterday's feast and not really in the mood to do any cooking at all. But of course the sun was out in full force. I threw a pot of red lentil soup in the Sun Oven around noon for dinner and heated up the green lentils that were left over from Christmas eve for lunch. There aren't many foods I would serve twice in one day but lentils are one of them. No one complained when they reappeared on the table for dinner, we don't even have any leftovers.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Solar Baked Christmas Partybrot

Luckily for me my cousin invited us to Christmas dinner so I didn't have to cook much. It was a potluck kind of thing and of course I had to bring something from the Sun Oven. The main courses were covered - turkey, porchetta, and rib roast. Almost everyone else was bringing dessert. That left me with the rolls. The hardest part was the timing. I wanted to go visit the kitties at the Arizona Humane Society in the morning so I had to get two batches of bread dough ready for solar baking by 9:30 a.m. I measured out all the ingredients the night before, set my alarm for 5:30 a.m, got the first batch going in the breadmaking machine, and went back to bed. An hour and a half later I was up again to start the second batch, then it was back to bed for one more hour. The rolls had to rise one last time before going into the Sun Oven which at 9:30 a.m had reached 200ºF. I popped them in the Sun Oven and went off to play with the cats. I left instructions with the three people at home to keep an eye on them and take them out when the were brown. When I got back at 11:30 a.m. there wasn't a soul in sight, they'd gone out for a walk, the Sun Oven door was covered in condensation, and the rolls were brown. I got them out in the nick of time.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lentil Soup

I woke up with a craving for lentils. This of course meant that I didn't have any lentils in the house. By the time I got back from the grocery store it was getting late. I rinsed the newly purchased lentils and put them in the Sun Oven. The rest of the soup, which came out more like a stew, would have to be cooked on the stove. It was a good, simple meal. Just the kind you want the day before a big feast.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Stormy Weather is over. Clear Skies Again. Solar Dinner is Served.

After three days of clouds I was ready for a good solar cooked meal. I made chicken thighs with garlic and rosemary, and root vegetables.  Our guests don't eat beef or pork so my choices are limited. I served it with a turnip risotto made with the pan juices, and some steamed kale. To think, yesterday we had a dust storm, rain, and hail and today there was hardly a cloud in the sky.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Slow cooker saves lamb cassoulet

It looked like it was going to be a sunny day. I didn't even think to check the forecast. I put the Sun Oven out early with lamb cassoulet and left for my shift at the Arizona Humane Society. It was a very busy morning. We found homes for eight cats; I didn't have any time to think about my solar cooking. It wasn't until I was half way home that I realized the sun was nowhere in sight. Luckily when I got home the Sun Oven was at 150º and with no chance of the sun coming back out I transferred everything to the slow cooker. I think I salvaged it in the nick of time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Second Best Solar Dish Ever

There probably won't be very many new dishes coming out of the Sun Oven while our guests are here. I'm not one of those cooks brave enough to serve untested recipes to company. Tonight we had solar cooked split pea soup as our first course with grilled turkey sausages, baked potato wedges, and kale for our main course. Martin said that solar split pea soup is his second favorite after chicken with two lemons.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Chicken for Dinner

Chicken is probably the best way to make a good first impression with solar cooking. I made my tried and true chicken with two lemons over brown rice for our guests tonight. As usual the meat was fall off the bone tender and the rice was creamy and full of flavor. They said it was the best chicken they'd ever eaten.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hot Solar Soup for Travelers

The housework is all done. Finally. Our guests have arrived. I wasn't sure if they would be hungry after their long flight from England. Just in case I had a nice pot of solar cooked pasta fagioli waiting for them. Easy to heat up if they wanted some - which they did - and if they hadn't it would have still been good tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Partly Sunny Day Good Enough for Baked Potatoes

Another day of cleaning and partly sunny weather. The morning was completely overcast and I didn't think there would be any solar cooking happening at all. The clouds broke around noon, but I was pretty sure there would be intermittent sunshine for the rest of the afternoon at best. I needed something to go with yesterday's uneaten meatloaf muffins so I tossed some potatoes in the Sun Oven. My weather forecast was correct, the sun continued to come and go throughout the afternoon, but it was enough to make some mighty tasty baked potatoes.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Meatloaf Muffins

I'm still pretty busy getting the house ready for our guests that are due to arrive on Thursday. I managed to get this pan of muffins in the Sun Oven in the morning. I like to add vegetables to my meatloaf to cut back on calories. I usually use carrots and zucchini, but today I experimented with carrots and cabbage; I didn't have any zucchini. They look and smelled good, but we haven't eaten them yet. Late this afternoon I cleaned the oven, the indoor one, and it made the kitchen so stinky that we grabbed a bite out. We'll have the meatloaf muffins for dinner tomorrow.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Solar Cooked Chickpeas

With company arriving this week I can no longer put it off, I have to get the house clean. I remembered to soak the chickpeas for today's vegetarian stew, but I didn't have all the other ingredients. I could have made a quick trip to the store and had the vegetables in the Sun Oven around noon. That would have been enough time to solar cook it, but then it would have been lunch time and I'd have decided there was something else I needed to be doing in the afternoon and cleaning house would have been put off for one more day. I'm incredibly good at avoiding housework. So, for today's dish, only the chickpeas were solar cooked.

The recipe is from Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew. I followed pretty much to the letter except I added chickpeas and didn't use any saffron. It's the first time either of us have ever had quinoa. I'm not quite sure what I think of it. I know it's incredibly nutritious, but I can see how it didn't really wow the Spanish conquistadors the same way other new world crops did.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cold Rainy Sunday

Another rainy cloudy day with no chance of solar cooking. The sun should be back tomorrow.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Clouds Vs Sun

Today's Accuweather forecast said "clouds yielding to sun". I had no idea what that was supposed to mean so I put the Sun oven out just in case. I really didn't need to cook anything today, we had plenty of leftovers for lunch, two loaves of bread in the breadbox, we both need to lay off the cookies for a while, and we're going out to dinner. About the only thing I had in the fridge was a rutabaga so imagine my surprise when I did a search on and came up with this recipe: Rutabaga Purée with Cardamon and Thyme. I actually had all the ingredients on hand and it could be assembled today and reheated tomorrow. It would have been perfect if the sun had come out for more than ten minutes. Just like last Saturday's sweet potatoes, the rutabaga pretty much sat in the back yard, in a cold Sun Oven, until I called it a day at three o'clock.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Solar Cooking Pulled Pork and Baked Beans

An uneventful day of solar cooking. I made some old favorites; pulled pork and baked beans. I forgot to soak the beans so I had to get up early and use the quick soak method, boiling the beans for a couple of minutes then letting them soak for an hour - that was the most exciting part. Even though the forecast said there'd be intervals of clouds and sun, the sun was out most of the time. We have enough left over for lunch tomorrow and we're going out for dinner; I guess I'll be baking if it's sunny.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Almond Macaroons

According to we could expect periods of clouds and sunshine today and intervals of clouds and sun tomorrow. I'm not quite sure what the difference is but it's definitely not ideal weather for solar cooking. As soon as these macaroons were ready for the Sun Oven we were experiencing an extended cloud period. I wound up baking them in the regular oven.

Almond Macaroons

1 cup whole almonds, blanched
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg white
1/2 tsp almond extract
pinch salt

whole almonds, candied cherries

Preheat oven to 350
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Process 1 cup almonds plus sugar in a food processor (pulse) until fine, add egg white, almond extract and salt, pulse until combined. Roll mixture into 16 balls, arrange 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Slightly flatten balls. Press 1 almond or 1 candied cherry on each cookie. Bake 10 minutes, cool on rack.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Solar Cooked Leftovers and Soup

With lots of leftovers from last night's dinner I wasn't really inspired to do much solar cooking. Split pea soup seems to be my go to dish on days like today. We had some for lunch with grilled cheese sandwiches -possibly one of the best food combinations on the planet - and for dinner with the leftover chicken and rice. There's even a little left to go in the freezer for another lunch on a cloudy day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Root Vegetables, Chicken Thighs, and Rice. All in One Sun Oven

 It was supposed to be cloudy and rainy again today, but when I heard the wind storm last night I knew it would blow the clouds away. Sure enough, I woke up to a clear blue sky. A perfect day for solar cooking.

 To make the most of the Sun Oven I stacked a pyrex baking dish with a mixture of root vegetables on top of a enamel roasting pan with chicken thighs and brown rice. Since I could use the lid, I covered the roasting pan with aluminum foil and parchment paper. For some reason I took everything out around 2:30 even though the oven chamber was still hot and it was no where near dinner time.
 The chicken thighs were done, but it wouldn't have hurt to leave everything else in a little longer. I always forget the more stuff you put in the Sun Oven the longer the cooking times will be. The vegetables and the rice weren't inedible, just a little under cooked. In any case, paired with some greens, it was a perfectly acceptable dinner.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cloudy All Morning

It was cat training day today at the Arizona Humane Society. Once again we left the house early and the forecast called for clouds. This time I didn't even bother setting up the Sun Oven, so of course the sun came out. We got home around 12:30 and with at most two hours of good sunlight left there was no time for any prep work. I had a couple of sweet potatoes in the fridge that I peeled, cut up and put in a roasting pan with a little water. Sure enough, about an hour later the clouds were back. The temperature in the Sun Oven had reached 300ºF. There's a good chance the potatoes were already done, but to be on the safe side I left them in until the temperature had gone down to 200ºF. I'll mash them with some butter for a nice side dish with tonight's dinner.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Great Day - But Not for Solar Cooking

There was frost on the ground this morning and the forecast was for cloudy skies all day. I put the Sun Oven out anyway. It didn't look very promising so I just threw a couple of potatoes in it. We could have them with the last of the beef stew if the clouds did clear out.

We left the house early to attend a training class at the Arizona Humane Society. We spent the morning learning how to take dogs out of their kennels, and how to assist people interested in adopting a pet. The sun spent the morning hiding behind the clouds.

After the class we went to Tour de Coops, a self guided tour of the valley's urban chicken coops. It was a lot of fun. We even met some other solar cooks. The sun, however, never showed its face. When we got home the potatoes were as raw as ever. I hope they enjoyed hanging out in the backyard.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Solar Baked Bar Cookies

In general, the Sun Oven is not the best appliance for baking cookies. It's  too hard to get a decent amount of them to fit in it and too easy to forget about the ones you do. Cookies, unlike almost anything else, will overcook if left out to bake too long. That's why I choose bar cookies. I used toaster oven sized rimmed trays and made them in two batches.

The recipe, Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars, can be found at These are the first bar cookies I've ever made, with or without the Sun Oven. I plan on bringing them to my volunteer training class at the Arizona Humane Society tomorrow. I had to hide them or we would have polished them off. They're that good.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Solar Stew

It was another day of full sun. I put a pot of beef stew in the Sun Oven in the morning and left it there all day. Easy stuff. I refocused the Sun Oven a few times, but only when I happened to notice it out of the corner of my eye. I brought it in when the sun started to go down. Beef stew is always better the day after it's made. We went out for pizza tonight. We'll be enjoying this tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Solar Baked White Lasagna

When I saw this recipe for Pancetta and Taleggio Lasagna with Treviso in the latest issue of Bon Appétit I had to make it.  Reading it immediately brought on cravings for this food I grew up with. Taleggio, an Italian cheese from the region of Lombardy, is as common in a Milanese refrigerator as peanut butter is here. I had to act fast. My non cheese eating in-laws are coming soon for the holidays and January's issue will arrive with new temptations that could make me forget about this comfort food from my past.

Normally this is not the kind of recipe I enjoy. Too many hard to find expensive ingredients, too many calories, and too much work. But I was on a mission. I had to go to three different stores to track down everything I needed. Still, I couldn't find Treviso radicchio, so I used Chioggia radicchio instead. I know Treviso is considered to be better, but I never really could tell the difference once it was chopped up. This morning, with all the ingredients gathered I was ready to go.

The bulk of this recipe - which I cut in half to avoid taking out a second mortgage in order to finance it - is not cooked in the Sun Oven. Like any lasagna dish the sauce, filling, and noodles are cooked on the stove, assembled, and then baked, or in my case, solar baked. It was ready in time for lunch and there was enough for dinner too.

I probably won't be making this again. It was good, but not great, and extremely rich. I did eat some of the taleggio before melting it in the sauce, and that was great. In the future I may try paring the taleggio cheese with its natural partner, polenta. That would really bring me back to my youth in Milan. Unfortunately polenta is the one food I know of that Martin does not like. Mmmm, when is the next boys' night out?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Busy Day of Solar Cooking

It was a beautiful sunny day and I was able to make the most of it. I put the Sun Oven out first thing so it would be ready to go as early as possible. For starters Martin had a Trader Joe's chocolate croissant. He remembered to take it out of the freezer before going to bed last night and it was deliciously golden brown in time for his (late) breakfast.

Next up were the pumpkin muffins, and this time no mix! I made them entirely from scratch using a recipe I found at With a little bit of creativity I managed to fit two muffin pans in the Sun Oven at once. Who knew that canning jar rings could be so versatile? Even though I cut the recipe in half it still yielded two dozen muffins, but with only two muffin pans I had to bake two batches. I froze most of them. It's a good recipe, low in fat, and the muffins were moist and tasty. I used a little less sugar than called for and they and would cut back even more next time.

Finally we have a batch of BBQ chicken legs. They're easy to prepare and cook quickly. I'll have a few for dinner while Martin is out with the boys.

Going into my sixth month I'm still amazed at how much I can get out of this small, odd looking, little appliance and the power of the sun.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Solar Cooked Beans and Wheat Berries

It was another day of intermittent clouds so to be on the safe side I decided to solar cook beans and wheat berries to make soup. After soaking them overnight I put them in two separate pots and let them solar cook all day. Surprisingly neither of them were over-cooked.

At dinnertime I pureed half of the beans in their cooking liquid and combined them and the wheat berries with a base of diced onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and strained tomatoes that I'd prepared last night. The outcome was a very satisfying winter's night meal.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Whole Wheat Bread Half Solar Baked

Today's weather was pretty much the exact opposite of yesterday. There wasn't a cloud in sight when I got up. It seemed like the perfect day for solar baking. The sun was still out in force and the Sun Oven was at 350ºF  when I put the loaves in at 11:15 a.m. I don't know where they came from, but half an hour later there were clouds everywhere. The Sun Oven temperature was plummeting. I felt I had no other choice then to move the bread to the indoor oven where I baked it for an additional 30 minutes.

Shortly after the bread was out of the electric oven, and half eaten, the sun came back out for the rest of the afternoon. I'm not sure what would have happened had I not moved it indoors. It would have been in the Sun Oven with no sun for almost an hour. I suppose if I had really wanted to put solar cooking to the test I would have left it out there. I guess I wasn't in the mood for risk taking today.

Tomorrow's forecast is similar to today's and I will be out all day. I'll be putting a bean and wheat berry soup in the Sun Oven before I leave. We'll see what happens with intermittent sunshine.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Solar Baked Cobbler

When I saw the overcast sky this morning I thought I'd have a day off. I was planning on baking some bread and had even got up a little early to give the dough enough time to rise but it was so cloudy that I didn't even start it.

Amazingly by 11:30, pretty much the time the bread would have been ready to go in the Sun Oven, there were only a few scattered clouds. Now what was I going to do? Luckily I had a cobbler mix and a can of peaches.

The timing couldn't have been better. As soon as the cobbler was ready the sun disappeared again. We even got some rain. The cobbler was pretty good, a little on the sweet side, not sure if it was the fault of the mix or the canned peaches, next time I'll use fresh fruit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkey and Rice Solar Bake

This year I really want to use all the left over turkey. I made the usual sandwiches on Sunday - I was out of town until late last night so we had our Thanksgiving early - and put the rest of the meat in the freezer. I was planning on making a turkey pot pie but every recipe I found used tons of butter or cream or both. It was starting to get late for solar cooking and I was tired of searching the internet for recipes so I decided to improvise.

To get things started I put a pot of brown rice in the Sun Oven. While that was solar cooking I rummaged around in the freezer and the pantry where I found a bag of mixed frozen vegetables and a jar of turkey gravy. I sauteed an onion and two stalks of celery in some butter for about ten minutes, added the frozen vegetables, about two cups of diced turkey meat, a little water, and let it simmer until the vegetables were soft. When the rice was ready I mixed it with the turkey and vegetable, and the jar of gravy, put it in a glass baking dish, covered it with parchment paper and put it back in the Sun Oven.

To be honest my expectations were not very high. Something edible was all I really hoped for. To my surprise it turned out pretty good. It even had a nice crunchy layer on top. We both had seconds.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Solar Brunch

With enough food in the fridge to feed a small army I was tempted to not do any solar cooking today. Not only do I have the leftovers of a fifteen pound turkey, my cousin also brought me a huge piece of porchetta from a recent dinner party at her house.

  The sun was shining so I had to make something.

We slept in late, late enough to allow the sun to rise enough to be able to solar cook eggs for breakfast. I cracked two eggs over some leftover greens, some salt and pepper, twenty minutes in the Sun Oven, and breakfast was served. Pretty simple stuff. I had the rest of the day free and got a chance to attend an open house at the Adobe Mountain Wildlife Center.

I'm leaving early tomorrow morning, hopefully Martin has enough food to make it until I get back. Next solar cooking update will be after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey from the Sun Oven. A Little Early

It took every minute of available sunlight, but we pulled it off. At exactly 3:00 p.m. the probe thermometer reached 180ºF. Our guest don't arrive until seven so we carved it - more like let the meat fall off the bone - and will reheat it when they get here.

Sun Oven turkey is definitely the way to go. It leaves your indoor oven available for all the side dishes and makes a moist, succulent, roast out of what is too often a dry and disappointing Thanksgiving main attraction.

The Turkey Is in the Sun Oven

Put the turkey, unstuffed, in the Sun Oven at 9:15 a.m. The sky is clear with no sign of clouds. Keeping my fingers crossed. Updates to follow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Blueberry Pie!

I love pie, but I only make it two or three times a year, Thanksgiving, Christmas and - my favorite - Pi Day (Mar. 14th or 3.14). With so few chances to practice I've given up on making my own crust. Especially now that you can get good quality ready made, frozen pie shells. For the filling I used four cups of frozen blueberries, 1/4 cup flour, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp grated lemon peel and 1tsp vanilla extract. It took about three hours to bake it in the Sun Oven. It's pretty good. I might just have to have another piece.

Tomorrow I'll be solar cooking my Thanksgiving turkey. We're celebrating early because I have to go out of town unexpectedly and Martin will be fending for himself.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Meat and Veggie Loaf

Today went well. I remembered to take the ground meat out of the freezer last night, I had all the ingredients on hand, and there was not a cloud in the sky. The meatloaf was in the Sun Oven by 10:00 a.m. I took it out around 1:00 p.m. I'm pretty sure it was done earlier; I got distracted. That's one of the good things about solar cooking, your food won't dry out so cooking times are not so important.

I used my basic meatloaf recipe and added some shredded carrots and zucchini to make it a little lighter. My favorite part is the aluminum foil loaf lifter. A trick I found somewhere online. Take a piece of tin foil, fold it in half, and put it on the bottom of the roasting pan with the ends hanging over the sides. When the meatloaf is ready just lift it out of the pan. Whoever thought this up is a culinary genius.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Slow Cooked Solar Split Pea Soup

No new recipes today. Just a nice pot of split pea soup. My dentist had to replace a failed implant yesterday and for the meantime I have a gaping hole on the upper left side of my mouth. I figured the less chewing I did  the better. This soup is so easy to make that once I got it in the Sun Oven I completely forgot about it for hours. Just the kind of thing you want when you're not feeling too good.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Crispy BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

Almost everyone agrees that the Sun Oven makes a mean chicken. One of my favorite solar cooked meals is chicken with rice, but sometimes I miss the crispy skin of grilled chicken. I have been trying to come up with a way to keep the meat out of its own cooking juices with the hope of obtaining a nice crunch.

I decided an uncovered pan and a dry spice rub would be the best way to go. I choose drumsticks because they would cook faster, averting any risk of the skin burning before the meat was ready.  After rubbing the drumsticks with the spice mix I placed them in a dark roasting pan with a broiler insert. I put them in the Sun Oven just before 10:00 a.m. and left for my dentist appointment.

I'd like to be able to tell you the I got the desired result, crispy skin and moist meat, but the dentist put me on a liquid diet for twenty four hours and when I got home I was in too much pain to even think about ignoring his instructions. The skin felt crispy to touch, and a few hours and a couple of pain pills later I tried one. It was cold by then and the skin had lost any crispiness it might have had, but the meat was moist and delicious.

I'll file this recipe away for super bowl Sunday.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lentil Bolognese

A pretty uneventful solar cooking day. I made a lentil bolognese sauce for Meatless Monday. It's a very easy to make, satisfying topping for whole wheat pasta and comes out great in the Sun Oven.

Lentil Bolognese

1/2 lb dry lentils

1 Tbs olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 26 oz carton Pomi strained tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or frozen basil
freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Rinse and pick over lentils. Place in a dark pot, cover with water, and cook in Sun Oven until tender.  Add wine and cook until it evaporates. Add Pomi (or other brand strained tomatoes), salt, and transfer to Sun Oven.

When lentils are tender drain and combine with tomato mixture. Continue cooking for another ten to twenty minutes. Remove from Sun Oven and add basil. Serve over pasta with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

It a separate pot heat olive oil and sautee diced vegetables until tender, about 10 minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

BBQ Pork Riblets

 With not a cloud in the sky this morning my solar cooking blog was back in business. I found some pork riblets marked down at my local Fresh and Easy and since I still had a craving for ribs after throwing some out on Friday I snatched them up. I'd never heard of riblets before, but figured with a bit of spice rub and a few drops of liquid smoke I'd get a couple of pulled pork sandwiches out of them. And that I did. Not bad for $1.89 plus the cost of the buns.

This weeks forecast looks very promising. I should be able to cook something in my Sun Oven every day without any worries.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Another day of uncertain weather. I tried to outsmart the clouds with some muffins. I thought they'd be done before the major cloud cover rolled in. Once again I was wrong. The sun was gone before I'd even gotten them in the muffin pans. Sunday's forecast is bright and sunny. I'll take today off and do some real solar cooking tomorrow.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Raw Ribs

Once again I had to leave home early. Too early to know if the clouds would clear or not. I should have gone with my gut feeling that they would not, but I didn't. There were a few spots of sun in the west, but to the east dark grey clouds covered the entire sky. Against my better judgement I put some ribs in the Sun Oven and left to attend an all day seminar.

 The ribs never really stood a chance. As I sat in the conference hall, unable to rescue them from the elements, I watched the sun come out, only to vanish after a few minutes, over and over, until it finally retreated for good. If you added it all up I'd estimate we got a total of one hour of good sunlight. It was not enough. There would be no solar cooked meal to greet me at the end of the long day. The only thing I could do to salvage our dinner was make reservations.

 When I got home the Sun Oven was cold and the ribs were pink inside. Definitely not safe to eat. This is the first food I've had to throw away due to undercooking since I started my blog. Luckily I wasn't having company tonight.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Clouds From Dusk Till Dawn

No solar cooking today, just clouds, clouds, and more clouds.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Turkey Surprise

At 7:00 a.m. it's hard to tell what the day has in store for you cloud wise. This morning it was overcast in the west, but the eastern horizon looked promising with some bits of sunlight seeping through. I had to leave for my shift at the Arizona Humane Society before it was possible to determine which would prevail, but I had to pick a side. If I put the turkey thighs out and the clouds conquered, I'd come home to salmonella soup, if, on the other hand, the sun broke through, and I hadn't put anything out, it would be  too late to get any solar cooking done today. I put my money on the partly cloudy eastern sky and set the Sun Oven out.
  No fancy recipe today, just another dry run leading up to Thanksgiving. I put two turkey thighs with some garlic and thyme in an oven bag, put it in an uncovered roasting pan, went off to do my volunteer work, and hoped for the best. I was working in the windowless clinic again so it was hard to monitor the weather. At nine a.m. I stepped outside. The sky was so grey that if it weren't for the fact that it's November and I was wearing a short sleeved t-shirt, I wouldn't have known I was in Arizona. I didn't leave the building again until noon. It was still mostly cloudy, but there was enough sunlight to cast a good shadow. My turkey might have made it after all.
  When I got home the Sun Oven was at 200ºF; hot enough for safe cooking. There was too much condensation on the glass door to tell if the Turkey was ready, but I didn't want to open it and lose any precious heat. I was willing to bet that at such a low temperature it needed to cook longer. The sun was still making an effort to get the better of the clouds, so I left it alone.
The sun fought hard. For the next few hours it seemed to be winning, but right around 3:00 p.m. - when I probably would have brought the turkey in anyway - the clouds staged a major come-back. It was time to call it a day. Luckily, the few hours of sunlight had been enough to fully solar cook the two thighs; they were very tasty and would be perfect for Thansgiving.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Zucchini Chips Win Again

With plenty of leftover brisket in the fridge for dinner I took advantage of the available Sun Oven to do some more experimenting with veggie chips. Today I made a combination of beets, parsnips, and zucchini and once again the zucchini chips are the best. Next time I'm going to use zucchini only.
Veggie chips are very easy to make. Just slice the vegetables thin and spread them out on baking trays coated with cooking spray. Another light spray on the vegetables and place them in the Sun Oven with the door propped open on the latches to allow the steam to escape.  To make the most of the room in the oven chamber I stacked four pizza pans, using metal canning rings to keep them separated. This time we managed to not devour them immediately and I'm looking forward to enjoying them with our lunch tomorrow after volunteering at the Arizona Humane Society.