Saturday, March 20, 2010

Two Days of Solar Cooking - One Blog Entry.

Once again I was too tired post an update yesterday. I had a very busy day. I taught my first two, yes two, solar cooking classes in one day. I was very nervous beforehand, in fact, when Brent (the owner of the store where the classes were held) considered canceling it due to rain forecast, I was almost relieved. Luckily he didn't. The weather cleared up and both classes went very well. We had two Sun Ovens set up, one with rice and beans and the other with the most amazing 16 grain bread made by Kristi. If you live in the Phoenix metro area, I highly recommend you check out Brent and Kristi's store, FoodWise. It's located at 395 E. Warner in Chandler. Kristi holds weekly cooking and bread baking classes that are free. I will definitely be attending some of them in the near future. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera so I don't have any pictures of my big day. Also, despite spending the entire afternoon solar baking bread and solar cooking beans and rice, I had nothing prepared for dinner. Matin and I went to one of our favorite local spots, Joe's Farm Grill in Gilbert. By the time we got home I was exhausted.

Today I wasn't feeling very creative. We got up early to go to yard sales and by mid morning I still hadn't decided what to put in the Sun Oven. For inspiration we stopped at Trader Joe's on our way home. I found a ready to cook turkey breast with cranberry stuffing. Perfect, all I had to do was take it out of the packaging a stick in the Sun Oven, in a pot of course.

The instructions said to bake in a 350ºF oven for 20 - 30 minutes per pound. The thing about solar cooking times is that they depend a lot on the type of pot used, the quality of the sun, and how often you refocus the Sun Oven. The other thing is cooking times don't really matter. Since the food won't overcook or burn it's almost impossible to ruin it. But since I'd done nothing more than take the turkey out of the package I figured the least I could do was pay attention to the cooking time. It weighed 2.5lb. I put it in the Sun Oven at 11:45. I remembered to use my probe thermometer and at 1:15 it had reached 180ºF. It was ready.

I'm generally not very fond of these types of convenience foods. Somehow the flavors are never quite right and this was no exception. The stuffing was just so so and the meat was a little dry. I actually think it might have been better if I'd have cooked it at a lower heat with some kind of liquid, like white wine, for additional flavor. In any case, I was starving so I was happy to have it for lunch.


  1. I cannot believe you forgot your camera! I was so looking forward to some pictures. Dag nab it.
    I feel the same as you do about prepared foods -- they really don't taste exactly right. Maybe, it's the preservatives?
    Well, praise for a job well done. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Teaching is a difficult skill, I think. I've done some in my life but not too much.

    congrats on your classes!

    peace, shamba