Monday, May 31, 2010

Deep Fried Bean Patties

I'll quite often start a dish inside, sauteing vegetables or browning meat, before putting it in the Sun Oven. Today I did the opposite. The beans were solar cooked first, then the patties were deep fried. The recipe is one from a collection of recipes that I cut out of Italian magazines over twenty years ago. I don't use them very often, but always get a kick out of how they are written. Unlike American recipes with their precise measurements and detailed instructions, Italian recipes are more like the instructions you'd get from Grandma if you called her and asked how to make a family favorite.

Here's the recipe as it was written:

Ingredients for 6 people:
500 gm dried beans, 1 onion, 1 celery stalk, 1 whole clove, 3 eggs, bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons grated parmesan, oil for frying.

(No mention of what kind of beans or if the onion should be quartered, chopped or sliced; same goes for the celery. And how much bread crumbs will you need? The instructions don't help much either.)

It goes on to say:

Soak beans overnight, then simmer them with the onion, celery, clove, and the salt. (salt was not mentioned in the ingredients) Drain and mash, add 3 egg yolks (oh, the eggs need to be separated?), the cheese, and enough bread crumbs to obtain a good consistency (whatever that means). Mix well. Make patties that you will dip in the beaten egg whites and then coat with bread crumbs and fry in hot oil. Serve immediately.

So what did I do? I used cranberry beans. That's usually what "beans" means in an Italian recipe. Then I messed up by converting 500 gm (1/2 kilo) to 1/2 pound. I didn't catch my mistake until after I'd mixed in the three egg yolks, of course. I quartered the onion and the celery stalk and removed them, and the clove, before mashing the beans. Probably due to the fact that I only used half the amount of beans the recipe called for and all three of the eggs my mixture was a bit moist. I wound up adding 1/4 cup of bread crumbs. I assume you'd need less than that with the correct bean to egg ratio. The instructions don't say how many, or what size patties. I got twelve good sized ones, probably about 1/4 - 1/3 cup mixture per patty. I really think the full recipe would serve at least eight people. Finally, in the picture in the magazine, and mine, you can clearly see lemon wedges. Granted, Italians always squeeze fresh lemon on deep fried foods, but it's an important enough touch to merit at least a mention.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Solar Baked Potatoes to the Rescue!

 For a brief moment I thought I was going to get a day off from solar cooking; a Facebook friend's status update this morning said something about clouds - and yes, I checked Facebook before looking out the window - but turns out he was in Seattle for the weekend, so no such luck. Uncharacteristically for me, I had no idea what I wanted for dinner and found no inspiration among the contents of my fridge and pantry. I spent most of the morning lying on the couch consulting cookbooks, but the spark just wasn't there. When 1 o'clock rolled in it was time to resort to the Solar Oven Chef's solar cooking project of last resort - baked potatoes, the one thing you can always build a meal around later.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Solar Puttanesca Sauce

Puttanesca is a classic Italian pasta sauce. It's easy to make and very tasty. Today's batch was entirely cooked in the Sun Oven, including sauteing the garlic. The ingredients are olive oil, minced garlic, anchovy paste, strained tomatoes, olives, capers, and crushed red pepper. So many people are turned off by anchovies and capers, but in this sauce the anchovy paste is dissolved in the oil and the capers are minced, if you don't tell anyone they won't know they're there.

Puttanesca Pasta Sauce

2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp anchovy paste
3 cups strained tomatoes, preferably Pomì
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tbs drained capers, finely chopped
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper

Put oil, garlic and anchovy paste in a a dark enameled pot and place in Sun Oven. Sauté until garlic is fragrant. And strained tomatoes, olives, capers, crushed red pepper. Cover and simmer in Sun Oven for approx. 40 minutes. Serve over pasta with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Friday, May 28, 2010

More Zucchini Stuffed with Salmon

Not new recipe, not even any new twist to it. I made it  a couple of weeks ago and liked it enough to make it again today. Don't let the picture fool you, one can of salmon goes a long way, I actually had to use two baking dishes and stack them in the Sun Oven, only half the zucchini are pictured here, it's enough for six to eight servings. Looks like we'll be having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Solar Sicilian Potato Gratin

I made this potato dish once before during the first weeks of my blog. I remember liking it, but for some reason haven't made it again until now. It's a good alternative to the traditional, heavy on cream and cheese, potato gratin; and it gives me an excuse to use my mandolin slicer.

The onions do need to be browned on the stove before assembling the gratin, but that can easily be done while you're slicing the potatoes.

Sicilian Potato Gratin

1 garlic clove, halved
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped onions
Kosher salt
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
6 Tbs grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided
3 Tbs drained capers
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

Set Sun Oven up to preheat. Rub 11x7 - inch glass baking dish with cut side of garlic clove. Brush dish with olive oil. Heat 1 Tbs oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
Arrange 1/4 of the potatoes in even layer in prepared dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter 1/3 of the onions over. Sprinkle with 1 Tbs Pecorino Romano and 1/4 of the capers. Repeat for two more layers drizzling 1/2 Tbs olive oil on third layer.
Arrange remaining potato slices over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remaining capers. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 Tbs olive oil. Pour chicken broth over. Press down on potatoes to compact gratin.
Cover gratin tightly with foil, cover with a dark tea cloth, place in Sun Oven, and bake until potatoes are tender, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Uncover and sprinkle with remaining 3 Tbs Pecorino Romano. Bake gratin uncovered until cheese is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Let gratin stand 10 minutes at room temperature before serving.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Solar Chicken and Chickpeas with Green Beans

This is a simply, yet satisfying chicken dish that is perfect for solar cooking. The green beans were cooked along with it, in a parchment packet that I put on top of the dutch oven towards the end of the cooking time.

Chicken with Chickpeas

1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
6 chicken thighs, skinned
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained

Combine oil, onion and turmeric in a large dutch oven. Add chicken, turning to coat. Add water, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic. Place in Sun Oven for approx. 2 hours or until chicken is tender. Mix in chickpeas and leave in Sun Oven until heated. Serve over couscous with hot sauce.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Solar Roasted Beets - Not Bad

Tuesdays are my busiest day. I have to get up earlier than usual and am away from home all day. If I want to come home to a solar cooked meal I have to do most of the prep work the night before. Last night I didn't do any. That left me with little choice other than throwing a couple of beets in the Sun Oven to roast. At least I'd have tonight's side dish taken care of.

I'll eat beets on occasion. There's a local restaurant we often go to - Joe's Farm Grill - where you can substitute beet salad for fries, and since I'm looking to cut calories wherever possible that's what I do, but I've never said to myself, "I could really go for some beets right now".

Before leaving this morning I scrubbed two beets, tossed them in a dark covered pot, and set it in the Sun Oven. In the past, out of habit, I would wrap them in tin foil first, but today I discovered that they come out even better without it. When I got home I took them out of the Sun Oven and when they were cool enough to handle I peeled them, chopped them up, and drizzled a little olive oil over them. They were so tasty I just may find myself craving more some day.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Solar Lentil Loaf and Solar Baked Asparagus

I'm not a huge fan of lentil loaf but I was feeling frugal today and had just enough lentils left over from Saturday to make one. After smashing them up a bit, I mixed in some bread crumbs, an egg, grated parmesan cheese, and garlic powder. The parchment paper lining made it easy to get out of the pan and served as a lid during baking. It actually came out a lot better than I expected. I served it with solar baked asparagus and non solar mashed potatoes. The vegetarian gravy was from a packet.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Solar Huevos Rancheros

This is my other solar egg dish. Coat a small pan with cooking spray, put one corn tortilla in each pan, spoon about half a cup of refried beans on each one making a well in the middle, crack an egg into the well and bake in the Sun Oven for twenty minutes. If you like cheese on your huevos rancheros sprinkle some on about two minutes before taking them out of the oven. After taking the huevos out of the Sun Oven season with salsa verde, sour cream, and a drop of hot sauce. They make a great solar lunch.

Saturday Lentils and Rice

This is my basic method for most legumes, in this case lentils. I put the lentils, water and a bay leaf in one pot, and in the other olive oil, chopped onions, carrot, celery, and a can of diced tomatoes. Cover both and let simmer in the Sun Oven until the lentils are soft. Drain the lentils and combine everything in one pot, replace the cover, and continue to simmer. Now there is room to make some rice. When the rice is ready so is dinner.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Amazing Two Point Solar Muffins

If you know anything about the Weight Watchers point system then you know that most muffins are more points than they're worth. The low-fat blueberry muffin that a well known chain restaurant inexplicably offers as a choice with its entrees - I mean who eats a sweet muffin with dinner? - is eleven points; over half of my daily point allowance. I don't even want to know how many points the regular muffins come out to. And as hard as I tried to modify numerous recipes, the best I'd achieved without resorting to artificial sweeteners, weird reduced fat products, or muffins so small that you'd just wind up eating more than one, was three points per muffin. But today, on a day when I really didn't feel like doing any kind of solar cooking, I found a recipe for blueberry muffins that have only two points and used real ingredients. The trick? Kodiak Cakes  Flapjack and Waffle Mix. I used the recipe on their website for low fat blueberry muffins and used Weight Watchers online tools to calculate the points. Their recipe does not specify how many muffins it yields, but I got fourteen standard sized muffins out of it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Solar Pasta Sauce and Meatloaf

Meatloaf and pasta sauce from the Sun Oven. What more could you want for dinner? And there's plenty leftover for sandwiches. The sauce was real simple. I put olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and sliced mushrooms in a dark enameled pot and put it in the pre-heated Sun Oven. After about half an hour I added a can of crushed tomatoes. The meatloaf is a mixture of ground beef, chopped onion, shredded carrots zucchini and savoy cabbage, egg, wine, and bread crumbs. I did saute the veggies for about ten minutes before mixing them in with the other ingredients and baking the loaf in the Sun Oven, so technically it's not fully solar cooked, but close enough. The pasta and the belgian endive were cooked on the stove. The pasta because while it's possible to solar cook it; as you can see in a previous blog post; it's much easier to boil it the traditional way. And the endive? That could have easily been solar cooked. If fact I had planned on solar cooking it, but I forgot - and then the sun went down.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sun Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted butternut squash is one of my favorite side dishes. We had some leftover lentil stew from Monday - when it was to cloudy to cook outside - and a squash in the fridge that needed cooking. Put the two together and you get a nice meal. To roast the squash just cut it in half, remove the seeds, slice, spread out in a glass baking dish, add a drizzle of olive oil, a little kosher salt, place in the Sun Oven, and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Phyllo Peach Pockets

I had to find something to do with all the peaches we got on Saturday. Pie was tempting, but I wanted something a little less calorie laden. I got the idea for these from a Weight Watchers recipe. I've used it with all kinds of fruit, peaches and blueberries are my favorite, and like cupcakes, they have built in portion control. They can also be frozen, which is what happened to the six that are missing - I had them wrapped and squirreled away when I realized I hadn't taken a picture.

Sun Baked Phyllo Fruit Cups

8 sheets of phyllo dough, defrosted
4 peaches, cubed
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbs flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat Sun Oven and spray a 8 cup cupcake pan with nonstick spray.
Toss peaches, sugar, flour, cinnamon and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Place on sheet of phyllo dough on work surface (keep remaining sheets of phyllo covered to prevent drying). Lightly spray the phyllo with cooking spray. Cut into four rectangles. Stack rectangles on top of each other. Repeat with remaining phyllo sheets. Carefully press each stack into the greased cupcake pan. Divide blueberry mixture evenly among phyllo lined cups. Cover with the edges of the phyllo dough. Lightly spray fruit cups with cooking spray and sprinkle with additional sugar.
Bake in Sun Oven until golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Oh, and in case you were wondering - yesterday was too cloudy for solar cooking.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

All American Solar Dinner

You can't get much more American than BBQ pulled pork and corn on the cob and both are easy to make in the Sun Oven. I normally use a premixed purchased spice rub, but today I made my own, and I was pleased to discover that it's much better - not to mention cheaper. Rub the spices all over the pork shoulder, sprinkle some liquid smoke on it, put it in a dark covered pot, and let it gently simmer away in the Sun Oven. The aromas will make your neighbors think you've got a BBQ pit.

The corn on the cob was an afterthought. I didn't even put it in the Sun Oven until after 4 p.m. I'd gone to the store to get some salad fixings and it looked too good to pass up. As you can see in the picture you can cook it in its husk. Give it a good wash and put it in the Sun Oven as is. You can cook it along with your main dish, just set it next to, or on top of the pot.

Basic Dry Rub - adapted from "Cheater BBQ" by Mindy Merrell and R.B. Quinn

1/4 cup paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon dry mustard

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pasta e Ceci for Dinner

Luckily I got this going before heading out to the the peach festival at Schnepf Farms, because after a morning in the Arizona sun the last thing I want to do is cook. At dinnertime all I had to do was boil the pasta. We'd had a late lunch at the Queen Creek Olive Mill so neither of us was very hungry; a bowl of pasta and chickpea soup and few fresh peaches for dessert was all we needed.

Pasta e Ceci

Pasta e Ceci (chickpea and pasta soup)

1/2 lb dry chickpeas
1 TBS olive oil
1 leek, white and pale green part only, chopped (or 1 small onion)
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup chopped tomatoes, preferably Pomì
1 cup small tubular pasta such as ditalini
2 TBS chopped fresh rosemary
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
freshly grated parmesan cheese

You will need two pots that fit side by side in the Sun Oven

Soak chickpeas overnight. Drain, put chickpeas in a dark pot with enough water to cover them by about an inch. Put olive oil, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, and tomatoes in another dark pot. Place both pots, side by side, in the Sun Oven. When chickpeas are cooked remove both pots from solar oven. Set aside 1 cup chickpeas. Combine the remaining chickpeas with the other ingredients in a large pot and blend with a emersion blender. If soup is too thick add some water. Stir in the reserved chickpeas, salt and pepper to taste and if at this point there is still enough sunshine you can add the pasta and put the soup back in the Sun Oven. Just before serving stir in the rosemary and balsamic vinegar. Serve with parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. If it's too late to cook the pasta in the solar oven complete the soup on the stovetop. Do not cook the pasta until you are ready to eat or it will get mushy. Serves 4 to 6.

Friday, May 14, 2010

No Fail Solar Eggs

 Once again there's nothing new from the Sun Oven today. Just a batch of solar baked eggs with spinach.
 Take six room eggs at room temperature, crack them in to muffin greased muffin tins lined with fresh spinach leaves, and bake in a pre-heated Sun Oven for twenty minutes. They come out perfect every time and can be frozen for future use. Just remember to set a timer and you can't go wrong. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Solar Split Pea Soup - Always a Good Choice

Yesterday's parchment paper party was about as much excitement as I can handle in one week, so today it was back to an old favorite - split pea soup. It turned out to be a good choice. The weather was marginal, as far as solar cooking goes. At one point it was completely overcast and, as luck would have it, that was during the only two hours I was not at home. But no need to worry. Even if the Sun Oven's temperature did drop while I was away the soup doesn't have any ingredients that could easily poison us, just oil, onion, carrots, celery, split peas, and marjoram.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Parchment Paper Produce Party

I had so much fun cooking asparagus in a parchment paper the other day that today I went a little veggie crazy. It felt like Christmas when I took everything out of the Sun Oven and opened all the packets.

The only thing I had in the fridge were some carrots so I got those started - I figured they'd need to cook longer than most vegetables - and headed off to the grocery store. The pickings were slim. I got a fennel bulb, some belgian endive, and a head of radicchio which I wound up not using. I also managed to round up a few, small, zucchini from our garden. For seasoning I used olive oil, kosher salt, tarragon on the carrots, fresh mint on the zucchini, and lemon on the fennel.

Parchment paper packets should come in handy. It would be easy to place them along side, or on top of, the main dish when another pot might not fit in the Sun Oven. And like I mentioned in my previous post - clean up is a cinch.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Solar Hobo Chicken

I got this recipe from the book "Cheater BBQ: Barbecue Anytime, Anywhere, in Any Weather". It's about as simple as they come. They use a crock-pot, but pretty much anything that can be made in a crock-pot can be made better in a Sun Oven. You line your pot - I used my oval black enamel roasting pan - with a large enough piece of tin foil to wrap the chicken, put the chicken in it, rub it with the spice mixture, put a quartered onion in the cavity, pour 1/4 cup of liquid smoke on it, and wrap it in the tin foil. I'm not quite sure what the tin foil is for. The book claims that skin will brown nicely but mine came out soggy. The overall flavor and texture of the bird was good, but "Chicken with Two Lemons" is still my favorite Sun Oven chicken recipe.

Monday, May 10, 2010

No Mess Baked Asparagus

The most challenging part of today's solar cooking project was maintaining the correct oven temperature. I got the idea to bake asparagus in a parchment paper packet from an article in the New York Times. Once the asparagus is seasoned - I used olive oil and kosher salt - and wrapped in the paper, it is then baked at 200ºF for about ninety minutes. Out of habit I set the Sun Oven out and focused it towards the sun for maximum exposure. When my packet was ready to go the oven had already reached 350ºF. I fiddled with the Sun Oven's position and got it down to the desired temperature by turning it out of the direct sunlight. I did need to continue turning it every twenty minutes or so to keep the temperature from dropping too far. It's actually a pretty good method for cooking asparagus. I like the texture and flavor much better than a steamer. I think I'll try the same technique with other vegetables especially because Sun Oven + parchment paper = zero clean up!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Solar Salmon Stuffed Zucchini

In may seem kind of silly to buy zucchini when we're going to be inundated with them from our garden in a few weeks, but this is what I wanted to eat today so that's what I did. It's easy to make. I used my salmon loaf recipe to stuff the hollowed out zucchini. I didn't have a big enough covered pan to fit all of them so I used a useful solar cooking trick; take a glass baking dish, cover it tightly with tin foil, then cover that with a dark tea cloth before placing it in the Sun Oven. It works, trust me. The tea cloth will not catch of fire and if you don't use one the heat will be deflected out of the cooking chamber and ruin your food.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sun Oven Soup

  Today I had little desire to cook anything and even less desire to go grocery shopping. Luckily I had quite a few leftovers in the fridge and I managed to throw together a pot of soup, Pasta Fagioli, to be exact. I started with a base of chopped leeks, celery, garlic, and a can of petite diced tomatoes. Normally I'd use carrots too, but I didn't have any. I tossed everything into the pot with a little olive oil. I didn't even bother to saute it first - it went straight into the Sun Oven.

  After an hour or so in the Sun Oven it was time to add the rest of the ingredients. About two cups of beans that I'd cooked earlier in the week, a carton of broth, and the pasta.

  Then it was back to the Sun Oven for another hour or so. When it was ready I stirred in a little more olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. A dusting of parmesan cheese and dinner was served.

  I must say, solar cooking is perfect when you don't want to cook. It took me maybe all of five minutes to chop the vegetables, the Sun Oven did the rest.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Solar Chicken and Cupcakes

I don't know how it happened, but I totally forgot to update my blog yesterday. I baked the cupcakes, took the pictures, even thought about what I was going to say, but after a night out I went straight to bed because I had to get up early this morning.

Yesterday was a pretty non eventful day solar cooking-wise. I had planned on making chicken, but then I remembered we wouldn't be home for dinner, so I baked vanilla cupcakes - from a mix - instead. I spent most of the morning debating whether to go to the store for some apple sauce or just go ahead and use the full stick of butter the directions on the box called for. I finally decided to go with the butter. While it was melting in the Sun Oven I got the brilliant idea to substitute half the butter with a mashed banana, which I had on hand. The next step was to determine how many cupcakes the mix would yield. As a cake it was supposed to come out to nine servings, so I figured twelve cupcakes would be plenty. I was wrong. As you can see from the picture I had to get a little creative, using custard cups for the excess batter, and even then the muffin tins were overfilled. Hopefully the next time I use the mix - it's from Trader Joe's and it's pretty good - I'll remember that I can get twelve cupcakes out of it. I like to make cupcakes because they freeze well. Not that polishing of an entire cake would be a problem for the two of us.

I'm actually pretty proud of today's solar cooking project. Not because it's a complicated recipe, but because it took a little planing. I had to go out early today, leaving Martin in charge of setting up the Sun Oven. So I did most of the work yesterday. I took four chicken thighs, trimmed the excess fat, put some garlic and rosemary under the skin, rubbed them with some salt and pepper, covered them with some lemon slices and refrigerated them overnight. Martin put them in the Sun Oven in the afternoon and when I got home I made a nice risotto to go with them. And although the risotto was not solar cooked it is worth mentioning that it was made with zucchini flowers from our garden.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Quick Solar Lunch

It was hot and sunny and I had no idea what I was going to cook today. I was out most of the day, but I did make it home for lunch. It seemed like a good day to whip up a batch of 20 minute solar eggs. Now that I know to set the timer, they come out perfect every time. Even with the little amount of time I had, and the total lack of planning, we managed to have at least one solar cooked meal today. Dinner was leftovers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Solar Lunch and Dinner

Most recipes for lamb shanks call for one shank per serving, but I think that's way too much. I take the meat off the bones before serving it. That way there's always some leftover for shepherd's pie. This is another solar hybrid. I boiled the potatoes, rutabaga, and parsnip for the topping and sauteed the leeks, mushrooms, and zucchini for the filling on the stove before assembling the pie and baking it in the Sun Oven. Other ingredients of the filling were the leftover lamb, a little bit of water, a packet of brown gravy mix and frozen peas. It makes four generous servings. It was ready early enough to have it for both lunch and dinner. Not bad, six meals from two lamb shanks.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Easy Vegetarian Solar Chili

The weather was back to normal today. Sun, sun, and more sun. Made a pot of vegetarian chili. It was a two step process. First I cooked some beans, you could use canned, but I like the taste of dried beans better. When they were tender I added them to the other ingredients and let the whole thing simmer some more. Martin had a bowl of it as a snack when he got home. For dinner I served it over pasta.

Vegetarian Chili

1/2 lb dry pinto beans
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 15 oz can mexican stewed tomatoes
1 15 oz can pumpkin
salt to taste

Soak beans overnight, drain, add enough water to cover them by an inch and simmer in the Sun Oven until tender. In a pot large enough to hold all the ingredients saute the onion in the oil until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and the drained cooked beans. Simmer in the Sun Oven until the sweet potatoes are soft.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Windy Day in Phoenix

Today's crazy weather caught me totally off guard. All morning there wasn't a cloud in the sky. I didn't even bother to check the forecast. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? I took my time getting the lamb shanks ready. I already knew this was going to be a mixed medium meal, that is not entirely solar cooked. The onions and lamb shanks were browned on the stove before transferring everything to the Sun Oven. By the time that was done there were a few clouds in the sky, nothing of real concern, braised meats by definition cook at a low temperature for a long time.

With dinner simmering happily away I went about my business. I kept an eye on the cloud situation, it was once again a day of on again off again sunshine, but the Sun Oven seemed to be maintaining a satisfactory temperature. I don't know why I finally decided to check the forecast on, but when I did I was surprised to see a big banner at the top of the page that said "Red Alert! High Wind Warning! Chance of Thunderstorms!". I'd never seen that before. I'd barely finished reading it when the wind in fact did pick up and within minutes the partly cloudy sky was completely overcast and dark. It was time to move the lamb inside. But wait, it doesn't end here. Half an hour later the sun came out again so I moved the lamb back to the Sun Oven where it stayed until dinnertime. And with all the back and forth I'd worked up a nice appetite.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mix Saves the Day

When it's past noon and I still haven't decided what to put in the Sun Oven I know it's time to reach for a mix. This one from Calhoun Bend Mill for Cherry Oatmeal Crunch is pretty good, especially with unsweetened canned cherries. All you have to do is add butter (I used half butter and half applesauce) sprinkle it over the drained cherries, and bake. The instructions say to add some sugar to the cherries, but I don't. It's sweet enough without it.