Solar Beans and Bacon

Bean and Bacon Stew

This stew is filling enough on its own but for a heartier meal add some grilled sausages. Either way, serve it with some good, crusty bread to soak up all the juices.

Sun Oven Bean and Bacon Stew


4 slices previously cooked bacon, chopped

3 cups previously cooked white beans, (Great Northern, Navy, Cannellini, or Mayocoba)

2 tablespoons bacon fat (or olive oil)

1 onion, chopped

3 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup broth, (chicken, vegetable, or beef)

1/4 cup white wine

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste


Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

Heat the bacon fat in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the bacon, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, wine, bay leaves, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine, cover and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the vegetables are soft and the flavors have blended, about 2 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


Green Beans Facts

Green BeansGreen Bean Info

  • Green beans are one of the few varieties of beans that can be eaten fresh. Since they are picked while the beans are immature, we are actually eating the seed pods.
  • They are a great source for many nutrients including vitamins C & K, manganese and fiber. They are also filled with colorful pigments, carotenoids – like carrots and tomatoes. We don’t see these colors because the chlorophyll concentration is so high, it masks them, but heir benefits are there.
  • 60% of all commercially grown green beans are available in the United States. You can grow them in your back yard. We planted 12 seeds of “Kentucky Wonder” bush bean variety this year and are harvesting enough beans to feed the two of us every five days. You keep picking, they keep blooming and creating new beans.
  • Early summer is the best time to obtain them at the least expense.
  • The highest food value is obtained from fresh beans, but you can still get valuable nutrients from green beans that are frozen or canned.
  • Frozen beans, when cooked retain about 90% of their B vitamins.  Canned ones lose more food value, but some is better than none when you are hungry.Green Bean Plants
  • Green beans have the highest antioxidant capacity of all the other members of the pea and bean families, with a diverse mixture of flavonoids and carotenoids, including lutein.
  • They also are a good source of the mineral silicon, which is important for bone health and for healthy formation of connective tissue.
  • Additional health benefits include cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory and prevention of type 2 diabetes.
  • Known by their Latin name, Phaseolus vulgaris, beans derived from a common bean ancestor, originating in Peru. From there, they were spread to South & Central America by migrating Indian tribes. They were introduced into Europe by Spanish explorers.
  • Unwashed beans stored in a plastic bag will keep refrigerated for about seven days.
  • Wash before cooking and cut off both ends. Steam them for five minutes and season to taste.

Reference                                                       10 Tips on Growing Bush Beans


Billie Nicholson, Editor
June 2014

Alternative Protein Sources

What are your plans to provide alternative protein sources in an emergency situation?

As you collect canned goods don’t forget about this vital nutrient. The human body is nearly half protein, found in muscles, blood, antibodies and enzymes which make other body functions work. Often commercially processed meats are loaded with salt to enhance the flavor.  There are other sources. Here are some items to consider adding to your supplies.

  1. Nuts and Seeds – are high in protein and healthy fats. If you buy them prepackaged, they are ready to eat. They only last six months to a year, depending on the type of nut. Their high oil content reduces shelf life. Peanut butter is high in protein and available dried.
  2. Beans - are one of the longest cultivated plants, easy to digest and high in fiber. They also help maintain stable blood sugar levels by slowing the rate of carbohydrate absorption.1 Dried beans are economical and store well for an extended period of time. Store them in jars or mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. They will require water for presoaking before cooking, so plan ahead when preparing them. Cook with anise or coriander seeds to reduce flatulence as they’re digested by microbes in your intestine. There are lots of varieties for your culinary pleasure. Canned beans can be eaten right after opening, even cold in a power down situation.
  3. Chia Seeds - have double the amount of protein found in other seeds. Humans began eating chia seeds around 3500 BC. Aztecs and Mayans considered them magical because they increased stamina and energy over long periods. Chia seeds are high in fiber, omega fatty acids, calcium, and antioxidants as well. Because they absorb 12 times their weight, their expansion in your stomach will curb your appetite.
  4. Protein Powders – are available in three common forms, whey, soy and casein. Whey is the most popular because it is a water-soluble milk protein. It contains all nine amino acids necessary to build proteins in the human body. Soy has been favored by vegans, but recently it has been associated with altering estrogen balance. Casein powder is used with cheese production.
  5. Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) - is produced from soy flour after the oil has been extracted. It is cooked under pressure, extruded and dried. Soy flour has a long shelf life if kept in a cool, dry place. With varying flavors added, it can taste like sausage, beef, ham, bacon or chicken. Easily rehydrated, it is economical and an excellent meat substitute or meal extender. One ounce of TVP is the equivalent of three ounces of meat.
  6. Freeze-dried Meat - has the water removed through sublimation, which turns water molecules into vapor. Freeze-drying food affects meat’s texture more than other preservation techniques. They are extremely light and easy to carry but more expensive to purchase. While some fruits taste great freeze-dried, meat will need to be rehydrated.
  7. Powdered Eggs and Milk – made by spray drying, the process removes nearly all of the water prohibiting the growth of microorganisms. Non-fat dried milk is best for long term storage.  Eggs are available as whole, yolks and whites. Store cool and dry. Refrigerate when opened.

Billie Nicholson, Editor 2014





Additional Articles in the April 2014 Issue:

  • A reminder to review and rotate three types of items in your 72 hour emergency kit.
  • A discussion of the importance of “duck and cover” in surviving a nuclear attack
  • Are members of your family hearing impaired that might not hear a smoke alarm?
  • Our featured contributor this month is Tess Pennington of She shares an article about Bio Mass Briquettes. Now you’ll have an environmentally friendly use for those shredded documents.
  • Sun Ovens are a perfect partner for bio mass briquettes, here’s how …
  • Some of our friends have complained that their yards were so shady that they doubted they could grow anything in a garden. In answer to their questions, here are some plants that can be grown in shade. Don’t give up on your yard either. Read more …
  • Speaking of gardening, do you use Epsom salts? Here’s why.
  • We can all be prepared to take the initiative to save a life, should we be faced with a life or death situation. Here are three critical first aid procedures that can be accomplished with one dressing.
  • Our Solar Chef has included a wonderful recipe for Solar Stuffed Shells. Give it a try, these are yummy.

 Billie Nicholson, Editor
April 2014

Solar Cook Today, Eat Today… and Tomorrow

With a little planning you can enjoy solar cooked meals even on cloudy days. Set aside some of the beans from this soup for lunch on a rainy day.

Sun Oven Vegetarian Back Bean Soup


1 pound dried black beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

Read more »

Sun Oven Italian Beans

Beans that have been seasoned while they cook make a great side dish on their own or they can be stored in the refrigerator for use in soups, stews, risottos, or pasta dishes.

Italian Style Beans


1 pound dried cranberry or cannellini beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained

Read more »

Solar White Bean Chili

Whether you call it chili or soup this rich bean stew makes a great dinner on a cold night. The first step, sauteing the onion and garlic, can be done stove top or in the Sun Oven. Use a cast-iron Dutch oven if starting out on the stove or a light-weight metal pot if you want to make it entirely in the Sun Oven.

Sun Oven White Bean Chili


2 cups dried great northern or cannellini beans, picked over, rinsed, soaked overnight, and drained

1 tablespoon olive oil

Read more »

Solar Vegetarian Chili

It’s been very busy around our house lately. Between work, school, and everything else it can be hard to find time to eat.
Having a big batch of solar cooked chili on hand makes it easy for anyone to grab a quick bite when hunger strikes.
Sun Oven Pinto Bean Chili with Sweet Potato
1/2 pound dry pinto beans soaked overnight, drained

Solar Soup with Fresh Rosemary

There were rosemary bushes all over the place in my old neighborhood. It was so easy to go for a walk and snip a couple of sprigs off of one whenever I needed it. No such luck here. Fresh herbs can be expensive, but the flavor is worth it and even though I have what ever the opposite of a green thumb is called I think I’m going to have to plant an herb garden soon.

Sun Oven White Bean Soup with Rosemary


1 pound dry cannellini beans, rinsed and picked over

2 onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for serving

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 rosemary sprig

Read more »

Texas Caviar from the Sun Oven

A few years ago I heard a piece on the radio about traditional New Years foods from around the world. I was surprised at how many different cultures consumed some kind of legume to ring in the new year. In Italy they eat lentils with a fatty boiled sausage called cotechino. It’s believed to bring good luck and prosperity for the year. I was never very fond of it and usually limited myself to a few bites just in case there was any truth to that belief. Not surprisingly, I’ve never seen cotechino in the U.S. (but I haven’t really looked for it) so I was more than happy to adopt a new tradition when I learned that black-eyed peas were the legume American’s equate with the first day of the year.

Solar Texas Caviar


1 pound dry black-eyed peas, picked over and rinsed

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 teaspoons salt

1/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

Read more »

Sun Oven Fava Bean Hummus

Fava beans make great hummus that can be served with pita bread or fresh vegetables. I prefer favas to chickpeas; they don’t need to be presoaked and make a smoother hummus. I used to buy mine at high-end, gourmet supermarkets until I found them for a fraction of the price in the Hispanic aisle of a local store. The expensive ones aren’t any better so don’t drive the extra miles or fork over the extra cash for the fancy packaging. Just make sure you get the ones that have already been shelled, otherwise they’d have to be soaked and peeled before cooking.

Fava Bean Hummus

1 1/2 cups dried, shelled fava beans, picked over and rinsed

1 clove garlic

Read more »

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