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

Ingredients

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

Preparation

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.

 

Muffins and Cupcakes

Coffee Cake 1

Over the years I’ve tried various methods of fitting a full batch of muffins or cupcakes into the Sun Oven. Often a 12 cup pan, or two 6 cup pans placed side by side, won’t fit on the leveling tray. Plus, if  your recipe yields more than 12 muffins there’s no way to get them to fit all in one layer. I’ve found what works best for me is a combination of silicone baking molds, baking pans, muffin tins, and a metal rack. I prefer using a baking pan for the bottom layer. It provides a more stable base and, if your recipe happens to yield an extra muffin or two, it’s easy to fit in a couple of extra molds. The top layer can be a standard 6 cup muffin pan or, if you’ve got a really big batch and need to fit more than six on the top layer, another baking pan. Whichever type of pan you use for the top layer be sure to cross-stack it to allow for better air flow. Put both pans in the Sun Oven at the same time. The top will be ready a little faster (about 5 minutes) and will need to be removed first. The rack simply adds a little extra space for the bottom muffins to rise and keeps the top pan from touching them. I also try to bake anything that is cross-stacked around midday, when the sun is at it’s highest, and the Sun Oven does not need to be tilted too much.

Coffee cake 2

Solar Baked Lentils

Lentil Nut Loaf

For a heartier meal serve this lentil loaf with whole wheat pasta and extra tomato sauce.

Sun Oven Lentil and Nut Bake

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups brown lentils, picked over and rinsed

1 onion, finely chopped

4 ounces white mushrooms, chopped

1/2 bell pepper (red, yellow, orange, or green), finely chopped

1/4 cup raw almonds

1/4 cup raw cashews

3 tablespoons plain bread crumbs

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

For serving

Your favorite tomato sauce, purchased or homemade

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.

Put the lentils in a large pot with 3 cups water. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the lentils are soft, about 1 hour. Drain the lentils and transfer to a large bowl. Add the onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, nuts, bread crumbs, garlic, egg, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Cover the loaf pan with an inverted rectangular baking dish. Bake in the Sun Oven until lightly browned, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove from Sun Oven and let rest 15 minutes. Leave in pan and slice. Serve with sauce.

Slow Solar Stewed Onions

Stewed Onions

Never let a sunny day go to waste. When nothing else is going on in your Sun Oven whip up a batch of slow cooked onions. They’ll come in handy for all sorts of things: a base for soups, a topping for burgers, or a sauce for pasta, just to name a few.

Solar Stewed Onions

Ingredients

3 onions, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

salt and pepper

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a medium to large pot, toss the onions with the oil. Pour the wine over the onions and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook in Sun Oven until the onions are golden, 2 to 3 hours. Let cool then store in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for up to 4 days.

Solar Roasted Veggies

Roast Veggies

Roast the vegetables during the day then combine with them pasta later for a lovely, solar-cooked dinner.

Sun Roasted Eggplant, Tomato, and Garlic Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

1 eggplant, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved

1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided

salt

1 pound farfalle, rigatoni, or other pasta

1/2 cups fresh basil, chopped

1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line 3 baking racks or rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

Arrange the eggplant slices in a single layer on two of the racks. Brush both sides with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt. Arrange the tomatoes and garlic on the remaining rack. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the oil over the tomatoes and garlic; season with salt. Stack the racks in the Sun Oven and cook until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, top racks will cook faster. Remove vegetables from the Sun Oven and cut the eggplant into pieces. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the pulp into a serving bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, mashing to combine. Stir in the basil and cheese. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the garlic mixture and toss with the eggplant and tomatoes. Add reserved cooking water as needed.

Makes 4 servings.

Eggless Sun Baked “Omelette”

Vegan Frittata

Chickpea flour is a high protein, high fiber, nutritional powerhouse.

Vegan “Omelette”*

Ingredients

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/4 cup masa harina

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tablespoon sesame seed oil

1 cup canned pumpkin

1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, excess water squeezed out

For serving:

Tahini

hot sauce

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line a pie tin with parchment paper, set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, masa harina, curry powder, baking powder, and salt. Add the almond milk and oil; whisk until smooth. In a medium bowl, stir together the pumpkin and the spinach. Using a rubber spatula, fold the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Spread the batter out into the prepared pie plate. Bake the omelette in the Sun Oven until golden and set, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool slightly. Cut into wedges. Drizzle each serving with tahini and hot sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

It’s also gluten free.

Solar Quiche to Go

Quiche Muffins

Make these delightful portable breakfast muffins your own by using your favorite add-ins with the eggs. Any kind of vegetable can be used and the bacon can be replaced with ham or cooked sausage. They keep well in the fridge for up to 4 days and are great for meals on the go. I like to serve them for dinner with a bowl of tomato soup and a salad.

Sunny Savory Quiche Muffins

Ingredients

5 slices cooked bacon, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 package refrigerated biscuit dough (10 biscuits)

6 eggs

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed, excess water squeezed out

salt

Preparation.

Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray the indentations of 10 muffin cups with cooking spray.

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Flatten the biscuits into 5-inch rounds and line the muffin tins. Top the biscuits with silicone baking molds. Start baking the biscuit shells in the Sun Oven while preparing the filling.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the chopped bacon, sautéed onions, cheese, and frozen spinach. Season to taste with salt. Remove the biscuits from the Sun Oven. Remove the silicone molds and carefully spoon the egg filling into the shells. Do not over fill*. Return the muffin pans to the Sun Oven and continue baking until the egg fill is set and the shells are golden brown, 40 minutes to 1 hour.

Set pans on a rack a let cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of each muffin and remove the tins. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Quiche Shells

*Trust me on this, you do not want to clean cooked egg off the bottom of your Sun Oven. If you have too much filling use the empty indentations to make one or two crustless pies.

 

Meatless Monday Pasta Sauce

Lentil Sauce

This easy to prepare vegetarian pasta topping is a good alternative to traditional meat sauce. Unlike most pasta sauces, it tastes better when served over whole wheat pasta than white.

Easy Sun Oven Lentil Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

1 cup dried green lentils, picked over and rinsed

2 1/2 cups water

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional topping

freshly grated Parmesan cheese

chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preparation

Set Sun Oven out to preheat.

In a large pot, combine the lentils and water. Cover and cook in the Sun Oven until the lentils are tender but not falling apart, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove the lentils from the Sun Oven and drain. In the same pot, combine the oil, garlic, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked lentils. Cover and return the pot to the Sun Oven. Continue cooking until heated through and the flavors have blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over whole wheat pasta or brown rice.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

 

Blackberries, Bain or Blessing?

BlackberriesFighting the Briars

For several years we have been fighting with wild blackberry runners growing in our “landscaped bed” of Louisiana Iris and Philodendron. They’d raise their briar covered runners and I’d cut them off. My work did little except keep them pruned. This past winter was an especially cold one. So cold it killed the Philodendron and the Louisiana Iris. With no competition for nutrients, water and sunlight, the blackberries flourished! A few days ago I noticed they were covered in red berries. That got my attention. Figuring I’d have to fight the birds for them, I checked their ripening every few days. Yesterday, I saw they had turned blue-black. They were ready for picking and I was counting my blessings.

Protection from the Briars

My favorite purchase at the Fletcher, NC, Mother Earth News Fair was a pair of Mud Gauntlets. I had originally bought them as defense against the vicious stinging ants we have in Pensacola. Now I had another use for them – retrieving blackberries from the briary blackberry vines.  They worked great, no scratches or snags on my hands and arms. If you are planning to go into wild spaces foraging for berries, be sure to wear leather boots and long trousers.Blackberries

Making Berry Crisps

Soon I had enough berries to do more than get a few seeds in the grooves of my teeth. I could make a berry crisp using a recipe, Individual Solar Oatmeal Berry Crisps, posted by our Solar Chef.

One of the things I really love about solar cooking is you can be creative without fear of making a total flop. I modified Gabrielle’s recipe by using oat flour instead of wheat and substituting chopped pecans for the walnuts. I used a graniteware pan without the lid and baked it in the Sun Oven® at 250ºF for 1.5 hr under partly cloudy skies. We saved a few berries to use as garnish. Try it, you’ll like it. Oh, berry stains on the gloves? No problem, they’re washable.

Blackberries

Photos by: RustyBuggyEnterprises, Inc.

Additional Articles in this month’s issue:

Billie Nicholson, Editor
May 2014

More Savory Solar Vegan Treats

vegan fritters with peas

Yesterday’s vegan fritters were so good and so easy to make that today I whipped up another batch with different add-ins.

This combo came out flatter, looking more like pancakes or cookies, but they were just as tasty.

Vegan fritters will be making frequent appearances around here. On a bright sunny day like today they were fully cooked in under 30 minutes; leaving the Sun Oven available for more solar cooked goodies. Oh, and just so you know – be sure to tell your family these treats are savory no matter how much they may look like cookies.

Vegan Veggie Fritters with Peas

Ingredients

1/2 cup chickpea flour

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup plain, unsweetened almond or soy milk

Read more »

corin