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.
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.
Photos by: RustyBuggyEnterprises, Inc.
Additional Articles in this month’s issue:
- Mother Earth News Fair - a great preparedness educational opportunity. Look for one near you.
- Be Water Smart provides 12 tips on saving water
- Cheese Production – Made Easy gives step by step instructions for making cheese easily at home
- Creating a Sustainable Garden discusses ways to improve soil health
- An alternative Protein Source – Raising Rabbits gives an overview for raising rabbits for meat. Did you know Californians prefer it to chicken?
- Have you considered Adding a Survival Net to Your Bug-Out Bag? - learn 10 uses
- Our Solar Chef has created Savory Solar Vegan Fritters this month as a great way to eat your veggies
Billie Nicholson, Editor
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
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
Solar roasting carrots brings out their natural sweetness and they couldn’t be easier to prepare.
Just peel, rub with butter or olive oil, spread them out in a baking dish, season with fresh thyme, add salt, cover, and cook in the Sun Oven until soft.
Then remove the cover and continue cooking until any liquid has evaporated and they begin to brown. They go great with grilled meats or fish.
This soup is good with or without the optional bacon. Plus, the bacon isn’t added until the end so everyone can make their own choice.
Have it Your Way Split Pea Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tablespoon dried marjoram
Cooking times for dried beans can be very unpredictable. A lot depends on the age of the bean. A forgotten bag from who know’s when in the back of the cupboard will probably not cook as fast as the one you bought yesterday. That’s one of the reasons I like to precook mine and store them in the fridge or freezer. They keep well, in their own liquid, up to three days if refrigerated or 3 months if frozen. It’s also a good way to take advantage of a sunny day if your Sun Oven isn’t being used for something else. Don’t let the fact that you didn’t plan ahead by soaking them overnight stop you. They’ll need to cook a little longer but will taste just as good. Just follow a few simple steps and you’ll always have some on hand to be enjoyed on their own or in recipes.
1 – Put the beans in a large bowl or pot filled with water and pick out any shriveled or broken beans in addition to any pebbles.
2- Drain the beans in a colander and rinse well.
3 – Put the rinsed beans into a large pot and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch.
4 – Place a lid on the pot and cook in the Sun Oven; adding about 1 teaspoon salt per 1/2 pound of beans when they start to soften. Start checking after about 45 minutes of cooking
5 – Continue cooking until tender.
6 – Drain if serving immediately or store in covered containers in their cooking liquid.
Despite it’s reputation for being a great big freeway, Los Angeles is a fantastic walking city. The hilly neighborhoods are dotted with hidden public staircases that are both fun and challenging to climb. Turn off of a bustling city street, walk a short distance, and you’ll find yourself immersed in nature. You might even spot some wildlife. I’ve seen raccoons, skunks, coyotes, and deer; all within the city limits. Urban hiking is also a good way to make new friends. Just about every weekend there are groups, lead by urban hiking enthusiasts, that attract quite a following. It was on one of these hikes that I casually mentioned my Sun Oven to a fellow walker, and much to my surprise he replied, “I have one of those. I love it. I use it all the time.” Here’s how he solar cooks ribs;
1 rack (about 3 pounds) babyback ribs
the juice from two lemons
1 sprig rosemary
If you’re not a very late riser it probably won’t be practical to serve this in the morning. Luckily, most people seem to really enjoy breakfast foods for dinner every now and then.
Sun Oven Strata
8 ounces French bread, (about 2 cups) cut into 1-inch cubes
8-ounces (2 cups) Cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
This is a sample of the what’s cooking post.
This roast is best when cooked to medium rare. Use a probe thermometer to know exactly when to take it out of the Sun Oven. Use any leftover meat for sandwiches.
Sun Oven Sunday Roast
5 yellow or red bell peppers (or a mixture), ribs and seeds removed and cut into 1-inch strips
2 red onions, cut into 1-inch wedges
3/4 pound new white potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and each cut into 6 slivers
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
These scrumptious onions are delicious when served with an antipasto platter. Keep a close eye on them while they’re baking, if they get too soft they will turn to mush.
Sun Oven Roasted Balsamic Onions
1 pound pearl onions, unpeeled
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar