Tomorrow, at least in those countries where the date written in the month/day format (3.14), is known as “Pi Day”. What better way to mark the day than a solar baked pie? My favorite is blueberry, but any solar baked pie is the perfect way to honor the day. Get out your favorite recipe, set up your Sun Ovens, and get solar baking.
“How do you know when it’s done?” That’s one of the most frequent questions I get from novice Sun Oven users. A blank stare is the most common reaction to my usual answers : “When condensation builds up on the glass door.” “When in doubt I leave it in a little longer; it’s almost impossible to overcook most things.” or “I just kind of know.” However, sometimes you really need to know what’s going on inside the pot. And that’s exactly what a probe thermometer allows you to do. I wouldn’t even think of making Sun Oven roast beef, which I like rare, without one. I also use it for poultry, and especially turkey, to make sure it has cooked to a safe temperature.
Simple Solar Roast Beef
4- to 6-pound beef eye round roast
Let meat stand at cool room temperature for 45 minutes before roasting.
Set Sun Oven out to preheat.
Set roast, fat side up on a metal rack in a lidded roasting pan and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Insert the probe into the center of the meat. Add 1/4 cup water to bottom of roasting pan, cover and place in the Sun Oven. Cook until the thermometer reads 120ºF. Let roast stand, covered, 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.
Serve this with steamed vegetables and boiled potatoes for a delicious, light dinner.
Sun Oven Salmon Pie
For the Pie:
2 cans (7 1/2-ounce) red sockeye salmon, drained, skin removed
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
For the Sauce:
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together the salmon, bread crumbs, onion, egg, milk, lemon juice, parsley, salt, and pepper until well combined. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil and bake in the Sun Oven until firm, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Let rest in the pan five minutes. Run a knife around the edges and release the side.
Prepare the sauce while the pie is baking.
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, and pepper. Cook stirring constantly, until the flour is lightly toasted, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Continue cooking and stirring until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in the dill. Serve sauce over the salmon.
Pair this simple side dish with chicken or fish. It goes especially well with Chicken with Two Lemons.
Lemony Sun Baked Rice
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 lemon, juice and grated zest, divided
1 cup dry white rice, preferably arborio
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt to taste
Set Sun Oven out to preheat.
Pour the broth into a stackable pot, cover, and set it in the Sun Oven to heat, about 20 minutes. In a second stackable pot, combine the butter, lemon juice, and rice. Stack the second pot over the broth and cook until rice is lightly toasted, about 10 minutes. Carefully pour the hot broth into the rice, stir well, cover, and continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the rice from the Sun Oven. Stir in the cheese, parsley, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt.
Makes 4 servings.
Serve these over spaghetti with your favorite tomato sauce or use them in meatless ball sandwiches. Double the recipe and freeze half (before baking) for future use.
Mini Lentil Balls
(adapted for the Sun Oven from The Meatball Shop)
1 cup dry lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 t0 1/2 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts
Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Spray two mini-muffin pans with cooking spray, set aside.
Put the lentils in a pot with enough water to cover them by an inch (use very hot water for faster cooking) cover and cook in the Sun Oven until soft but not mushy, 35 to 45 minutes. Drain and let cool. Leave the Sun Oven out.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, and salt. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue cooking for about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and the all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and let cool. When the vegetables are cool add the lentils followed by the egg, cheese, 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts. If the mixture is too moist add more bread crumbs as needed. Use your hands to mix until all the ingredients are well combined. Refrigerate the mixture for 25 minutes.
Roll the mixture into balls and place them in the prepared mini-muffin pans. Use a rack to separate the two pans and stack them in the Sun Oven. Bake until firm, about 45 minutes. Let rest in pans before serving.
Old habits can be hard to break.
After I’d had my Sun Oven for a few months I realized that I wasn’t using it as much as I could. I’d find myself serving my conventionally prepared dinner and thinking, “I could have made this in the Sun Oven”. I needed to retrain myself. That’s when, weather permitting, I started setting up the Sun Oven first thing in the morning; even on days when I had no idea what I’d be cooking. I could see the oven from my kitchen window and that visual cue was enough to remind me to use it.
With my oven always ready to go I can take advantage of deals like the one I found today at my local supermarket. This pre-cut beet, sweet potato, and butternut squash combo was %70 percent off. For less than a dollar, a little sunshine, a drizzle of olive oil, and zero peeling or chopping I had a colorful, solar cooked side dish to go with our lunch.
Applesauce is often used to lighten up cookie recipes. This one uses a grated apple instead. I like the resulting texture and I’m more likely to have an apple on hand than a jar of applesauce.
(adapted for the Sun Oven from Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook)
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 apple, peeled, cored, and grated
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Set Sun Oven out to preheat. Line 2 baking racks or rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Stir in the oats.
In a separate large bowl, use and electric mixer on medium speed to beat together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Beat in the apple, egg, and vanilla until well combined. On low speed, gradually beat in the oat mixture until blended. Stir in the cranberries.
Drop half of the dough by tablespoonfuls, about 1 inch apart on the prepared baking racks, about 6 cookies per rack. Use the back of a spoon to slightly flatten each cookie. Stack the baking racks in the Sun Oven and bake until lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Top rack will bake slightly faster. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.
You’ll need to wait until a friend gives you some starter to make this sweet bread. That same friend will give you a copy of the recipe with instructions on how to feed the starter for 10 days. And rest assured, the bread comes out great when baked in the Sun Oven.
Amish Friendship Bread
Do not use any metal spoons or bowls. Do not refrigerate the bag.
Day 1 – Do nothing. This is the day you receive the stater, the bag is dated
Day 2 – Mash the bag – squeeze several times. Let the air out of the bag.
Day 3 – Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 4 – Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 5 – Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 6 – Add to the contents of the bag 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup milk. Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 7 – Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 8 – Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 9 – Mash the bag. Let air out of bag.
Day 10 – Do the following:
1 – Pour the contents of the bag into a large non metal bowl. Use a wood or plastic spoon to mix in 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups milk.
2 – Label 4 0ne-gallon ziplock bags with the date. Give the bags along with a copy of these instructions to 4 friends.
3 – To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 large box (or two small) instant vanilla pudding (other flavors are o.k. I used butterscotch)
Divide the batter evenly into two well greased loaf pans. Bake in the preheated Sun Oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 1/2 hours.
Remember: Do not refrigerate the starter. Do not use metal spoons, whisks or bowls. If air form in the bag, let it out.
This is a slow cooker classic that I’ve adapted for the Sun Oven. In the slow cooker the jars need to be submerged to ensure even cooking, but even cooking is what the Sun Oven is all about so I didn’t worry about finding a pot big enough pot to do so. In fact, next time I might even try with no water at all. It works for hard boiled eggs, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work for this. However, in the meantime I have three jars of dulce de leche on my hands so it might be a while.
Sun Oven Dulce de Leche
2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
Set Sun Oven out to preheat.
Divide the milk evenly among 3 1/2 pint mason jars. Put the lids on the jars and close tightly. Place the jars in a large pot. Add enough hot water to reach the rims, it is not necessary to submerge the jars. Place a lid on the pot and transfer to the Sun Oven. Cook until the milk is golden brown and thick, about 6 hours. Remove the jars from the water and let cool. Refrigerate at least two hours before using; it will continue to thicken as it cools. Store jars in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.
Todd Sepulveda, minister and educator, has created an e-book, “Education After the Collapse” available as a free download at EdThatMatters which informs us that the education community rarely thinks about education after a disaster. “We have seen examples of this across the country. Schools pride themselves with the coordination of conducting one fire-drill a month, but what is the plan in case of a “big one?” Who will be responsible for teaching our children? Will this be on anyone’s mind?” Todd asks.
If you and your family survive a disaster that takes away government provided services, the responsibility for education of the younger generations will fall on you. Not an educator? Never fear. Common sense will kick in here. There are three techniques for learning. Some people learn by listening, others by seeing demonstrations and still others by doing. In a collapse situation, to determine how best to work with your children, you will need to know how they learn. This will take some observation and experiments.
Do you actually perform what you were formally educated to do on a daily basis? Probably not. So what is the most important part of education? Learning to think critically. Problem solving techniques often involve taking knowledge gained in one area and applying it to another. Flexibility in learning will be a critical factor.
There are three basic parts to all education: reading, math and science. Reading is the most important. Once you learn to read, you can learn anything. Do you remember the slow process you went through? Phonics is the basis for learning to read. Letter recognition, sounds and image association all fit together. There is a complete process building on these base letters, advancing to sight words and then on to putting words together to make sentences.
Math starts with basic arithmetic of adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. From there it advances to measurements and on to problem solving. Todd takes you through the steps of problem solving using the Window Pane technique. If you think about it, this simple approach for problem solving can be applied to all kinds of life challenges. We will all need to return to knowledge base strategies like this to overcome problems in a societal breakdown.
In a collapse scenario, science will be your friend. The knowledge of which plants are safe to eat, which animals should be hunted for the most nutrition, gardening, all come under science. Moon phases [link] and cloud identification to recognize upcoming weather conditions are basics of survival, too. Do not wait to download this ebook. It is filled with explanations and even flash cards you can use. Here’s what another expert in the survival arena said about this book:
In Education After the Collapse, you will be reminded that different children – and people for that matter – have different capacities and styles of learning. That said, within the scope of those differences, teaching children to solve problems and think critically is probably the most important lesson of all……But even more important, if you care about our world and you care about society, you will want to read the rest of Education After the Collapse. And after reading it? You just might – like me – want to stock up on some textbooks, paper, writing materials and flash cards so that you will have them for the children of the unprepared – if and when the time comes.
Gaye @ www.backdoorsurvival.com
Billie Nicholson, Editor