Solar Spicy Molasses Cookies

When baking cookies in the Sun Oven there are three things to keep in mind: adjust the tilt of the Sun Oven before putting the cookies in the cooking chamber, use rimmed baking sheets, and set a timer. Due to the high fat content of cookies they can easily slide off the pans. Getting the leveling tray as flat as possible and a rimmed baking sheet (or the rim of the dehydrating racks) will stop that from happening. The cooking time is short enough that you won’t have to readjust the tilt while they’re baking. The fat content also make cookies one of the few foods that can burn in the Sun Oven. A timer will solve that problem. You don’t need the dehydrating rakes to bake drop cookies but they make it a lot easier.

Sun Oven Molasses Cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

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Solar Breakfast Bars

Now that we live in the L.A. area long commutes are becoming a part of life. What should be a 20 minute trip can take an hour (on a good day) or more. Easy to eat, fun snacks like these oatmeal bars help make sitting in traffic a little more bearable. This recipe is pretty basic. It can be jazzed up with mix-ins such as chocolate chips, chopped nuts, or dried fruit.

Ingredients

3 cups old-fashioned oats

2/3 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/3 cup honey

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 egg, beaten

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Sun Oven Holiday Baking

I can’t remember the last time I baked sugar cookies. I don’t have the patience, let alone the skill, for fancy decoration. Food coloring or decorating sugars are not things I keep on hand, and, at least until now, it was hard to fit very many cookies in the Sun Oven at one time, but after my recent cake calamity I was left with a craving for something sweet. When I saw a sugar cookie baking mix at Trader Joe’s I couldn’t resist.

The dehydrating racks took care of the space issue. The mix comes with frosting and sparkling sugar and, with a yield of only about two dozen, I managed to muster up the patience to frost them. Cookie cutters were not an issue. I pick them up at yard sales or thrift stores, and now  have an extensive collection of them, so it was nice to get a chance to use a few.

Blackout Solar Cookies

We were among the thousands of Los Angeles area residents without power after the massive windstorm Thursday night so I finally got to use my Sun Oven in an emergency situation. What did I make? Cookies, of course. I thought, based on the estimate given to us by the power company, that the outage would be fixed by early evening. If I’d known we’d be without power until the following day I might have rustled together something for dinner instead, but cookies were on my schedule so that’s what I made. We had just enough sunshine to get the job done.

Big Sun Oven Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

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Solar Baked Breadsticks

This batch of breadsticks can be baked in the Sun Oven in one go using the dehydrating racks (or any other method you can come up with to stack three baking sheets). They can be rolled in salt, poppy or sesame seeds, or left plain. They’ll keep for a couple of days if stored in an airtight container and can be refreshed in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving. As usual, I prepare the dough using my bread machine.

Sun Oven Breadsticks

Ingredients

7/8 cup water

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing

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Solar Sweet Potato Quiche

The recipe I used for Wednesday’s pie left me with a quite a bit of extra dough. If I’d left it in the freezer I’m sure it would have wound up pushed to the back and forgotten, so today I put it to good use with some of the other Thanksgiving Day leftovers and make some quiche. After consulting a few different recipes online I decided to wing it. First I baked the crusts (in the Sun Oven, of course) then filled the individual tart pans with a mixture of 4 eggs, about 2/3 a cup of mashed sweet potato, cooked chopped swiss chard, some crumbled cooked bacon, and grated Parmesan cheese. Then back to the Sun Oven to bake until the filling was set. The four pans would fit on the leveling tray, but for easier handling, and better air flow, I used two of the dehydrating racks as pictured below.

 

 

More Solar Dehydrating

Lately I’ve been raiding Mark’s stash of corn chips when I go looking for a snack. They’re about the only thing we ever have in the house that are not sweet and require absolutely no preparation.

That’s the funny thing about my house, it’s always full of food but apart from fresh fruit there’s almost nothing that can just be eaten as is and sometimes I want to eat something now. I was hoping seasoned dehydrated veggies could become a new-found version of chips; a salty snack ready to eat straight from the container, but I think I’m going to have to keep looking. Not that the dehydrated zucchini I made the other day are bad, they just lack the satisfying crunch of chips.

Making them was, however, a good learning experience. I got started early and had the thinly sliced, lightly seasoned zucchini ready to go as soon as the sun hit the back yard. By the last rays of the day they were dehydrated to perfection. I’d seasoned them with garlic powder, dried basil, and salt. The flavor was good, and I did manage to stay away from the bag of chips in the pantry, but I think they’d be better as an ingredient in risottos or soups than on their own. I guess I’ll have to find something else to deal with the mid-afternoon hunger pangs.

Assorted Solar Dried Fruits

I have to admit I’d never even though of dehydrating bananas until I read the instructions that came with the dehydrating racks. I wasn’t even sure what shape I should cut them into; discs or strips. It seemed obvious that discs would dry out faster but I thought strips would make a nice portable snack. I decided to try both. To fill all three racks I also cut up a couple of apples and a pear.

The apples dried the fastest. They were completely dehydrated by the end of the day. As predicted the banana discs dehydrated faster than the strips. The pear took longer than I’d expected. Both the bananas and the pear had to be finished up the next day. The banana discs (and the pear slices for that matter) came out great. I lost my patience with the banana strips. I couldn’t tell if they were dry enough to store safely so I ate them – problem solved.  I’m sure that in the summer months, when there’s more usable sunshine, I’d have been able to finish all the fruit (maybe even the banana strips) in one day.

 

 

Finally They Fit!

I’m sure I’m not the only one that looked at the new dehydrating racks and thought “Could they be used for baking?” The answer is yes. Today I baked a full batch of drop cookies, over three dozen, in two Sun Oven loads. The same as it would have taken to bake them in a conventional oven. The top layer baked slightly faster, but by less than five minutes, pretty much the time it took to take the top layer inside and transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.

Sun Oven Muesli Cookies

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

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Sun Oven Accessories

Over the years that I’ve been using my Global Sun Oven I’ve come up with countless creative ways of stacking all sorts of baking pans to make the most of the space in the cooking chamber. Some attempts were more successful than others; the main issue was always slippage.

In fact, apart from a batch or two of tomatoes per year, I’d pretty much given up on solar food dehydrating. It was just too much hassle to fit enough stuff in the Sun Oven to justify tying up it for a whole day.

So, of course, as soon as I received my set of Sun Dry Dehydrating Racks I had to put them to the test. So what if it was already noon and the only produce I had on hand were three tiny apples. I had a new toy and I wanted to play with in now. Turns out I only had enough fruit for two layers and enough remaining hours of sunlight to get the job half done (I finished up the next day), but I could see right off the bat the slippage was a thing of the past.

The racks fit snuggly on top of each other and leave plenty of room for airflow allowing both layers to dry out at the same rate. The hardest part is keeping the Sun Oven from overheating, get distracted for too long and it will easily reach 200F or more, even with the glass door propped open. It’s a good idea to set a timer and check on it every half hour or so.

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