“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.
Check your calendar and make your reservations to attend one or more of these upcoming emergency preparedness training expos. We will be there with lectures and demonstrations using the Sun Oven®. Plan to take one home along with lots of other preparedness ideas.
Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include:
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
3 onions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper
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.
Are you the proud owner of a SUN OVEN®? We hope you are prepared for emergencies when the power to your cooking appliances is interrupted. There are many situations when we may need an alternative to our ovens and cooktops. The SUN OVEN® is an efficient option in disaster situations and in everyday use, too.
So, having purchased one, have you opened the box to examine and prepare it for use? The All American Sun Oven® ships with a
set of pot and pans that are lightweight graniteware that heat up quickly. The baking pans are non-stick. What did you get? Have you washed them and started using them? They can be used on a conventional stove or campfire as well. When you first open the package, set it up outside and preheat some soapy water. Steaming this inside the oven will prepare it for use. Once you’ve prepped the oven, why not go ahead and cook something? Our website is jammed with recipes to use. The three drying racks make wonderful supports with parchment paper to hold cookies while they bake.
Are you planning a trip this summer? Will you be cooking? Take your SUN OVEN® with you. It can be used to keep food cool until you’re ready to cook and works great if you’re camping in a no burn area, where campfires are prohibited because of drought.
Look at using your SUN OVEN® as a challenge. How many times can you use it in a week? Take the time to listen to the videos on our website and become familiar with it’s set up and use. Remember familiarity will save you hours of guesswork during stressful times. With the longer sunlight hours of summer and lots of fresh foods available to cook, save some electricity in your home by cooking with solar energy. SUN OVENS® are not just for emergencies. They can be used every day. What is the most unusual thing you’ve cooked in your oven? Send your week’s list to email@example.com. We look forward to reading your mail.
One of the classes we attended at the Mother Earth News Fair was taught by Gianaclis Caldwell on making quick and simple cheese. We took careful notes and went home to make cottage cheese. We learned the importance of making sure everything is very clean. The longer you plan to cure cheese the more sterile your working conditions need to be. Listeria contamination can a big problem. We assembled a clean steel pan, thermometer, colander and cheese cloth. Ingredients were milk and lemon juice, although you may use any edible acid.
We gently heated 1/2 gallon of milk while stirring until it reached a temperature between 175 -185º F. We removed the heat and added 8 ounces of fresh lemon juice, stirring as the protein clumped together into “curds.” The milk was covered and allowed to cool; then it was strained through several layers of cheese cloth to separate the protein “curds” from the remaining liquid whey. Curds were rinsed in non-chlorinated water, squeezed dry and refrigerated until chilled. Season with salt or add herbs to taste.
We were amazed at the amount of cheese we recovered. As we examined it, we said, “This looks like more ricotta or farmer’s cheese than cottage cheese.” We immediately knew what to do with it – make lasagna! Alternate layers of homemade sauce, noodles and cheese, ending with cheese. Bake at 350º F in any available oven until hot thorough and cheese melts (about 1 hour). Try not to eat it all in one meal.
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
- Creating a Sustainable Garden discusses ways to improve soil health
- Blackberries, Bain or Blessing? describes a way to safely pick wild blackberries, including a recipe for Solar Oatmeal Berry Crisp
- 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
After years of leaving them on the plate I finally found a way to actually eat the boring steamed carrots that many diners and restaurants seem to believe are perfectly acceptable to serve as the vegetable included with the dinner entrees. I mash them up with a fork and mix them in with the potatoes. I’ve done it so many times that I came up with this recipe for homemade carrot-potato mash. And I always serve something green as the vegetable – as it should be.
Solar Roasted Mashed Potatoes and Carrots
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk
Changing Hearts and Minds
Careful research and experience has proven that the challenges of introducing solar cooking in the developing world are far more cultural than they are technical. The GLOBAL SUN OVEN® has been carefully designed to overcome many of the cultural barriers that have limited the success of solar cooking in the past.
While there are a number of cultural challenges that are unique to each people or group, which must be accounted for. The two major obstacles that have limited the success of the wide spread introduction of solar cooking have successfully been over come:
1. In most countries people work while the sun is out and eat their main meal of the day after the sun has set. Food that is cooked in most solar cooking devices must be consumed immediately or it will become cold. The GLOBAL SUN OVEN® is very well insulated, which allows food that is cooked in the afternoon sun to stay warm until it is ready to be consumed later in the evening.
2. In many countries a woman is working from very early in the morning until well after sundown. Many solar cooking devices do not get hot enough requiring the food to be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Women are often far too busy to devote additional time to solar cooking. The time required to cook in a GLOBAL SUN OVEN® is comparable to cooking with a wood or charcoal fire, which makes it easier to gain the acceptance of the women who use it.
(NOTE: Each month, one article will highlight the international efforts of Sun Ovens Internation to benefit developing countries around the globe.)
July, 2011 Every Needful Thing
Even on days when I’m taking a break from cooking I still like to set up my Sun Oven. It comes in handy for all sorts of things. Keeping a pot of coffee warm, heating up a frozen meal for lunch, and making Sun Oven Sun Tea are just a few of the things that come to mind.
Today I used it to roast some garlic.
Roasted garlic has almost as many uses as a Sun Oven. Spread it on bread, use it in soups, mix it with some sour cream for topping baked potatoes.
Just take a head of garlic, remove the excess papery skin, put it in a small, dark pot or metal mug, cover, and pop it in the Sun Oven 30 to 40 minutes. Let it cool then squeeze the garlic out. If you don’t have a small lid use a dark tea towel as a cover. A muffin tin works great if you want to make a big batch.
Anyone who’s ever had Sun Oven roasted chicken will tell you that it’s some of the juiciest chicken they’ve ever tasted. The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender and infused with flavor.
Crisp skin can be a challenge though. Too often you get a little bit of crispy skin on the very top of the breast while the rest of the bird is submersed in the cooking liquid. And nobody likes soggy skin.
Placing a rack on the bottom of the roasting pan will elevate the chicken, or any other kind of roast, just enough to keep it dry. But don’t discard the juice, drizzle a little bit over each serving just before bringing it to the table.
I read somewhere that meat loaf is one of America’s twelve most popular foods.
Cooking it in the Sun Oven is a good way to ensure it maintains its high ranking.
Given that it is so popular I’m sure most of you have your own favorite recipe.
To adapt yours for solar cooking you’ll only need to find a way to cover it. You could always go the aluminum foil and tea towel route, but I prefer to use an oval roasting pan. Mine is 14 inches long and just fits in the cooking chamber by placing it on the leveling tray on a diagonal.
It’s big enough to hold a standard bread pan with room for potatoes around the sides. The meat loaf comes out nicely browned and any juices that might overflow will be caught in the roasting pan.
For a larger loaf I line the roasting pan with foil and bake it without the bread pan. The foil makes it easy to lift the meat loaf out and the pan keeps the juices out of the Sun Oven’s cooking chamber. On a final note, my two favorite meat loaf recipes can be found here and here.