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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Anytime a recipe calls for sautéing it can be done in the Sun Oven. Just remember to keep an eye on it, sautéed garlic (or anything else) is almost as easy to burn in the Sun Oven as it is stovetop.
Sun Oven Chickpea and Cauliflower Soup
1/2 pound dried chick peas, previously cooked, drained reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
10 ounces cauliflower flowerets, fresh or frozen (thawed)
1 carton or canned (26.5 ounces) chopped tomatoes
There are an infinite number of chicken recipes that are only improved by solar cooking but obtaining crispy skin is a challenge. A challenge I’m still working on. The moist environment and relatively low temperature of the Sun Oven’s cooking chamber lends itself better to slow braising. Not the best cooking method if you want some crunch to your chicken.
After hearing about a new way to prep chicken, or other meats, for roasting on Lynne Rossetto Kasper’s radio show “The Splendid Table” this weekend I had to give it a try. Her guest, Molly Stevens, described a simple method of seasoning the meat with kosher salt and letting it mature in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to (I believe) two days.
With sunny days in the forecast for the rest of the week I got a batch going Tuesday evening. All you have to do is season the chicken with kosher salt, about 1/2 teaspoon per pound. Place it in a baking dish and refrigerate it, uncovered over night or longer. To cook it I let it come to room temperature before putting it on a rack in a baking dish. Then I covered the dish with tin foil and a dark tea towel and put it in a preheated Sun Oven.
After an hour I took a peek. It didn’t look quite done and the skin was still a pale yellow. At this point I decided to let it cook uncovered hoping the skin would brown more. After another 20 minutes in the Sun Oven the result was meat that was moist and delicious and skin that wasn’t soggy but wasn’t exactly crisp either. I think I should have resisted the temptation to uncover the dish. I’ll try it again; hopefully next week’s forecast will be favorable to starting a dish so far in advance. That’s always a risk for the solar chef.
Using a Sun Oven does not mean you need to give up all convenience foods. It’s our busy time of year and I just don’t have the time for a lot of prep work.
Luckily there are good tasting, easy to prepare, healthy boxed mixes on the market that come out great in the Sun Oven. The instructions usually say to bring some water to a boil before adding the dry ingredients. For solar cooking just mix the dry ingredients in a pot with room temperature water, cover and put it in the Sun Oven. The cooking time will be longer.
The lentils I made today took 45 minutes as opposed to the 10 it would have taken to cook them stovetop. Despite the longer cooking time I still find using the Sun Oven more convenient since I can go about my business without the risk of burning anything.
If you have the time many of these mixes can be spruced up with the addition of some freshly chopped vegetables for a more personal touch.