SUCCESS: Cooking Bell Peppers

Hello again from the kitchen. Since I stay in a kind of industrial area, it is easiest to cook undisturbed on weekends. So, it’s Sunday and it’s also partly cloudy. Thought it would rain this morning, but it never did get around to it, and by 1 pm, the clouds were scattering.

At that same time, I assembled the cooker and set chopped sweet peppers out to steam. Back to basics for now. This time, I’m using two round black baking pans clipped together with magnetic memo clips. And in the bottom of the now upturned colander is a stone. Overall things seem much sturdier. But the sun is still deciding on whether to join the party. It keeps coming and going, which can’t provide that much heat.

The sun is officially out at 1:30. It’s windy, but nothing is blowing over today. Finally. The temperature in the bag is right below 100°, and it’s a “chilly in the shadows” day. That’s after more than 1/2 hour out. Obviously clouds are not going to be my usual dream-laden friends when it comes to solar cooking.

Solar Cooking for Home and Camp

While we wait, I might as well review the book I just finished… Solar Cooking for Home and Camp by Linda Frederick Yaffe. This book is much less than some about how to construct a cooker or why you should try one (although both are discussed). It assumes you’re ready to get cooking but have no idea what to prepare. Sounds like me! The recipes are organized by groups as in a regular cookbook, and most sections contain at least one recipe with “easy” in the title. Most require few ingredients and little preparation. And they sound good, too, though there aren’t any pictures. Here’s a sample recipe that sounds delicious:

Pecan Salmon

1. Place in an oiled pot:
4 Salmon Steaks, about 1 1/2 inches thick
2. Mix together in a small bowl:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3. Spread the mixture evenly over the steaks.
4. Cover and place in the solar cooker for 2 hours, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Simple and easy to understand, yet gourmet. It doesn’t take more than an hour to get through this book, short of stopping to MAKE things along the way. Speaking of hours, let’s check in on the peppers one hour on the stove.

Right as I wrote that, the whole oven crashed off its ledge, so I got a chance to see what state things were in. As usual things SMELL great. The peppers are soft, but still have a tart edge. There is a tear in the oven bag so I taped it with aluminum foil tape. The magnets fell out of the clips, and the plates were hot. Everything reassembled, I moved to a wider ledge that allows for a bit of rotation leeway and set back up. It’s now 2:20 as I write this.

Bell Peppers

At the 2:45 mark, it was time to head out for the afternoon so I checked again. Everything was done to perfection! Some positive reinforcement at last, after the debacle the other day. Things smelled, looked, and tasted great. The pot was hot but not untouchable. Mental note… the less water, the faster things heat up. Veggies are good for this, as proved by my partially cloudy day results. Perhaps one of these days I’ll work up to main dishes. For now, bon appetit!

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