Posts tagged recipe

Solar Cooking Roundup: Two New Recipes

As mentioned previously, I haven’t been getting out the oven as often lately, as it’s been unseasonably cool and cloudy here. But, as if magically anticipating that summer was right around the corner, a few days back the thermometer jumped about 30 degrees. Yikes, it is triple digit hot!

So, of course the first thing I did was pull out the box cooker. After a yum but “haven’t I tried this before?” few meals of roasted red sweet peppers with cheese, it was time to do a little culinary exploration. So this past weekend, I fired up the “grill” and made two new recipes.

First up:

Banana Nectarine “Pie”

3 bananas, roughly broken into slices
1 nectarine, chopped
2 T flax seeds (for nutrients and “crunch”)
1/8 cup Sunny Delight (next time I’ll skip this)
1/4 cup honey graham cereal

To make, mix all ingredients except graham cereal into pan. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, or until the bananas smell super sweet and mash easily. The flax seeds will swell to a larger size, too, so you know they will not be too hard. Bring out of the sun and mash the bananas with a fork, stirring to mix everything well. Allow to thicken for about ten minutes. During that time, crumble graham cereal into the bottom of ramekins/ cups and crumble more for the tops. Spoon mix into each cup and top with more crumbled graham cereal.

This recipe turned out well taste-wise. Next time I might skip the Sunny D (there was a lot of natural liquid in the mix after cooking) and add a little cinnamon before cooking, but it was also good as is. The only disconcerting part was that the bananas looked kind of brown in the pot, but covering the top with graham solved that aesthetic dilemma. Easily makes enough for two people.

Today, I tried a different take on my pepper lunch:

Chili and Celery with Mango

2 large green Anaheim Chili peppers
2 long stalks celery
1 sweet red pepper
Annie’s Naturals Organic Balsamic Vinaigrette Marinade
1 large mango

To make, cut and deseed the chilis and sweet pepper into pinky finger size strips, and chop the two stalks of celery. Pour a little marinade over the mixed veggies in the pan, and put in the sun for about an hour. At that point, I checked the progress, added a bit more marinade, gave everything a good shake to cover, and returned the pan to the oven for another 1/2 hour. Bring everything inside, add the mango (chopped) to the mix and stir together. Serve immediately.

Yum. Of all the dishes I’ve made so far, this was my favorite. At first, I was nervous about adding the mango to what smelled like a very hearty mix, but it worked perfectly, giving everything a cool taste even on this scorcher of a day. And it needed no seasoning either, though I’d imagine it would be good with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt sprinkled on top. This recipe will make it into the cookbook. Makes enough to feed one VERY well, or two for a light lunch or appetizer.

And here’s the finished result:


Now for a nap to work off all that gourmet eating! =)

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Today’s Menu? Egg Jello

Ahhhh. I’m finally back on my laptop, after three weeks of it acting like a teenager going through puberty. First, the wireless card broke after a week of intermittently kicking me off. So, I freecycled for another (if you don’t Freecycle, read my previous post) and received two. I tell you this entire story basically to show how even in difficult situations Freecycle can brighten your day and your esteem of others. Lovely. But no, that wasn’t good enough for the computer, which promptly sent a spark to the power cord and disabled that about ten seconds after I obtained the driver for the card. Another week and countless trips to the library since, I’m happy to be back at the helm.

Another reason I tell you all this is that over the three week period, I had a lot of time to think about the importance of technology in my life. If there’s an electrical equivalent to a nasty Coffee Bean habit, I have acquired it. Sure, if all the major cities were wiped out tomorrow, and there was no grid, I’d manage. And you won’t see me typing away on some gadget while on vacation either. But most of the time, I missed being on the box, enough so to use my friends’ computers at any opportunity (mostly to post on this blog!), and to actually use my little PDA to surf the web or (horrors!) as a notepad instead of as an expensive solitaire game. What can’t you live without? Do you have a backup plan? Do you really need it?

You see, I kept very busy without my computer, managing to finish several of the books that have been collecting dust lately, cook several great meals, not to mention making the new cooker (and scrounging for its materials!), and taking a little more time to smell the roses growing in my neighborhood. So sweet. Not that you’re probably too interested in what I did, but it goes to show that the greatest thing you might dislike is the IDEA of change should your own situation receive what Hank Williams Jr. so aptly called an “attitude adjustment”.

Now, I promised you egg jello, and egg jello you will get. Yesterday, being 100 degrees with not a cloud in the sky, was a beautiful day for cooking. I decided to break out the ingredient that foiled my cooking skills on the windshield shade oven… eggs. The books I’ve been reading make them sound so easy, but if you remember my post, they came came out lumpy, liquid, and VERY messy. Will it be a repeat, or a redemption?

Not wanting to spend too much time on the ingredients, in case things went wrong, I simply broke up six eggs, beat them in the round baking pan, dumped in a small can of sweet corn, added a little milk, and shook a little Chef’s Essence on the top. Out in the sun at 10:45, and I settled in to watch Babe. Midway through the film, I went out to check on things. The top and bottom lids had glued themselves together with the eggs, and when I pried them open, everything was still liquid. I’m seeing visions of last time in my head, so I doubtfully put everything back in, and went to finish the film.

At film’s end, heartily cheered by the cute story, I went out again. And… it was solid! No way! I took it inside for a taste test. It was nice and light, and had the consistency of… jello. Wierd. At least, that was my initial reaction, but after a bite or two, I got used to the texture and liked it quite a bit. I think it would be better to think of this as custard than as a breakfast food. My mistake. Next time, I’ll skip the spices and make a sweet pudding instead, which is pretty much how it came out anyway. Highly recommended, and here are the pics. I’m finally back on my feet with this cooking thing, and the future possibilities are dancing around on the old noggin. Until tomorrow~

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Kitchen Fun – Make Dandilion Wine

A little natural recipe for you… it’s not solar (unless you have ALL DAY to let the stuff get to a boil, and if you DO adapt this for solar, please share your experience!) but it’s a defacto local specialty, and looks pretty easy to make. Rather than redirect you, I’ll reprint the recipe here. Hey, you KNOW you know where some dandilions are… what are you waiting for?

How to Make Dandelion Wine

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Dandelions are in season during the summer and spring months, but they lend themselves deliciously to a beverage you can serve year-round. April and May are the best months to harvest dandelions for this purpose in the Northern hemisphere.[1] Try it out and taste it for yourself.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (7 g) dried yeast
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) warm water
  • 2 quarts (230 g) whole dandelion flowers
    • Using 2 quarts+ of just the petals can make for a less bitter wine.[2]
  • 4 quarts water (3.785 L)
  • 1 cup (240 mL) orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) fresh lime juice
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 g) powdered ginger
  • 3 tablespoons (18 g) coarsely chopped orange zest; avoid any white pith
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) coarsely chopped lemon zest; avoid any white pith
  • 6 cups (1200 g) sugar

Steps

  1. Wash and clean the blossoms well. Think of it as a fruit or vegetable; you don’t want bugs or dirt in your food. Remove all green material.
  2. Soak flowers for two days.
  3. Place the blossoms in the four quarts of water, along with the lime, orange, and lemon juices.
  4. Stir in the ginger, cloves, orange peels, lemon peels, and sugar. Bring the mix to a boil for an hour.
  5. Strain through filter papers (coffee filters are recommended). Let the wine cool down for a while.
  6. Stir the yeast in while the wine is still warm, but below 110 degrees F.
  7. Leave it alone and let it stand overnight.
  8. Pour it into bottles, poke a few holes in a balloon and place over the tops of the bottles to create an airlock, and store them in a dark place for at least three weeks so that it can ferment.
  9. Optional: Rack the wine several times. Racking means waiting until the wine clears, then pouring the liquid into another container, leaving the lees (sediment) at the bottom of the first container.[3]
  10. After that time, cork and store the bottles in a cool place. Allow the wine time to age. Most recipes recommend waiting at least six months, preferably a year.[4]

Tips

  • Pasteurization uses sixty-five degrees Celsius for half an hour to avoid changing character.
  • Pick the flowers right before starting so they’re fresh. Midday is when they are fully open.[5] Alternatively, you can freeze the flowers immediately after harvesting, then pull off the petals right before preparing the wine.[6]
  • It may take more than three weeks for your wine to ferment if your home is cold. Try putting the bottles on top of your water heater or behind your refrigerator for faster fermentation. Be aware though, fermentation at higher temperatures probably won’t change the taste of the wine, but can lead to higher levels of fusile alcohols, which can cause hangovers.
  • This recipe will produce a light wine that mixes well with tossed salad or baked fish. To add body or strength, add a sweetener,raisins, dates, figs, apricots, or rhubarb.[7]

Warnings

  • Avoid using dandelions that may have been chemically treated. Also, try to stay away from dandelions that have been graced by the presence of dogs, or that grow within 50 feet of a road.

Things You’ll Need

  • Coffee filters or straining paper
  • Empty, clean wine bottles
  • Large beverage container to strain liquid into
  • A large pot you can boil the dandelion mixture in
  • A place to store the fermenting wine

Sources and Citations

  1. http://winemakermag.com/feature/196.html
  2. http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/dandelio.asp
  3. http://www.thecompostbin.com/2006/05/how-to-make-dandelion-wine.html
  4. http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/dandelio.asp
  5. http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/dandelio.asp
  6. http://www.thecompostbin.com/2006/05/how-to-make-dandelion-wine.html
  7. http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/dandelio.asp

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Dandelion Wine. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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LESSON LEARNED: How not to Cook Eggs

Here’s the recipe:
1/4 cup milk
4 eggs
Sesame seeds
3 handfuls shredded cheddar
2 oz. sliced mushrooms
3 oz. canned sweet corn

All were mixed by hand.

Here’s what it SHOULD have looked like: Mushroom Omelet

At 1:05 the eggs went in. At 1:25, the temperature was 140° F in the bag outside the pot. I rotated the cooker at that time and went back inside, clipping back an edge that seemed to be blocking sunshine. At the 1 hour mark, temperature was 150°, but the entire rack had slipped off one end, spilling (more!) of the contents into the bag. It was kind of a steamy mess, and foggy with condensation – I’ll have to do something about the slippage problem of both the rack and pot. At 2:25, I checked again and the spilled “juice” in the bag was still quite liquid. Since I’m still not sure what the relationship is between the bag and pot (after all, the pots seemed VERY hot, even though temperature registered around 130° on the thermometer), I decided to take a peek. Not solid, but not too runny anymore either. Okay, that’s good, at least. Reading the cookbooks, egg dishes seem to range somewhere between 2-4 hours. Hoping for two!

Yuck! When I went out at 2:50, the pot had toppled again, thanks to deceptively strong wind. Clearly this is not going to work as is. I elected to dump the messy stuff out of the bag, even though it meant losing heat. There is still something solidifying in the bottom of the pan, even after all those mishaps. Without the liquid I’m not sure how that will turn out, but let’s just keep our fingers crossed for now. Thermometer was down to 110° before emptying, so I can’t have lost TOO much heat! Time to check again (3:25)….

Another total blow-over. Now there are actual scrambled eggs curds in the pot, I guess from all the action the oven is getting! This construction issue must get fixed, pronto. Rotated the cooker again, and blew some more air into the bag. It’s still pretty messy in there, but it smells good, like grilled mushrooms. Should I declare this a failure? Did I mention that I’m stubborn when it comes to success? Well, I should have. Another 20 minutes it is!

And… Well, it didn’t blow over this time. But the food and the temperature still look the same! Everything is at 110°. Not too hot, and I’m wondering if this dish will even be SAFE to eat, given the eggs. There is still runny juice in the pot, though not much. Where did my 175° go from the other day? At 4 pm, it probably won’t happen today.

Thumbs Down

I should go ahead and tell you what I’ve told every prospective boyfriend, roommate, and employer in life: I don’t do dishes. And yet here I am with my hands in a goopy pot of water, scrubbing half-cooked eggs off of every component of the oven. Guess I’ve been praying to the wrong cooking gods. No, this clean-up was not easy, breezy, or beautiful like the grilled cheese. Oh yeah, the experiment was officially declared a “learning experience” at 4:05, three hours after the start. Instead of omelet, I got… yummy smelling goop. It did at least LOOK like eggs. In the interest of you enjoying your dinner tonight I’ll spare you pictures. Surely not edible, except by my cat, who didn’t seem to mind. As romantic as getting salmonella poisoning for “the solar cause” sounds… wait, that doesn’t even SOUND romantic. Hmmm. Back to the drawing board.

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BOOK REVIEW: Cooking With Sunshine

The Complete Guide to Solar Cuisine with 150 Easy Sun-Cooked Recipes

Here’s a great read for someone getting started in the world of solar cooking. Not only do Lorraine Anderson and Rick Palkovic clearly explain the reasons for integrating a solar oven into your life, they also back them up with a variety of yummy-looking recipes that are tailor made for solar cooking. And there are no messy equipment lists getting in between you and your solar cooking dreams. You can purchase a copy through Amazon here.

Here’s a list, taken from the book, about what foods are best and worst suited to solar oven cooking:

Easy-to-Cook Foods (1-2 hours)

Fish, chicken, egg-and-cheese dishes, white rice, fruit, above-ground vegetables.

Moderately Hard-to-Cook Foods (3-4 hours)

Bread, brown rice, root vegetables, lentils, most meat.

Hardest-to-Cook Foods (5-8 hours)

Large roasts, soups and stews, most dried beans.

The first half of the book is a summary of important facts about solar cooking, including the history, the areas of the earth best-suited, and how to construct a few solar cookers, all under $15 for supplies. They also include great “cheats”, or ways that you can make everything work with the items you already own. Then come the recipes. They’re divided by ease-of-cooking. A sample”starter” recipe:

Applesauce

6 Golden Delicious Apples, peeled quartered and cored
Juice of one lemon
Dash of Cinnamon (optional)

  • Place the apples in a dark pot, sprinkle the juice over the apples, and cover the pot tightly.
  • Bake in solar sooker for 3 to 4 hours, until apples can be easily pierced with a fork.
  • Mash apples with a hand masher or in a blender on low, adding cinnamon if you want.

Does it get any easier than that? Now that you’ve whet your cooking appetite, how about this artichoke frittata? It’s definitely on my “to try” list!

Artichoke Frittata

yield: 4 servings

6 eggs
6 saltines
2 (6-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 bunches scallions, chopped
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
dash hot pepper sauce
dash Worcestershire sauce

  • lightly oil a dark 8-inch-square or 9-inch-round baking pan.
  • beat the eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Crumble the saltines into the eggs and beat again.
  • add the artichoke hearts to the eggs. Stir in the scallions, garlic, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Pour into the prepared baking pan, cover, and bake for 2 to 3 hours in the solar cooker, until firm.

Mouth watering yet? This is just the beginning. Get this book and get cooking today!

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