Monday, November 30

Saving Energy With Mainstream Solar Cooking

Mainstream Solar Cooking Means Saving Energy
Mainstream solar cooks take advantage of the full spectrum of cooking appliances -- without guilt. No one is going to say that they aren't interested in saving the earth's fossil fuels (that's an assumption, I know; but, I feel pretty safe here) or in reducing their own energy bills because they are -- they're just not fanatics about it.  The chart on the left was compiled by a group of youngsters calling themselves Carbon Kids who have been actively involved in finding ways to reduce consumption of fossil fuels in their world and for the future. This link Residential Electricity Usage Increase Since 1983 in US  describes all the wonderful work that they do. Mainstream solar cooks incorporate the green practice of solar cooking into their own lifestyles.

It's all based on what you want for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.The only difference is that, if your recipe calls for oven time, the mainstream solar cook will also check to see if there's enough sun to take advantage of using her solar oven.  And, sometimes, solar cooking has to be combined with the conventional oven! The weather channel got it wrong and your dealing with dinner and cloud cover. It happens. No guilt.

Small Appliances Are Solar Cook's Friends
In spite of the many people who tell you they don't cook, The Residential Energy Consumption Survey done by the US Energy Information Administration found that, if there are

Saturday, November 21

Adaptation of Sous Vide Steak - Solar Style

Sous Vide Cooking is a Process
 I love the sous vide process of cooking meats. It's so handy to have steaks and chicken at the almost ready stage to count on when last-minute company shows up or you just feel like a tasty steak without the mess. What I don't love is the current cost of preparing sous vide meals in my home. If you fixed absolutely everything sous vide, maybe, just maybe, the approximate $1,000 price to bring it all together would be worth it; but, for now, restaurants will have to carry the expense. Or, maybe not . . .

Advantages of Sous Vide Cooking
For those of you who have stayed on page, Sous Vide is a French term, meaning 'under vacuum.'  The food is sealed in a polymer pouch and then slow-cooked in a water bath at a low temperature precisely controlled (for example, beef at 131-degrees F.) by a Thermal Circulator.  It was developed by French chef Georges Pralus in the mid-1970s. Pralus found that by cooking foie gras sous vide, he was able to achieve a much higher yield and improved texture.

The advantages of sous vide cooking make it well worth the time and effort.  Heated to an exact core temperature, food cannot be overcooked. Flavor, fat, and nutrients are retained in the vacuum pouch. Using less fat and oil means eating healthier meals. And you can leave the food pouch in the cooking bath until you are ready to sear and serve it. Recipes can be repeated with consistent results. Food texture quality is

Monday, November 16

Apology for Photo of Solar Cooked November Harvest Meal

Solar Cooked Meal Delicious -- Picture, Well, Uh-Oh!

Please let me apologize for my great November harvest solar cooked meal picture. OMG, looks like the -- well, never mind. LOL. To spin a phrase, you should never take a picture of food (or, go shopping) while you're still hungry. Everything looks good -- until you post it! Sorry, folks, will work much harder at photo prep before I shoot.
BUT, the food was delicious and that's what's important.  Just unfortunate that the shape of both the steak and the cabbage boat were roughly the same. Didn't help that the Swiss Chard brought the bright green of the cabbage down to neutral, either.

Sunday, November 15

Solar Cooked Dinner from mid-November Harvest

Mid-November Harvest Makes Great Solar Cooked Dinner           

It's mid-November here in North Carolina and, for the first time in three days, we had sun. It was definitely a solar cooking day. We've had some pretty warm days this month, so I strolled out to the garden to see what might be hanging on to inspire our evening meal.  Well, you can see the bounty! In the center box is only part of a bag of volunteer tomatoes I harvested that grew out of the compost heap. Clockwise, you can see Ruby Chard, 4 different peppers (sweet banana, sweet orange, hot yellow and green), spring (yes, spring) onions, chives, and Nantes carrots. 

Herbs were sweet basil, stevia, sage, and carrot tops. My mind was going through all the veggies I had put up over the summer to see what could be used to complete the meal. Zounds! Zucchini and eggplant smiled back at me from the freezer and dinner was all but complete.  For my protein, I decided to solar cook the eye round steak that I had previously vacuum-packed and frozen using a sous vide adaptation for solar cooking.

Solar Cooking Sous Vide Steaks is Easy in the Solar Oven

Whenever I buy meat and plan to vacuum-pack for my solar cooking adaptation of sous vide cooking, I buy the larger weights and quantities, then clean and divide the portions at home.  Getting meats evenly proportioned is important for the best sous vide cooking and the smaller cut-away pieces are set aside for

Monday, November 9

Solar Cooking - Are Mainstream Chefs Different?

Mainstream Cooking is Inside

For the purposes of this Blog, mainstream cooking refers to those home cooking enthusiasts whose idea of cooking outside means grilling, regardless of fuel used. Solar cooking is something from a childhood memory of summer camp or a school experiment. The idea of solar cooking the dinner is just not a part of their current scene.

Mainstream cooking is generally done using conventional/microwave ovens, pressure cookers, slow cookers, rice cookers, counter grills -- you're getting the idea -- any appliance, large or small, that can be used indoors. We not only become familiar with cooking methods that require specific cookware and accessories, we don't mind paying for them because we enjoy the end product so much.

Outdoor grills have become very sophisticated and there are some cooks that use them for almost all their cooking needs from early March through mid-November.  They enjoy the taste and, especially in the summer
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