Sunday, December 26

It's a White Christmas -- Time to Read and Enjoy Each Other!

Look what happened, last night! Thought we were going to be by-passed, but Mother Nature had a different idea! Thank goodness, we're all comfy and warm inside, with new books to read, lots of holiday goodies, and a cozy fire.

Christmas Eve was at my daughter's. I brought the leftover quenelles transformed into this lovely pate, surrounded by fresh kale, and cold baked potatoes with my own aiello sauce and smoked paprika garni. Beef heart wasn't mentioned until AFTER the yum-yums!
If you recall, during the peach and plum harvests, I managed to make a little brandy to be included in my holiday baking. Well, it turned out very well, indeed, and so I went even a step further and made some Bristol Cream out of a combination of the peach and plum brandies. Then, of course, into some Brandy Balls, and fruitcake. So, I'll be able to keep the insides warm, too!
Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21

Beef Heart Quenelles, Mushroom Sauce & European Soldier Beans - Solar Baked

Beef Heart Quenelles with Mushroom Sauce & European Soldier Beans
A few weeks ago, I applied to participate in the Iron Foodie Contest offered by Foodie Blogroll and Marx Foods where they had 25 contestants + 25 recipes + 3 ingredients chosen by Marx Foods. Well, I didn't win. 8-(   BUT, Marx Foods offered me a consolation prize of five (5) random ingredients and an offer to create an original recipe and submit it for possible sharing on their blog and winning a consolation prize of more exotic ingredients! I couldn't resist. But, it had to be submitted by December 22nd. Here's my surprise ingredients -- and I've managed to use them all!

Aji Panca Chilies, Black Trumpet Mushrooms,
Saffron Threads, Granulated Honey, and
European Soldier Beans!
This was definitely going to be interesting and a multiple process meal. Because Marx Foods is a great place for exotic foods and spices, I decided on beef heart for my meat protein -- just because they don't offer it!

Guest Blog on Grow With Stacy

Is Entrepreneurship for You? This is my guest posting article about entrepreneurship on the Grow With Stacy blog today! Stacy knows her stuff and is a great source for personal development, blogging, and entrepreneurial needs! A quick peek will tell you that she offers so much more, so I hope you'll pop on over and give her site some attention and comment love! I know it's the holidays, but you gotta sit, sometime!

Friday, December 17

12-Bean Pork Chili

12-Bean Chili with Pork Loin on Seasoned Rice
Now, before you say think anything about this picture, bear in mind that I seem to have some kind of fascination with eggs (or, too much exposure to wide-eyed cartoons, as a child!). I was tryng to make a nice presentation of a rather mundane meal -- not in taste but in appearance -- without using a bowl. But, there being some liquidity to the chili, I didn't want it running all over the plate; so, I decided to place it in a rice ring. And, then, I wanted some corn but not IN my chili -- not this time. Soooooo, I ringed it around the outside and, well, there it was, a reversed adaptation of a fried egg! Can't help it. Holidays are keeping me busy and my mind is still focused on ingredients for other projects and photography is very low on the totem pole.

But, this is a super-easy meal for really cold evenings and I wanted to share it with you. The pork was in my doggie bag from a local bbq place and saved me oodles of time. I had placed the beans in water, the night before, and they were plumped and ready.

I pre-heated the solar oven (and, it's been cold here, in the low teens!) to 225F. Then, drained the beans and put them in a roasting pan that has a cover. In a large saucepan over med-high heat, combine the following ingredients: finely chopped pork; 1 medium onion, chopped coarsely; 1 medium-hot chili pepper, seeded and sliced finely; 1/2 tsp chopped hot chili pepper seeds, chopped very fine; 1/2 tsp carrot leaves, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp garlic granules, 1/2 tsp ground horseradish, 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, 2 tsps sugar or stevia. Blend together over med-high burner on stove, until mixture starts to bubble. Transfer to roasting pan, cover, and put in oven for 2-3 hours. Prepare rice and corn in last half hour. Serve.

Saturday, December 11

December 2010 Toast to You!

Goodness! Wasn't Christmas Just a Few Weeks Ago?
A little late in my toasting, dear followers, although, I'm not apologizing. We're all busy and you've been wonderful. eReader cover sales have been great, and there's still time for those of you who haven't gotten one for yourself or a loved one.

Like you, I've been busy baking, crafting, wrapping presents, and getting ready to put up the tree. But, I don't want to miss thanking you for being there for me or forget to welcome all the newcomers!

My Toast to You!
The season brings us joyful memories, 
Through cards from family and friends.
Each produces that special moment
Of gatherings that have been.
It's a time to count our blessings,
And remember those who wait above.
A time to wish the happiest of holidays, 
To you and those you love.

Wednesday, December 8

It's My SITS Day! Welcome, SITStahs! Happy Holidays!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS! -- My "Decorating for Christmas on a $15 Budget," free e-book gift to you has been extended through the Holidays! Obviously, my SITS day has passed but for all of you who continue to visit, simply follow the directions at the end of this posting and you will receive your own FREE copy, either as an e-book or in the .pdf version for those of you who use 

Today is my SITs Day! If you haven't heard about SITS, please check out their site. It's one of those super-special support sites that dedicates itself to helping more than 6,000 female bloggers find each other. Do yourself a favor and visit them if you want to find a way to build up your site, link together, and forge new friendships that make blogging such an exciting journey!

Now, if you've never been here to my site, before, welcome to a whole new experience in ways to make delicious meals and reduce your energy bills. Francesca (a really cool SITStah!) asked for a how-to article for the holidays and I decided to offer you my FREE ebook on Decorating for Christmas on a $15 Budget that used to be available on an older web site.  Before we switch over to the book info, I just wanted to say that I could go on all day about the benefits of solar cooking -- to the earth and your pocketbook -- but it's probably easier to let you browse my site and let it speak for itself! I hope you'll find it intriguing enough to want to incorporate it into your own cooking arsenal to create delicious meals for your family and put money in your pocket! But, now on to your FREE holiday gift!

FREE e-Book
 Happy Holidays from Creative Handz -- the crafty side of Solar Cooking at Home for Mainstream Cooks!

Thursday, December 2

Solar Winter Cooking is All in the Timing

Winter Solar Cooked Meals Need Timing
For new followers, I'm updating an older post to help with using a solar oven during the colder months. On a sunny day, the outside temperature doesn't matter; but, what time you begin to solar cook does matter. If you've prepared your meal the night before, as you would for a slow cooker, placing your meal in the solar oven before going to work, no problem; you'll have a wonderful meal waiting for you.

But, same-day preparation means you'll need to plan on using the best winter times for solar cooking -- between 10:00am and 2:00pm.  This meal was actually cooked between 1:00pm and 4:30pm, but that was with full access to the sun. A meal started after 2:00pm would probably require finishing up in the conventional oven.

This 1.5-pound package of pork loin was removed from the freezer and defrosted in the microwave. A loaf pan was lined with sliced onions, the pork loin placed over them, then spices, more onions, some raisins, and the whole thing was sealed in an oven bag. For my side dish, I used a packaged mix of scalloped potatoes and put all those ingredients in a second loaf pan. Both were placed in their own SolarWear(tm) Carriers and into the sun oven by 1:15pm.

Tuesday, November 23

Solar Penne Pasta, November Harvest, and Iron Foodie Follow-up

Solar Penne Pasta Casserole
Around the holidays, it's hard to get everything done and, knowing there's gonna be a never-stop-eating meal on Thanksgiving, we're catching meals on the fly, here. Had some left over roasted chicken that served as the protein in this casserole. We've been having some unusually sunny days for this time of year and I've been keeping the solar oven busy with drying herbs, roasting veggies for storage, and dinners. This little casserole, along with some toasted garlic bread, really hit the spot.

Thursday, November 18

Pumpkin Soup in Its Own Bowl - Redoux - Solar Cooked

It's almost Thanksgiving and pumpkin soup is always great as a side dish -- especially when served in its own bowl! Up to my elbows with holiday crafting, I decided to repost this old blog that so many new followers haven't seen, as yet. It's a great presentation and very festive. Enjoy.

Pumpkin Soup In Its Shell Recipe in the Solar Oven

Fall weather means football, hockey, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and -- Pumpkin Soup in Its Shell.  With a God-given container, why not use it to serve your family as well as decorate your dinner table?  Solar cooking fills the bill with my Pumpkin Soup in its Shell Recipe.  Using your solar oven for slow cooking will guarantee a good solid pumpkin soup bowl and a way to keep it nice and hot until serving time. I like to use the mini-pumpkins so each diner has their own bowl.

Because of its bowl-like shape, many mini-pumpkins can hold up to four cups of liquid. That's a lot of pumpkin soup for anyone! Fill them to just a tad above the widest part of the pumpkin waist and let your guests decide if they want more. For this recipe, I used fairly large mini-pumpkins -- at least 10 inches round -- but there are plenty of smaller ones available that would be just perfect for an 8-ounce serving.  And, remember, anything you can do in a conventional oven, you can do with a solar oven.

Saturday, November 13

Solar-Baked Tuna Cakes with Lemon Sauce

Solar-Baked Tuna Cakes, Brown Rice and Corn

Tuna Cakes With Lemon Sauce

Years ago, I fell in love with chunk light tuna canned in water, not oil. This economical recipe works, either way, and it's simply a personal preference. While I adore fresh tuna steaks, canned tuna works better, for me, if it isn't quite so, well, canned, in taste. These turned out delish, with a nice crispy top and bottom and lots of good-eating, in between. Served with brown rice and corn, this was a meal that was easy to prepare and easy on the pocketbook!

Large-Sized Muffin Tin Makes Light Work of Tuna Cakes
It's not the easiest thing in the world to crisp up canned meat or fish cakes, without cooking them through, because you're basically working with a "pre-cooked" item. I try to avoid frying in oils, whenever possible,

Tuesday, November 9

Check Out Hotpants's Eight Answers on Rockin' Reflections!

In trying to keep this blog separate from general blogging, I've put The Mom Chef's Pay It Forward Tagging post and my eight questions on Rockin' Reflections. Even though I have picked seven of my favorite bloggers to answer, I didn't put any pressure on them for instant responses.

Isn't she beautiful!
So, my first blogger to check in was Hotpants(tm) from Handbags and Handguns, and she's done a great job! The answers are wonderful.  Please check it out, then visit her fantastic site, come back and let us know what you like the most about her blog. Don't forget the comment love!

Sunday, November 7

November Toast - A Time for Cheer

November Toast - A Time for Cheer
The year has flown by and so many new friends have become a part of my life. It's so exciting to visit their sites for new postings and then have them visit mine. It's hard to imagine how much the Internet has changed the way we seniors face our less active years. We have found friends from all over the world who share our interests, halve our sorrows, and double our joys, because we are able to touch each other even beyond the ways of the old kaffeklatch.

Blogging opens our hearts even more than the spoken word. Is it because the quiet tapping of the keys makes us feel as though we are sharing secrets? Does saying some things out loud make the reality too harsh? I don't know the answer but I do know that we have created a supportive world that was unknown just 20 years ago and is commonplace among the young. So, to you, my new-found friends:

Though miles prevent a warm embrace;
And avatars may hide your face.
You're not alone; how can you be?
The Internet has set you free.
And, 'though we've met in a world so new; 
Joy and Love, my friends, to all of you! 

Thursday, November 4

Iron Foodie Contest! from Foodie Blogroll and Marx Foods

An Iron Foodie Contest from Foodie Blogroll and Marx Foods
25 Challengers - 25 Recipes - 3 Secret Ingredients - 1 Grand Prize Winner

Some of you may remember my winning original recipe using three random ingredients of champagne, mushrooms, and oranges here chosen by the previous winner of the The Royal Foodie Joust. There have been other contests, since then, but I've been busy and they've been revamping their site. Well, this Iron Foodie Contest is too irresistible, for me, because the winner gets a $200 certificate to spend at Marx Foods, which is just too good a prize to not participate. If you haven't visited the Marx Foods site, be prepared to drool! It's filled with wonderful gourmet foods from all over the world and they will be supplying eight mystery ingredients for contestants to use in original recipes. Three must be used in the recipe and the other five are gifts for entering the contest. There will only be 25 contestants chosen from entries based on

Monday, November 1

The Mom Chef's Pay It Forward Tagging Assignment Done!

The Mom Chef's Pay It Forward Tagging Did Me In

It all started with Chrisiane, The Mom Chef, when she got tagged with a list of eight questions and she decided to turn around and torture we innocent followers! Well, I did my assignment but posted on my other blog because I'm trying to limit this one to solar cooking, primarily.  Imagine my surprise to discover no one knows about my other blog -- at all!

Well, that's because I'm a dumb bunny! My other blog just won't show up on this one (even in my profile) because it's under a different, older, email address. So, I've given it a widget over there on the right and here in this post because I just know you'll want to find out if you've been selected as the next torturee.

Head on over to Rockin' Chair Reflections to get a glimpse. There are almost no pictures over there, just a bunch of this and that.  Enjoy.

Sunday, October 31

Fried Solar Potato-Carrot Medley Ring With 12-Bean Filling

Fried Solar Potato-Carrot Medley With 12-Bean Filling
Finding names for recipes can be difficult, when there are so many similar ones out there. But, I wanted to see how a two-step recipe would work with the solar oven and still have a crispy taste. Taking pictures can be tricky -- especially, when you're trying to prepare a meal at the same time and your other two hands are busy!  Potatoes and beans can make a very satisfying meal and, when arranged prettily, make a great company meal, too.

Thursday, October 28

Happy Anniversary to Me! I'm One Year Old, Today!

It's My First Anniversary!
Well, I never thought I would last, this long, but here it is, my First Bloggerversary! Well, it couldn't have happened without you, my visitors, commentors, and new friends. It's been a delight to discover the world of blogging and, although there's much for me to learn, I appreciate the support of each and every one of you. 

There will be a lot happening in the next few months with solar energy and mainstream cooking and hope you will continue to follow and encourage others to join in this new world we're creating. My oven is progressing, believe it or not, and we're in the tweaking stage which takes longer than one would expect. But, it's important to take care of any problems at this stage rather than find out we screwed up down the line. So, please, bear with me and we'll all share in the journey together.

I've seen where others have Bloggerversaries and open it up into all-day specials, but I don't know how to do that, yet, so you'll just have to settle for my sincerest heartfelt thank-you for all that you've done and been to me through this past year.  I love you all and always look forward to your comments, as well as visiting you and keeping up with your posts. 

Have a great day!


Thursday, October 21

Opening Night for 'Is He Dead' and NC Fair Entry Follow-Up

We Open "Is He Dead" This Weekend
Just to keep you posted, rehearsals are over and we open "Is He Dead" this weekend. Here I am in my second act costume as Bathilde. This is going to be a fun run...

It is always nice to be reminded of just how restrictive these styles were for women. I literally have to be dressed into this outfit that has at least four closure steps. No wonder women were always fainting. But, this really is a fun show and I'm looking forward to it. The cast is really top drawer and it's a privilege to be on stage with them. The run is almost totally sold out, and it's always fun to play to a full house. Wishes of "break a leg" are welcome!

Friday, October 15

Which Pots, Pans, or Jars, are Best to Use in Solar Oven

Which Pots, Pans, or Jars, are Best to Use in the Solar Oven?
 Recently, a reader asked me for help in selecting the correct size of pans to use in her Global Sun Oven(R). Below is the round 3-quart roasting pan with cover that works very well in the oven. There's plenty of room for your meats and vegetables and it's already dark, so you don't have to worry about heat reflection. Without handles on the sides of the pan, it can be a little tricky getting it out of the oven when it's hot. This pan is the reason I invented my SolarWear(tm) and it works like a charm.

Friday, October 8

Solar Lamb Stew w/Butternut Squash-Apple Casserole

Solar Lamb Stew w/Squash-Apple Casserole
I love the Fall.  It's time for all those yummy serious vegetables and entrees like Lamb Stew with Butternut Squash casserole. Can you smell the leaf fires? Ah... This is one of those recipes that surprise you with how good they taste. I knew it was a winner when all I could hear was my sister's 'drinking' the juices from her plate! The Butternut Squash Casserole is very easy to make, while the lamb stew requires some prep work before final cooking. I wanted to use some of my dehydrated tomatoes, too, so I put 2 Tablespoons in a dish and added 4 Tablespoons water to rehydrate them.  Then, went out to preheat the solar oven, which reached 325F in fifteen minutes.

Sunday, October 3

October Toast, The Play, and Catch-up

October Toast and Catch-up
Phew! September just flew by And, it has been a very busy month for me. In addition to my solar cooking, it's the time of year when the garden is put to rest and I get to play a little.

The Play's the Thing
Speaking of playing, I was recently cast in a play called, Is He Dead, a new comedy by Mark Twain, as adapted by David Ives. A young painter of genius, Jean-Fran├žois Millet, is in love with Marie Leroux but because of his debts, is being threatened with debtor's prison unless Marie marries him. (What an interesting judicial prospect!) We open October 22 at Deep Dish Theater in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Monday, September 27

Solar Tuna Pie With or Without Egg Sauce

Solar Tuna Pie With or Without Egg Sauce
Somedays, you just want food on the table with minimal preparation. A fast peek midst the stores on my shelves and in the fridge and the Solar Tuna Pie with Egg Sauce was born! And, it was delicious -- both the cooked pies and the cold leftover filling for sandwiches, the next day.  Using ready-to-fill refrigerated pie crusts, two per package, I cut each roll in half and lightly rolled them to compress the dough and make it just a touch thinner.  Tuna mixture: 2 cans drained tuna, 1/2 medium onion, 1 green pepper, 1 stalk celery, 1/4 head Boston lettuce, (all finely chopped), 1 Tablespoon sweet relish, 1 teaspoon yellow mustard, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 teaspoon mace, 1/4 teaspoon cumin (optional), 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese.  Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Tuesday, September 21

Solar Christmas Amish Friendship Bread in a Jar

Solar Christmas Amish Friendship Bread in a Jar
The holidays will be here before you know it and this is the perfect time to get started. With just a few variations, Amish Friendship Bread becomes a delicious Christmas present. And, it's your choice of how dramatic you want to be. For me, the standard recipe has generally produced three standard loaves of bread or one large bundt bread. To get a head start on Christmas, why not make two loaves and 3 pint-sized canned breads from a single recipe. Before long, you will have plenty of Hostess gifts ready for all those holiday parties on your calendar. Before sealing the jar, adding a quarter cup of rum or brandy will ensure that your gift will keep indefinitely. Without the rum./brandy, your gift will have a shelf life of between 3 to 6 months without any loss of flavor. Keep in a cool, dark, part of your pantry or on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator.

Monday, September 13

A Peck of Powder in a Pint - Dehydrated Garden Fresh Tomatoes!

A Peck of Powder in a Pint - Dehydrated Garden Fresh Tomatoes!
Tomato Flakes and Tomato Powder
One of my favorite kitchen appliances is the dehydrator -- I have a Nesco, one of those round ones that will hold up to 12 trays but still takes up little room.  My girls loved to snack on dehydrated vegetables -- they're sweet, crunchy, and the flavor is so good, it's almost beyond description; but, more to the point, they're healthy!  This year's garden was more beauty than produce which meant I would have to supplement my harvest with a trip to the local farmer's market. These two jars came from just one peck of tomatoes -- the jar on the left has tomato flakes for soups and stews needing a burst of color along with taste and the jar on the right has tomato powder for fresh tasting flavorings, pastes, catsups, and sauces. Believe me, the taste result is well worth the effort.

Thursday, September 9

Solar Short Ribs with Carrot Coins and Spaghetti Squash

Solar Short Ribs, Carrot Coins and Spaghetti Squash
This is one of those ideal solar meals that can be cooked in a conventional oven, crockpot, or solar oven. Short ribs need slow cooking and low temperatures to break down the fibrous tissue to a melt-in-your-mouth experience. (If the fibrous tissue doesn't break down, imagine long-term chewing of dental floss...) This meal produces a table full of 'rollin' eyes and gnashin' teeth' (as they say in the country), after which you sit out on the porch to listen to home music and the old folks' tooth-suckin' wisdom... (urp!)  So, let's get started...

Monday, September 6

Happy Labor Day! - September Toast

My September Toast to You!
I always think of the fall as a time of new growth.  School starts and minds are open to new information that will help us discover how to continue or choose a lifetime path. In that light, here is my September toast, to  you:
May you... let the past be your strength to the present ...set your goals in support of your future ...and have the knowledge to see when your direction changes, to stay the course of your dreams.

Thursday, September 2

Solar Curry Frittata, Artisan Loaf Bread, and Chamomile Tea

A Light Solar Curry Frittata, Artisan Loaf Bread, and Chamomile Tea
It's been hard thinking of heavy meals in this incredibly hot weather, so I had one my favorite light summer brunches, a frittata with herbs and a few veggies from the garden.  The Artisan Loaf bread is featured, again, because I've been testing my process to make sure you can do the same thing -- lower heat with the end result being a crunchy crust and beautifully textured inside... Then, the palate was cleansed with some Chamomile tea in one of my favorite teapots...

The Solar Curry Frittata:  Preheat solar oven to 225F.  Thinly slice the following: one summer squash, one red bell pepper, one large mushroom, one medium onion, 4 medium

Saturday, August 28

Solar Cooking Question - Give Me the Children

Solar Cooking Question of the Week - Give Me the Children

This past week in my comments, I was asked a very good question by Maggie at Walk On The Happy Side.  She inspired me to start a new section for this blog -- answering questions from mainstream folks who are just discovering solar cooking and want more information.  Once a week, I will pick one or two of your questions and answer them to the best of my ability. (No, I'm not going to answer questions about the contents of my car trunk or where I get my drugs -- although, I must say the expression on the helpful policeman's face when I brought out the axe, the whip, and my seven-inch filleting knife, looking for the jack, was priceless!)  This week's question was also a challenge that you can read in its entirety in my previous post.  Here is the paraphrased question:
"Cause here's your challenge... While I love the idea of saving energy, the earth and living naturally all at once. How would you encourage me into the solar cooking world?"
Answer:   Well, Maggie, truth is, whenever you want to introduce a new way of thinking, you start with the children.  Their minds are little sponges, open to new ideas and eager to know everything about their world.

Wednesday, August 25

Today, I rest, because I have been asked to guest blog for Michelle over at All Home Cooking - All Year Long.  She does scratch-cooking, cake baking, menu planning, and is a food loving gal who loves a good challenge in the kitchen, experimenting with ingredients, twisting recipes, and feeding people!

It's always fun to meet new people and, in BlogLand, Michelle gives me hope for the art of cooking in the hearts of today's domestic engineers! Hope you'll visit her site and catch my post.  I'm going to have a nice glass of wine, prop my feet up, and plan my fall garden! (Right...back to work...)

Monday, August 23

Brandy, Bread, and Okra-Squash-Cheese Casserole

Plum Brandy Aging - Country Style
Life has been a little disjointed, lately, but I did manage to get a few things done. My neighbor was kind enough to share the bounty of her fruit trees and, although her lack of spraying did not produce picture-perfect plums, and we enjoyed some delicious desserts. Along with the hornets and bees (who ADORE fresh fruit), the wind had knocked down quite a bit of still very good fruit that would salvage into some great wine/brandy.  I went for the brandy.  After letting the plums do their thing in some sugar and a touch of yeast for ten weeks, I poured it all through an old T-shirt in a strainer and added the vodka for a gallon of some holiday brandy for pleasure and gift-giving.  The plums made a fantastic full-bodied wine that

Tuesday, August 17

A Different Kind of Container Garden

A Container Garden for Marriage
Another weekend of saying goodbye to a beloved sister-in-law.  We were once seven strong and are now down to two... And then, it was the annual weekend for the family reunion that has been taking place since 1926... the older generations go (I'm one of them, now) and the young begin to replace... it's the natural order of things but hard to bear the passing... Watching the intertwining of their lives, all I could think of was what I had written several years ago in response to a woman asking what container gardening could possibly have to do with love... I know it was the influence of watching these families living their lives in love that inspired my words...

Friday, August 13

A Month of SUNdays - Solar Cookbook Giveaway!

A Month of SUNdays - Solar Cookbook Giveaway Starts Today!

Congratulations to the winner, AliLilly!

TammyM over at the Not Just Paper and Glue - It's a Whole Lot More website is offering my cookbook as part of her Moving Party Giveaway. She recently switched her Blogger address and to keep her followers, she decided to throw the party with a month of weekly gift drawing! Sign up for my cookbook simply by following her on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  Each different resource is a separate entry... so, while you're thinking about it, pop on over and enter the drawing... then, hurry back! A Month of SUNdays cookbook winner announced August 19, 2010 and, then, there's a Grand Prize winner drawn from all the entries and announced on September 3, 2010. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 11

Solar Country Style Ribs in Cranberry Wine Sauce

Solar Country Style Ribs in Cranberry Wine Sauce Over Fried Polenta
As someone who enjoys getting the most from her money, it's very hard for me to buy bone-in ribs when the country-style offers generous portions and little mess. [This is a tough time for me, right now. Another dear sister-in-law is failing and her life's journey is at an end. It's very hard to think of anything or anyone other than her, right now.  Please forgive me.]

If you've never had Polenta, it's delicious and well worth trying.  Lots of ways to serve, once it's made, and is probably more popular than pasta in Italy.  Directions: In a saucepan, bring at least double the water/liquid to 1 cup cornmeal (I use yellow) to a boil, add salt and pepper, and stir constantly until the Polenta is smooth to the taste, not grainy. If the mix gets too thick before reaching the smooth stage, add more liquid.  Polenta is very forgiving.  Cover the bottom of an 8"x8" pan with cling wrap and pour in the Polenta, cover with another layer of cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator for about six hours, or overnight, to firm up. Then, you can cut it into any shape and bake or fry it for a really great addition to any meal.

Saturday, August 7

Summer Figs Bring Jams, Leather, and Holiday Treats

ummer Figs Bring Jams, Leather, and Holiday Treats
There is nothing more delicious than a fresh fig, kissed by the sun. And, my neighbor has always been very generous with hers.
But, hers are on a young fig bush, producing more than enough for us to make some jam and enjoy fresh figs for a few weeks; but, there's not alot left after the first harvest for all the holiday goodies we like to make.

So, clever girl that I am, when I made my infamous Fig-Raspberry Jam last year, I shared a jar with my hairdresser who just happens to have a serious, major, fig TREE at her shop.  Wanting more jam, she

Wednesday, August 4

The Grow Your Own July Collection Has Some Great Recipes

July 2010 Grow Your Own #42 Collection Has Some Great Recipes
I know you love my solar recipes and I have more coming up, but food is love and so is sharing and I want you to check out these great entries in the Grow Your Own #42 July 2010 Collection.  Yes, I do have an entry, but you'll love the journey through all the other tasty dishes being hosted over at The Kitchen Gadget Girls site.  They come from all over the world and it's wonderful to see the delicious diversity.  I think Andrea Meyers had a great idea when she started this three years ago. You might even want to take some time to look through previous entries.  I hope so. Have fun.

Monday, August 2

No Impure Thoughts Keep My Prize Fairy Working Overtime!

Gift Number One
I don't know what I did, but I'm sure it must've been the result of my not having any impure thoughts, because I won, not one but two (count them), TWO blogger giveaway drawings this weekend. It's really very exciting to discover that your name has been randomly picked and that, very soon, your prize will soon be in hand.

From jaz at, I won a book called 'Garden Witchery, Magic From the ground Up' by ellen Dugan. She bought the book in Salem (yes, that Salem, MA) and it is filled with wonderful poetry, drawings, and vignettes from writers we would have never thought to be interested in garden magic. I'm especially delighted to be able to read what the author has to say about gardening by the moon because I have often done it with excellent results, so far as root plants are concerned.
If you haven't visited her blog, you are missing out on some fantastic recipes, folklore, and garden design elements that will take your breath away. There is not a nook or cranny in her home that is not beautifully decorated, with a special Halloween theme during the fall. It's eye-candy all over the place and a site I am sure you will bookmark.  Her giveaways are ongoing and, if you would like a chance to win some exquisite treasure, simply leave a comment on the particular giveaway post. If you are not already a follower, sign up to follow. But, the most important reason of all for following jaz is Teddy, her teddy bear of a dog. You'll just fall madly in love.

Sunday, August 1

Sunday Toast - A New Month and National Solar Cooking Day

Sunday Toast and Today is National Solar Cooking Day!
All over America, solar chefs are getting together to cook and share their knowledge of using a solar oven. I'm hoping to start an annual solar cooking festival here in North Carolina by next year.  Little by little, I've been speaking before small groups and community clubs about the benefits of solar cooking and it appears as though things are starting to take off.  Why don't you check your paper, today, and see if there's an event taking place in your area that you can visit and get to know the folks who have already discovered this fantastic way of preparing meals and saving money.

My Sunday toast to you:
May our friendship, like wine,
Improve as time advances.
And may we always have old wine,
Old friends, and young cares.

Thursday, July 29

Solar Ham Loaf Patties and Tomatoes With Summer Squash Casserole

Solar Ham Loaf Patties and Tomatoes With Summer Squash Casserole
My neighbor and I have collaborative gardens! Not by plan, mind you, it has just happened. My tomatoes have yet to produce mature fruit, but hers have pretty much reached the end of their season, and she openly shares the bounty. But, my squash is starting to come in and the next few weeks are going to be busy and, as you know, once they decide to do their thing, there's no stopping for the gardener -- and, of course, my neighbor will share in its bounty (not to mention being a taster for my recipes, as well).  So, with the bounty of herbs and spices, onions, and squash, dinner was a snap. Uh-oh! No, it wasn't...

Monday, July 26

Solar Beef Heart Scotched Egg on Quinoa Bed -GYO #42

Solar Beef Heart Scotched Egg on Quinoa Bed
[UPDATE: This dish has been entered in Andrea Meyer's July Grow Your Own #42 cooking event because it has so many items fresh from the garden. It's being hosted by Kitchen Gadget Girls, so check them out for some neat stuff and this month's entries.]

I love dishes that give the diner a little tasty surprise; but, I still want the flavors to carry over throughout the meal so that everything harmonizes. This is what happens with my Beef Heart Scotched Egg recipe.  Beef heart is high in protein and four ounces goes a long way but doesn't 'feel' like you've had enough, so I decided to hide a boiled egg inside the loaf mixture to balance it -- just like Scottish Eggs.  The quinoa shares a lesser amount of the same herbs and spices as the beef heart mixture along with some extras that give it its own identity on the plate -- and, another surprise! -- there's a layer of garden-fresh yellow squash under the quinoa bed that adds a subtle nuttiness. This is a meal that will feed alot of people based on how many eggs used because they are encased in just under one-quarter inch of the beef heart mix.

Sunday, July 25

A Toast to You, My Followers and Commentors

Sundays Are for Toasting My Followers and Commentors!
You're all so very special to me and I look forward to sharing comments and postings, every day. I've been wanting to set aside one day a week for a special posting, as so many others have done; but, what could I do that would be different?  Well, there I was, drinking my libation in this very special glass made for me by a dear friend,  thinking and thinking of what I could do (...actually thought myself to sleep, at one point!), reading through new comments and slowly realizing that my replies weren't always seen by the commentor. Not everyone returns to see responses and I know that most of you are very busy just trying to keep up with your own postings... sooooo, I decided that Sundays would be my day to thank all of you who visit, who do or do not make comments, but have become my virtual friends.  I've heard it said that, once you toast someone, they become a friend for life (or, at least, will think warmly of you), so here is my first of many Sunday toasts to you!  
Thank you, to those who follow,
Thank you, to those who speak;
Thank you, for sharing your postings,
Hope to see you, again, this week!

Friday, July 23

Summer Container Vegetable Garden Update

Summer Container Garden Has Survived the Heat
There's been so much happening in the last few months that I almost forgot to update on the gardens. Spring container garden finished up in late May and the summer garden went in the first week of June. Then we had nothing but hot dry weather and I really thought I wouldn't have a summer garden. But, I diligently went out in the cool early mornings and watered the beds. Things were slow until last weekend's daily thunderstorm and cooler weather. Vegetables had a great growth spurt and even offered up some goodies.  If you look close, you can see my first summer squash in there.

Sunday, July 18

Solar Cooking at Home - Why It's the Green Thing to Do - Vlog No.1

Intro to Solar Cooking at Home - Why It's the Green Thing to Do
Okay. I've taken the plunge. Put on your dark glasses and silk screening to protect your eyes from immediate blindness and your soul from being sucked in by internet waves! This is me, getting through my day, warts and all -- including sputtering... Yes, this is the same lady whose profile picture looks...well...different...from the vlog.  That's because it costs money and lots of rolls of film to look that natural! So, I decided to skip the primping and special clothes because I know there'll be more vlogs to come and I didn't want to have to get gorgeous every time there would be something to show you. So, here it is.

Some rules to keep in mind:
   1.  This is the how and why of what solar cooking means to me, and to you.
   2.  I didn't edit any sluffs because it's unscripted and I'm not perfect (in spite of what all my friends say!)
   3.  I have a heart of gold and it's in the bottom drawer on the left...

[Pssst.  Just love the way the camera angle gets rid of my double chin, too!] I can only assume these (the vlogs, not the chins) will improve as time passes, or, at least, before I pass... thanks for visiting.

Thursday, July 15

Bird Nest Available to Mama Bird With Black Belt

Bird Nest Now Available to Mama Bird With Black Belt
"Know from this the world's a snare,
How that greatness is but care, 
How all pleasures are but pain,
And how short they do remain." -- Francis Beaumont

I hate to say it, but I think the cats got the babies... no signs of a struggle, though, so it's a little confusing... doesn't matter, (sigh) the nest is vacant... empty... abandoned... bare... deserted... stark... uninhabited... unlived in... untenanted... void... without contents... in other words (sniff) -- to let...

Monday, July 12

Baby Orchard Produces -- Well, Babies!

A Serious Case of Apples and Oranges -- and, Babies!
The orchard is young and won't be producing fruit until next year but, today, I found that there was production going on -- new life!  Right in the middle of the cherry tree.  Now, last winter, my sister and I spent considerable time replacing old bird houses -- that are still looking for tenants, I might mention --  all situated in a safe place above the pampas grass, and -- away from the neighbor's cat.  But, oh, no, Mama Bird picks a cherry tree crotch about four feet off the ground and not protected, at all. Were I to give her any
 long-term thinking ability, I could accuse her of staking a claim on an early spring crop, but I figure with this late brood, she wasn't the brightest chick on the wing and was pulling on ancestral memory patterns for house-hunting.

Wait! Is that another open beak behind the 'star' hogging the photo op?  I think there is... yes,

Saturday, July 10

A Solar Cooking Interview on Life is Not Just Paper and Glue

 Life is Not Just Paper and Glue - It's a Whole Lot More is a blog run by Tammy Malone, crafter extraordinaire. Anything you want to know about stamping, designing, scrapbooking, this is the lady to ask for some great ideas. She has not only had her wonderful crafting books published but is on several major crafting designing teams and has a resume that is just short of breathtaking.

Well, today, she posted her interview of me, It's So Hot You Could Fry an Egg on the Sidewalk, and solar cooking. So, hop on over and read the posting, of course, but also take the time to discover what a great lady she is and how she may be of help to you, one way or another. For instance, if you can pull yourself away from my interview and you need a last-minute mini-gift and happen to have some spare chocolate (a  Lady Godiva bar, maybe?) around the house (hahaha...heeheehee...snort!.. like that's going to happen), she has a great way for you to make it even more special right here. Check out her other ideas, too.  You won't be sorry.

Wednesday, July 7

Plethora of Blueberries Has Been Tamed by Solar Oven

Blueberries Tamed by Solar Oven
With many thanks to my gracious and generous neighbor, I have had a plethora of blueberries to prepare and enjoy -- beyond piling them in a bowl and covering them with cream and sugar! Yummie!

Let's start with blueberry pancakes, covered in a solar blueberry sauce that will last a few more weeks!

Tuesday, July 6

Happy 75th Birthday, Dalai Lama

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.                  -- Dalai Lama

Random Acts of Kindness Build Bridge of Love Around the World
Lisa, from Anali's First Amendment blog, forwarded information about celebrating the Dalai Lama's 75th birthday by each of us performing a random act of kindness toward someone close or outside of our personal circles.  Showing compassion or kindness to another, in any way we can, and you can participate. 

Why not click on the Feed the Hungry buttons on my blog as a way of participating, as soon as possible?

If you would like to actively participate and be listed, *Se'Lah* from Necessary Room is holding a blog event where we all are building a Bridge of Love around the world and linking back to her site. Won't you join us?
Whether one believes in a religion or not, and whether one believes in rebirth or not, there isn't anyone who doesn't appreciate kindness and compassion.  — Dalai Lama
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