Saturday, January 29

VLOG - FAQ 1 - What Do You Do If There's No Sun?

FAQ 1:  Well, I've finally started the vlog series based on questions about solar cooking that I've received from mainstream cooks. After lots of stumbles, here's No. 1, warts and all. This better be the LAST new high-tech thingy invented before my estate matures or I'm in real trouble! Please bear in mind that my answers aren't the final word but what I've found works the best for me and what I feel would be the most helpful for you. Consider them as suggestions to get you started before your own wonderful creativity takes over!

So, without further ado, FAQ1: What do you do if there's no sun?
I'm going to send you to the YouTube video because it's just too jerky here in the blog and I would prefer a continuous video. Will have to work on that. Have a great day!

Wednesday, January 26

Ale Bread in Loaf Form - Follow-Up

Well, I did the Ale Bread in a loaf pan and used the bottom of one pan as a mold for heavy tinfoil to make a 'cover' for the first part of the baking.

Perfect for toast and sandwiches! Great texture, too. Just thought you'd like to see the difference.

Saturday, January 22

Tin Pan Turkey and Ale Bread

Solar Tin Pan Turkey - Winter Casserole
Some foods, no matter what you do, always look as though they belong on a tin plate! Today's is no exception. It's another study in beiges and so yummy, I don't care. The sun was shining, I had some reports to get out, and leftover turkey in the freezer. The secret ingredients give this winter casserole a 'pop' and, along with warm slices of Ale Bread, became the perfect comfort food.

The process is the same for most of my casseroles, so I didn't take step-by-step photos. But, preheat your solar or conventional oven to at least 275F. 

Tin Pan Turkey Casserole
2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, coined thin
2 Tbspns minced garlic
2 Tbspns olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tsp. powdered cream
1 tsp juniper berries, crushed fine
2 Tbspn flour
2 Tbspns orange marmalade
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup dark brewed coffee (or, 1 tsp. instant + 1 cup water)
1 cup brown rice

In a large skillet over med-high heat, soften onions, celery, and carrots, in olive oil. Blend all dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add marmalade to skillet and blend. Add dry ingredients; stir in completely while flour is cooking, about 2 minutes. Slowly add 1 cup of liquid while mixture is thickening to combine ingredients without scorching; add turkey, then balance of liquid. Bring to just under a boil and add rice. Transfer to casserole dish; stir and cover. Bake in solar oven at 275F for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. 

Ale Bread

[Pssst! Bread will cook at same time in solar oven, stacked above casserole, if using a flat top casserole cover.]

This recipe is from my cookbook, A Month of SUNdays - Solar Cooking at Home, with the change from beer to ale. There's only three ingredients and you can be serving fresh hot bread to your family and friends within an hour and a half. The texture is dense but light for chewing and the crust is nice and crunchy. That's because it starts out with a cover and then is left open for the last 30 minutes of cooking. In any event, the ale substitution made a heartier flavor and I'm going to see if I can't persuade my SOL to share more of his brewing results with me!

In a bowl, combine 3 cups self-rising flour, 2 Tbspns sugar, 12 ounces room-temperature ale/beer. Pour into greased casserole. I've used a 3-qt roasting pan here.
Cover and bake for 50 minutes. Remove cover and bake until browned and hollow when thumped -- approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool about 15 minutes before cutting. If I had used a loaf pan instead of the wider roasting pan, this would look like a standard loaf, perfect for sandwiches.
This bread was great with the Tin Pan Turkey Casserole! Didn't expect it because I wasn't sure of the final flavor, switching from beer to ale; but, what a great surprise!
The beige pallette was finished with a dollop of golden butter! The textures in this meal are well-balanced and you can always add contrast with some fresh fruit or greens.

[NOTE: We're going to be going through another move. Getting a dot-com has spread me all over the place with my blogs and I want to be able to access them from just one account. I know my followers will move with me, but I think I'm going to lose comments, again, unless I remember to revert to Blogger commenting. I've decided to not blend platforms because it's too complicated. I'm just a little fish, here, and I think it will be less trouble, for me. This is when I wish I was eight years old and had all this high-tech stuff figured out!]

Saturday, January 15

Giving Hope, Giving Thanks, Giving New Life

Giving Hope, First and Foremost
This has been a very different and difficult time for most of the world. We've had weather extremes, all over, and devastation that has caused so much heartache for so many. It's a time for giving and for giving thanks. But, first things first. I know that we are still helping those in New Orleans and Haiti, but if you could just stretch that dollar a bit more and help the tsunami-hit Australians who have lost everything by the flooding. Janet Clarkson, cookbook author and Brisbane resident,  has a wonderful blog called The Old Foodie where she shares her research and knowledge of the history of foods, along with wonderful recipes to try (if you can figure out the words from the past!). Her lastest posting shares a great Soup for Air-Raids, along with information about how to send your donations of money (they don't want articles, foods, or people showing up!) If you decide you don't want to pop over and then spend the next five years thoroughly engrossed in some fantastic food lore, you can go directly to the Australian Government's Premier's Flood Relief Appeal site that has the information for donations in all venues -- checks, direct deposits, posting by snail, whatever your preference for donating. You'll find at least one convenient way for you to do it. Please do what you can.

Saturday, January 8

Inspiration - Moving to a Dedicated Solar Cooking Domain

This is my posting for this week's Nicole Abdou's Destination: Unknown Blog Hop word theme of INSPIRATION. If you would like to participate, head on over to check out the rules, write your own post, and go to it!

The New Year Inspires Change
This first week of 2011 filled me with inspiration to do something about my laziness. Getting a dedicated blog site has been on the back burner far too long. I've owned the domain solarcookingathome[dot]com for years but, for some unknown reason, have been hesitant to use it. With the new year and added focus on making the change, it occurred to me that 'solar cooking at home' didn't reflect my mission when read cold -- like in a Google search. The subtitle said it better, yet, not quite on spot.

So, what was my inspiration to even try to bring solar cooking to mainstream cooks, those wonderful people living in housing developments, apartments, and small-tract housing? It was the immediate significant savings in my home energy bill and the companion reduction in fossil fuel usage that made solar cooking cutting edge common sense. Combined with other energy-saving appliances, you can see the savings reflected within the first two or three months of use on your energy bill. I don't live in a commune, don't go camping, and am not a survivalist. My cooking is very mainstream, whether using original, gourmet, boxed or frozen meals, from whatever I can find at the local market or fresh from a summer garden. The only difference is that I use the sun for long-term cooking of my recipes, and that means I'm cooking for FREE! In other words, I'm mainstream solar cooking!

I'm mainstream solar cooking! Eureka! Duh! Mainstream... Solar... Cooking! That's it; that's the domain name I needed and it was available. The only downside was that I lost all my comments with the switchover and I'm so sad. I think I've lost all my followers, too! at least their little avatars, on my home page.  Come back! Come back! little avatars, if you can... 8-( 

But, to all of you, new and old, welcome to my new domain: I hope you'll take a look at my video of solar meals through 2010 and see just how easy, economical, and delicious solar meals can be. Come to think of it -- YOU'RE my inspiration!

Wednesday, January 5

Solar Cooking Thru 2010 - Video - Enjoy!

This has been quite a year for solar cooking, that's for sure. It's been a year of progress for me in so many different ways -- especially, in learning how to blog and vlog! So, I just wanted to share some of the luscious meals we've had in 2010 with those of you who are new to my blog. Remember, this was done while saving energy and lowering fuel bills. And, if one takes your fancy, you'll find the recipe in the archives. Thank you for a great year...

Bet you're hungry, now!

Monday, January 3

Your Doors of 2011 and My Toast to You!

The new year is a time for choices. Will it change your life or will you remain the same? We're not always in control of what's on the other side -- choices you can't avoid or will welcome with open arms, are already heading your way. It's the love/hate relationship we have had with doors since the beginning of time. So, for your doors of 2011, here is my toast to you:

If you fear the unknown, may you find the inner strength to take a chance.
If you rush to the unknown, may you know the difference between exploration and running away.
If you desire the unknown, may you be well-prepared for the journey.
If you are asked to share the unknown, may it be your decision and the very best choice for you.
And, at the close of 2011, may your choices reflect a year of seized opportunity, new-found courage, and a deeper understanding of your family and friends. But, most of all, may you discover peace and an acceptance of yourself. 

Now, go to your mirror, look yourself square in the eye and say, "Okay, 2011, let me hear you knockin'!
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