Monday, June 13

Delicious Solar Peppers and Kielbasa at Midtown Market

Because the North Hills Midtown Market is only open from eight a.m. until noon, it takes some thinking to come up with samples of solar cooking that I know will be done with enough time to share! Remember, I made Butter Pecan Ice Cream Bread, last week, but didn't want to become known for just breads and jellies. I wanted to show that solar cooking was versatile, even in the earlier hours. And, of course, samples had to be easy to give out, either sliced or spooned into cups; so, I did some late evening prep work Friday night and came up with a tri-colored pepper mix, with added onions, poblano pepper, and Polish Kielbasa. A touch of oil with half a packet of my Granny Grumbles Soup/Dip Mix, and I was good to go.

I wanted to have some rice to gather up the juices of this Pepper Trio with Kielbasa, so stacking the trays made sense. And, as an added benefit, food would stay hot and fresh, waiting for the second round of samples. Still a little large for samples, most of the ingredients were cut into smaller than my usual pieces, and they worked out fine. The above trays were half-filled, then covered with foil, and stacked in SolarWear(R). The oven didn't really turn "on" until 9:25a.m., when you could see the temperature rising, and I put the food in at 9:40 when the thermometer showed 200F.  I had filled a pint jar with microwaved hot water before leaving home and set it next to the trays. By 10:05 a.m., bubbles were starting to appear at the edges of the water and I added the pre-measured  Instant whole grain brown rice that cooks in ten minutes from MinuteRice and it was just what was needed. It worked beautifully.

Everything was ready for samples by 10:30 a.m. and there was a steady stream of hungry folk from then on. My mix was a true 'secret' ingredient and made a delicious sauce. The rice was perfect and a great base for this dish, although, I didn't make enough and the last dozen or so samplers had to do without. Even had the chefs from the local hotel stop by, who became totally intrigued with solar cooking and what it could do. Asked me how it could be incorporated into their cuisine and I said I'd give it some thought. But, we truly are at different ends of the cooking spectrum -- they want the food out on the plates within 20 minutes after an order comes in and I'm closer to at-home cooking where it's done when it's done.

All in all, Saturday's Midtown Market was wonderful. The skies started out with heavy clouds, but soon cleared up to a beautiful blue sky, light breezes, and lots of folks. Because, June 11th was a special day for artists, as well, we had an extra hour at the Market for the Plein Air Painting Submissions, Festival and Auction. The visitors were able to bid on their favorites in a silent auction, as well as pick their favorites for first, second, and third place ribbons to be awarded to the winning artists. Submissions had to be plein air and done either in a three-hour period Saturday morning or finished in the same amount of time, earlier in the week. Light jazz from The Plein Air DJ filled the air and the combination of  art, music, original crafts, and fresh vegetables brought a larger crowd than usual to the market, making it a very festive day.

My next scheduled date is June 25th, giving me plenty of time to come up with another tasty dish. Hope to see you there.


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