Friday, June 21

3-2-1 Cake, Squash, and Tea at the Market!

Last Saturday was a great day for solar cooking at the Midtown Raleigh Farmers Market on the Commons at North Hills Mall. Started preparing tea water and summer squash (with some garlic from my neighboring vendor, Donald and Doris Kidd of Kidd Farm. They have fabulous elephant garlic, as well as other varieties, and it's a great place to stock up.  This will be mostly pictures.

Started my summer squash combo of Yellow Crookneck and Pattypan squash with chopped garlic stems, salt and pepper in the Global Sun Oven(R) and tea water in the EZ-3 at 8:15.  Once the squash pans were hot, I transferred them over to the SolarCub(R)

I knew another vendor, Better be Ellerbe,  would be bringing fresh peaches and bought a bag to create a peach layer under my 3-2-1 cakes.  So I used two peaches per 7-inch foil baking pan and doubled the cake recipe. Since you can stack your pans in a solar oven, I had three cakes going by 8:40 a.m. Phew! Time to take a break with a soothing cup of Camomile tea.

And was serving samples by 9:30!  The top layer was done, first, and I let the others stay in the oven until needed and completely baked.  I forgot my stacking dividers and made some out of heavy-duty tinfoil. Not the best for anything but light foods; but, they served the purpose.

There was still more than enough time before the Market closed at noon to bake another cake for my gentleman caller!  That gave the visitors something to watch, as well, and moved a lot of solar kits, too!  This week, I'll be heading down to Hickory, North Carolina for a solar workshop and need to make some lists so I don't forget anything!

So, we've done the 3-2-1 cake in a cup, stacked with lemon curd and, now, baked with a layer of fresh peaches.  Does that give you any ideas you'd like to share?  Please do.

Wednesday, June 19

Solar 3-2-1 Cake - a Great Personal Dessert!

After seeing this 3-2-1 cake recipe in so many blogs, I decided to give it a try -- first per directions and, then, using the solar oven to see how well it would work at my booth and for demos.  The basic recipe is one box of angel food cake mix with a box of any other favorite cake mix, thoroughly combined.  You are then able to make just a cup of cake, at a time, by combining 3 tablespoons of mix with 2 tablespoons of water and bake it for 1 minute in the microwave. Voila! Instant personal serving. It's the egg whites in the Angel Food cake mix that gives it the leavening. Well, I tried it and loved the results, didn't like the texture or taste. I wanted a fuller cake experience. Sooooooo, I added some of my powdered eggs to the mixture. Two tablespoons to be exact, to match the 3 eggs called for in the German chocolate cake mix I was using. Oh, yes. This was the solution.
Started with a zip-lock bag of Angel Food and German Chocolate Cake mixes with the powdered eggs.
Gave them a good shaking and blending.
Put the mixture into a canning jar and added instructions.
Did my first test run and prepared a cup.
End result was a cup high cake with great taste and texture.
Time for the solar cooking test.  Decided to use a shallow foil pan to see what would happen and how much I would need for samples.  BUT, first, I created this wonderful oven bag 'tent' from wire hangers to make sure the bag didn't collapse during baking. (I did NOT expect this to cook in one minute using a solar oven!)
And, here it is doing a wonderful job in the SolarCub(R) 

In just 35 minutes, I had a lovely sample height cake from just one serving recipe. At the Market, I would double it because there was this little idea forming about fresh peaches. . .
Meanwhile, I was just too lazy to make frosting and decided to use some lemon curd as a filling. A very good decision.
The beauty of this recipe is that I don't have to worry about carrying eggs, oil, etc., to give demonstrations. Just the mix and some water and it's good to go.  Hope you'll try it.

Monday, June 10

Solar Roasted Fresh Garden Veggies and Greens

This year's garden is flourishing and the pattypan squash is demanding attention. Harvest time means it's also time to get started on my annual powdered vegetable mix. By the end of the growing season, I have several jars full of vitamins and nutritious flavor to enhance and thicken my gravies, sauces, and meat mixtures. I do a partial roasting of the veggies before dehydrating, powdering, and then adding each batch to the jar until it is full, when I thoroughly combine everything. By partially roasting the vegetables, they rehydrate quickly but are not overcooked in the final dish. It's an ideal way to both add vegetables and thicken your  sauces and mixes, without using flour.
It was a good time to test both my Copenhagen-type solar oven and a SolarCub(R) without its insulated carrier. Used two five-quart Pyrex bowls that I bought at the thrift shop for only $5.99 each (you can still see the price on the bottom, there!) in the larger oven (15" sides) and a quart-sized canning jar in an oven bag in the SolarCub(R) (12" sides). The 'greens' in the Copenhagen were edible pea pods and a mixture of lettuce, spinach, and chard, in the SolarCub(R).

Two bowls create oven chamber in Copenhagen-type oven
I am the first one to say that testing greens in a solar oven is a lot like frying eggs on a sidewalk -- it's going to happen. Greens break down in heat, rapidly, so there was no question in my mind that things would get done -- even though I started after two in the afternoon. The Pyrex bowls were heavy enough that I didn't need anything to hold the top one in place. I used an oven bag and a rice bag for the "floor" of the SolarCub.

Oven bag with rice bag 'floor'
By three-thirty p.m., the roasting was done. You can see how much the greens reduced in volume in the canning jar. They were stuffed tight to the top at the start.


It's a little harder to see the difference with the pea pods, because I forgot to take a 'before' picture, but both are now ready for the dehydrator.

Oh, I refurbished my garden this year and some of the radishes are really big! My Dad loved radishes and this one would have pleased him, I'm sure.

As summer advances, I'll have several of these ovens set up for the prep work for my veggie mix. I can be roasting from early morn until late afternoon, keeping my kitchen cool, and my energy bill low. It doesn't get any better.

Sunday, June 2

Solar Roasted Goat-Lamb Loaf

I need to vent! This has been a very busy spring and Blogger is giving me fits! Is anyone else running into the problem of bringing up your page (or, any page, for that matter) and then immediately being whisked to another full page of advertising?  I don't even click on anything, and I'm taken away. Don't like it. Don't like it, at all.  Phew! Glad that's out. Today's meal is a result of trying some ground goat meat from Walk Ahead Farms, another vendor at the Midtown Farmers Market on the Commons at North Hills Mall.

My previous experience with goat meat has been that it is very lean and so I decided to add some ground lamb to juice it up, rather than butter. Even though I made a loaf, it's really much closer to compact gyro meat and lends itself to a variety of serving choices. For the Market, I served it with small strips of solar-toasted bread and a little spread made from yogurt, dill, onion and cucumber. Even folks who had never tried goat, before, loved it. 

Small foil baking pan, covered for cooking
Walk Ahead Farms raises Boer goats for their meat and it's much more succulent than the goat meat I've had through the years. The lamb added some fat to it and the texture was very close to that of the gyro sandwich meat.  I used smaller loaf tins that were lined with doubled paper toweling to collect the grease during cooking. Because of the short time for cooking and sharing at the Market, I've been using multiple smaller pans to be ready for serving sooner and still keep the rest hot until needed. Once loaf is cooked, remove the paper toweling before presentation and serving.

I've removed the paper toweling and cut it up in the tray for the
Market visitors
The herbs were garden-fresh. You may have to adjust the portions to suit your taste, if using dried herbs. I generally take a very small portion of my final mixture and zap it in the microwave to see if I need to adjust anything before baking a whole loaf.

Roasted Goat-Lamb Loaf

1 pound ground goat meat
1 pound ground lamb meat
2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 T rosemary
1 T garlic chive
1/2 T dill
1/2 T oregano
1/4 T thyme
1 tsp basil
1 tsp stevia
1 T tomato powder
1 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp grated lemon rind

Preheat solar oven to 225F.  Line baking pans with parchment paper or paper toweling.

Finely chop herbs and onion and combine with rest of ingredients; mix thoroughly. If you don't have tomato powder, use 2 T tomato paste. Divide into loaf pans and bake in solar oven until cooked through, approximately 50 minutes.

Because of the density of the cooked loaf, it was very easy to slice and fry for a tasty breakfast treat.

I hope you'll give goat meat a try, if you  haven't yet had a chance to taste this delicious protein. And, as always, we'd love to hear what you think of it, too.

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