Last Saturday when Jim returned around 10:00 a.m. from a morning errand, he predicted a warm and sunny day would follow. It would be a day, he declared, worth getting out the solar cookers. In 2008, we experimented with solar-cooking on fairly regular basis; last summer, we didn’t make nearly as many solar-cooked dishes. Lately, we’ve been talking about our plans for the garden and the summer, and we both agreed that we should further explore solar cookery. So there we had it: the dare had been made. I’m sporting. I’m game. I foraged around in the kitchen to see if I could come up with a meal’s worth of solar-cooked food.
I decided on making three dishes for dinner: a baked spinach, savory grains, and an apple dessert. Here are the recipes I followed.
Spinach Bake 2
10 ounces frozen spinach, defrosted and drained
2 Tablespoons Flax seed
2 Tablespoons Blue cheese, crumbled
1 whole egg
1/3 cup of egg whites
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 white pepper
Mix together. Lightly spray a cooking pan and place mixture in it.
1 cup kamut
3 cups homemade broth
Stirred together in a pot.
3 Apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix together and place in the bottom of a pre-cooking sprayed pan
1 cup Oatmeal
1/2 plain yogurt, homemade
1/4 cup Brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 freshly grated nutmeg
Mix together. Gently drop on top of apple mixture and spread to form an even layer.
The apple crisp and the spinach bake went into the solar box cooker. I placed the grains on the easily assembled solar windshield cooker. Out of curiosity, I placed a thermometer in the box cooker as well. Then I went about my business for the next 5 hours. I peeked in the solar box cooker occasionally and enjoyed reporting the temperature to Jim while we worked in the yard. It reached temperatures above 150 degrees F for a couple hours.
As we readied for dinner around 4pm, we decided that the grains just hadn’t had long enough to cook. It may have been that I used an unnecessarily large pot to cook a grain that I actually haven’t had a lot of experience with. No big deal– we refrigerated those to finish and enjoy with another meal. (Updated note: For Tuesday’s supper, I simmered them for half an hour more, and they were very good with our meal.)
Two out of three dishes turned out quite well. We enjoyed them with some salmon patties. The spinach bake was creamy and delicious. The apple crisp was yummy and fragrant. I appreciated how the apples were tender and thoroughly cooked, but not mushy.
It’s only March so we have many more sunny months to get reacquainted with the solar cookers. Jim has plans to make a detailed post about the construction of the box solar cooker since we realized recently that it is not something we’ve blogged about here. All summer long, we’ll be posting recipes, suggestions, and encouragement to give solar cooking a try. Solar cooking is a winner in terms of energy conservation, both in using the free energy of the sun to cook and also not heating up the house in the summer. Solar cooking is also an easy, low fuss and quite fun adventure.