It’s easy to improvise with solar cooking

I baked BBQ tempeh using a brown glass baking dish and a large black enamel pot lid to darken the top of the baking dish and thereby absorb more heat. It worked well. You do not need special cooking pots and pans to solar cook.

It’s time to create a sustainable culture

https://karenretra.com/home/solar-cooking-resources-and-photos.html

What if there was a year-round method of cooking that was low cost, powered by sunlight, non-polluting, and easy to do even in college dorms, apartment balconies and off-the-grid locations? There is: solar cooking.

In the 21st century, the need for sustainable cooking solutions is great, including fossil fuel-caused climate change, the end of cheap oil, and deforestation due to firewood collection. Whether you spend a couple of hours building a simple solar cooker out of cardboard and foil, or buy a sturdy commercial model, it is possible to do everything from simmering to blanching, poaching, steaming, sautéing, braising, baking, roasting, toasting, pan frying, grilling, food canning, medical sterilization, and even making ice (at night!).

My book includes the following information:

  • How to choose the right solar cooker for you based on your climate and lifestyle needs
  • More than 100 vegetarian solar recipes and tips
  • How to adapt slow cooker recipes to a solar cooker
  • How to adapt your favorite recipes to a solar cooker
  • How to safely can foods using USDA canning guidelines
  • How to create a year-round sustainable cooking system that combines the use of solar cookers, fireless cookers, pressure cookers, and biomass-fueled stoves and earth ovens
  • Solar cookers can cook anything

    Adapted from The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century:

    It is possible to use a solar cooker for everything from simmering to blanching, poaching, steaming, sautéing, braising, baking, roasting, toasting, grilling, barbecuing and pan frying. Most of these methods can be done in a box cooker. A few require the extra high temperatures only achievable with a parabolic reflector.

    The foods above include chocolate tofu pie with a gluten free almond crust, baked kabocha squash, barbecued tempeh made with home canned barbecue sauce, minestrone soup with beans precooked in the solar oven, steamed corn on the cob, home grown rhubarb crumble, and whole wheat sourdough raisin bread. Enter “raynersolar” into my “Search Lisa’s Blog“ search box to see all of my original solar cooking blog posts (not reblogs). Use my Google search box to look up specific foods and dishes.

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner
    www.etsy.com/shop/LifeweaverLLC

    Nov. 18, 2015

    Solar baked apple crumble

    I baked an apple crumble with apples from the big stainless steel bowl of “triage” apples from last weekend’s urban apple picking adventure. I partially baked the bottom crust, then layered on the filling and reserved crust topping and put the covered casserole dish back in my solar oven to finish baking. My recipe is in my book The Natural Canning Resource Book: A guide to home canning with locally-grown, sustainably-produced and fair-trade foods (pictured). In my solar cookbook The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century I have recipes for a mesquite crumble and a fruit cobbler.

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner

     

    Solar baked sourdough artisan rolls

    I made a little extra whole wheat artisan dough (flour, water, sourdough starter) when I made a loaf of bread; sourdough starter is very flexible. After the bench rest, I used my bench knife to cut the dough into 12 pieces (I ran out of freshly ground flour and used unbleached flour for this part). I moistened my hands and carefully handled each roll, adding some olive oil to keep in the moisture in my arid climate. After letting the rolls rise, I baked them in my solar cooker with a black cover to help soak up additional sunlight. During the last third of baking, I removed the cover to lightly brown the crust and make it crunchy, like artisan rolls, rather than soft and fluffy like solar pull-apart rolls.

    Adapted from Wild Bread: Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen and The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century.

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner

    Solar baked almond flour pie crust with chocolate tofu cream filling

    This super easy nut flour pie crust recipe is in The Sunny Side of Cooking solar cookbook. I mixed almond flour with a little organic evaporated cane juice and melted vegan butter (melted dairy butter and coconut oil work too). Then I pressed the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and baked the crust, covered, in my Global Sun Oven for 25 minutes. After the crust was cool, I poured in a blend of silken tofu, melted chocolate chips, evaporated cane juice, a banana, and cocoa powder. I drizzled a melted chocolate chip-honey sauce over the pie and then arranged the organic raspberries on top. I refrigerated the pie until the filling was set. Use this crust for any filling that does not need baking. Other nut flours work well, too.

    Solar baked no-boil Mexican lasagna

    Dan and I made lasagna with my homegrown, homemade tomato sauce. I created my own vegan recipe that combines tomato sauce with enchilada sauce and Italian seasoning a number of years ago. The recipe appears in The Sunny Side of Cooking solar cookbook. The sauce is extra-thin to provide water for the unboiled noodles (the regular kind, not the pre-boiled kind, although you could use those, too). The filling is a stir-fry of garlic, mushrooms, red bell pepper, kale, and crumbled tofu seasoned with soy sauce. As with my sourdough pizza recipe, we use Daiya Pepperjack vegan cheese.

    At my elevation of 7,000 feet, a 9-inch x 13-inch pan of lasagna cooks in about 2 ½ hours in my Global Sun Oven (it takes 1 ½ hours to bake in a conventional oven preheated to 350°F). I place a dark tray underneath the pan to catch drips and keep my oven clean.

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.etsy.com/shop/LifeweaverLLC

    Mesquite, a desert Southwest food source

    First three photos: Mesquite trees and the desert mountain view at the Sunset Point rest stop on I-17 a little north of the Valley of the Sun.

    Adapted from Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

    Mesquite trees grow next to the parking lot and picnic area of the rest stop. Mature, dried mesquite beans and pods are ground whole make a naturally sweet, gluten free flour for baking. The beans provide protein, while the sugary carbohydrates filling the pods add a molasses-like flavor. If mesquite is not a native tree for you, you can order mesquite pod flour seasonally in the fall and winter from the nonprofit seed bank Native Seeds/SEARCH; they also sell mesquite cookie and pancake mixes year-round and a mesquite cookbook.

    Adapted from The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century:

    Solar apple mesquite crumble
    Slice apples less than ¼-inch thick for faster solar cooking. Softer fruits can be left in bigger slices. Bake the crumble in a conventional oven at 350 F for about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on your elevation.                        4–8 servings

    Apple mixture
    3–4 cups sliced apples, other tree fruit or whole cherries
    2 tablespoons granulated sugar

    Crumble topping
    ½ cup mesquite flour
    ¼ cup granulated sugar (optional)
    1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
    1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
    ¼ cup canola oil or melted butter/vegan butter/coconut oil

    1. Mix fruit and sweetener and spread in a lightly greased
    3-liter black granite ware roaster.
    2. Mix together the crust ingredients and crumble over the fruit.
    3. Cover and bake 1 ½ hours until topping is lightly browned.

    Bottom photo: A rainbow in the desert looking south of I-10 at the southern end of the Phoenix area. The temperature reached 104°F before a light rain fell near sunset, the perfect conditions for a rainbow to form. Notice that it is a double rainbow (the second, fainter one is to the right of the main one).

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner

    Home grown, solar baked strawberry rhubarb crumble

    My two rhubarb plants have finally grown big enough for some light harvesting (the plants are one year old). You can also see the greywater pipe coming out of the house wall and into the barberry shrubs.

    I collected enough stalks to make 2 cups of chopped rhubarb. I added 1/2 cup of my home canned strawberry jam for flavor and sugar and a little rice starch to complete the filling.

    I used the “Any Fruit Crumble” recipe in my book The Natural Canning Resource Book: A guide to home canning with locally-grown, sustainably-produced and fair trade foods. (In The sunny Side of Cooking I have “Any Fruit Cobbler” and “Mesquite Crumble” recipes). The crumble recipe uses vegan butter, oatmeal, chopped walnuts (or pecans, etc.), and a little flour and baking soda.

    Adapted from The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century:

    After reserving 1 cup of the dough for sprinkling on top, I patted the rest into a 9-inch diameter cobalt blue glass pie dish. I placed a granite ware lid from a 4.5 liter roaster I no longer have; I kept the lid because it fits perfectly on the pie dish and my large stainless steel pot that I sometimes use in my Global Sun Oven.

    I baked the bottom crust in the preheated Sun Oven for 30 minutes. Then I brought the dish back into the kitchen, spread on the rhubarb filling, and crumbled on the remaining crumble topping, then patting it down. I put the black lid back on top and finished baking the crumble in my solar oven for 1 hour.

    Solar-baked pies work best when the bottom crust is partially or fully pre-baked, depending on the recipe. It is also best in many climates to make a crumble top crust or arrange flour-and-fat pie dough lattice strips on top to ensure the entire pie is fully baked through the center. Otherwise, regular pie dough insulates the filling, preventing it from heating through properly. Regular pies with only a few slits in the top crust require a very sunny day near the summer solstice and a multiple-panel reflector oven.

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner

    Solar Any Fruit Crumble recipe

    This is my LAST jar of apple sauce from urban foraging during the last good apple year. I make chunky apple sauce with the skins left on. I added a little honey, and in the batch, cinnamon, to the apple sauce.

    This recipe is in my book The Natural Canning Resource Book: A guide to home canning with locally-grown, sustainably-produced and fair trade foods. The crust is made with (vegan) butter, granulated cane sugar (I used evaporated cane juice), rolled oats, unbleached sugar, baking soda and chopped nuts (I used walnuts. Pecans are my favorite in this recipe). First I creamed the butter and sugar (I used a fork), the I mixed in the other ingredients. I reserved one cup of crust for the top and patted the remainder into a cobalt blue nine-inch glass pie dish (plenty dark enough for solar baking). I baked the bottom crust 30 minutes. Then I spread on the apple sauce, sprinkled on more cinnamon and crumbled on the top crust. I then baked the crumble for one hour, until lightly browned.

    Adapted from The Sunny Side of Cooking: Solar cooking and other ecologically friendly cooking methods for the 21st century:

    Solar-baked pies and pie-like dishes work best is the crust is partially or fully prebaked before the filling is added. Lattice and crumble toppings are also good choices. Cover and bake an empty crust for 45 minutes–1 hour, until lightly browned. Add filling, cover and bake until filling is set. The baking time for double-crust pies is significantly longer and is best done near the summer solstice around noon. My book contains recipes for crumbles, pot pies, fruit pies, cobblers, pastries and nut flour pie crusts, as well as biscuit and scone doughs that can be used as pie toppings and crusts.

    www.LisaRayner.com
    www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner