6/25/15

The Best Beef and Vegetable Stew



Even though I think of a hearty beef and vegetable stew as a 'winter' food, for some reason I really, really wanted to make this yesterday.  It worked out perfectly though as it's about 100 degrees out this week and I was able to put this in the slow cooker and forget about it while it cooked away on the countertop and didn't heat up my kitchen.  I also used my solar oven to bake a loaf of bread so our dinner last night was not only delicious and filling but it cooked without my help or using the stove or oven!

This recipe is SO TASTY.  I apologized to my family a bit when I served it... I said, "I know stew is an old Grandma style recipe but...."  and I need not have bothered.  It was met not only with great enthusiasm, but the dish was scraped clean!

I did not have fresh carrots on hand - only about 1/4 cup leftover of the carrots I had dehydrated last month so that is why my photos don't show large, brightly colored carrot disks in them.  I also used my dehydrated sliced mushrooms and added them at the beginning of the cook time and we don't use corn very often in our home so I left that out.  Substitute as you need to or want to.


Beef and Vegetable Stew

3 c cubed, peeled potatoes
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, cubed
2 lb. steak or other beef, cubed or cut to about 1" pieces
2 T oil
3 T flour
2 beef bouillon cubes
2 c boiling water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
1 T prepared horseradish
1 T prepared mustard
1 T sugar
1 c peas
1 c corn
1 c fresh sliced mushrooms

Place the potatoes, carrots and onions in a slow cooker.  In a large skillet, brown the beef in oil.  Lay on the vegetables in the slow cooker.  Sprinkle with flour.  In a bowl, dissolve the bouillon cubes in the water and stir in the vinegar, ketchup, horseradish, mustard and sugar.  Pour over meat in the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high about 5 hours.  Add the peas and corn and mushrooms.  Cook an additional 45 minutes.  Makes about 5-6 servings.










Related products available at Amazon;

Crock-Pot Casserole Crock Slow Cooker, 3.5-Quart, Perfect Plum
Zatarain's Prepared Horseradish 5.25 Oz
Crock-Pot  3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker




   






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6/24/15

SOLAR OVENS: All American (previously Global), All Season, Sunflair, Sport Solar Oven (formally SOS Sport)


          

 
If you follow me on Twitter, you will probably notice I cook and bake in my solar oven very frequently.  Although I use it year round, I use it probably three times a week from May through September because I live in a region of the USA that the temperature hovers around 100 degrees and I love being able to cook and bake without heating up the house or using electricity when I know the grid is getting heavy use from all the homes A/C's and other appliances running.

I have thought for a couple years now I should put 'my' oven on a static page to let people know which one I personally use - but it was constantly pushed down the priority.  I've done posts about 'my' solar oven before but I have never made it its own stand alone page.  That is what I was determined to do tonight.

However, I decided to add more options because not only do readers need to compare and make up their minds on what style and brand is right for them; but I also realized I love my solar oven in part because it's the only one I've used!  I researched before I bought mine, and feel I made an excellent decision - but I've never used another brand so I'm not an expert on comparing the different cooking and baking styles between them!

So that my friends is how this page came about.



I am going to start off with the oven I own.  I bought this one (this page is not sponsored) a few years ago when they were still calling themselves "Global Sun Oven" - later changed to All American.   My version was literally just as they were coming out with the new style; but I got a good deal on mine as it was the 'older' style.  What does that mean?  It means they improved a couple tiny, teeny things like the stand is now a "T" shape instead of just a post and they are now bright blue as compared to black.  They also made the inside a bit larger so you can use a 9X13" pan and a couple other small improvements (read about them below in the product description).


Here is the one I own - complete with the accessory package.  It's about 24 pounds so you can't 'carry' it with you hiking or backpacking - but if you are tent camping and arriving in a vehicle, you can indeed take it with you. 







All American Sun Oven Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package
  • Lightweight, portable solar oven reaches 360-400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Includes: Dehydrating & Baking Rack Set, 2 Easy Stack Pots w/ lids, & 2 Loaf Pans
  • Oven is American made
  • Comes with eCookbook with 600 recipes

Product Description

For the past 28 years, SUN OVENS® have been widely used around the world in more than 126 countries and have become the world's most well-respected solar cooking appliance. The TOTALLY NEW All American SUN OVEN® combines the experience gained by cooking millions of meals with the distinctive American cooking needs and lifestyle to create a uniquely American SUN OVEN® which:
-Is 20% larger than prior model SUN OVENS® to cook a greater volume of food and accommodate many standard size baking pans.
-Takes the guesswork out of aligning with the sun.
-Has improved wind resistance.
-Boosts temperatures by 15% over prior models to cook more food in less time.
-Includes CD with hundreds of recipes& Emergency Preparedness Organizer CD and videos.

The TOTALLY NEW All American SUN OVEN® helps you harness the power of the sun. One source of power that never fails is the light of the sun. Whether you're dealing with a power outage or conserving energy, it lets you harness the power of the sun to cook without fuel. The TOTALLY NEW All American SUN OVEN® ...Lets You Create Your Favorite Recipes You can cook almost anything - breads, cakes, muffins, pizza, vegetables, poultry, fish, meats, casseroles, grains, pasta, and desserts, just to name a few. ...Provides High Cooking Temperatures Reach temperatures of 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which are more than sufficient to bake, boil, or steam your favorite foods. ...You Choose The Cooking Time: Fast or Slow Cooks within 20 minutes of conventional oven or stove top time, or lets you slow cook all day. ...Is Ruggedly Built It is a serious appliance that is made for years of trouble-free use.



Here is the same oven - without all the accessories, so it's a bit cheaper.


All American Sun Oven- The Ultimate Solar Appliance
  • Rust-proof, highly polished, mirror-like anodized aluminum reflectors
  • Sets up in minutes.
  • Lightweight with carry handle.
  • American made with uniquely American features!
  • Will reach temps of 360 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.


This is the All Season brand


All Season Solar Cooker and Trivet
  • This design will provide more cooked food on any solar day than any other cooker of similar size and design.
  • Light weight and portable, this cooker folds compactly for easy transportation to camp sites.
  • This is the ONLY panel/box hybrid cooker that can perfectly capture the sun from sunup to sundown.
  • Works any time of the day, any day of the year, anywhere on earth, as long as the sun is shining and Users of the All Season Solar Cooker can take full advantage of the sun, whenever the sun is available.
  • Easily prepares 3 or 4 different meals in a day and 2 to 3 quart capacity.


A Portable, Fold-able Version with cookware and thermometer



Sunflair Portable Solar Oven with Complete Cookware and Thermometer
  • #1 Portable Solar Oven from Alaska to Afghanistan! Cook from sun-up to sundown.
  • The most versatile solar oven on the market. Bake cookies or pizza. Dry fruits and herbs. Can accommodate a wide variety of cookware.
  • No assembly required. Easy to use. Sets up and stores in seconds.
  • Everything included to start cooking: 1 solar oven thermometer, 1 heat-conducting/baking tray, 1 baking/dehydrating rack, 2 silicone pots, and a handy carrying bag
  • Oven weighs only 1 lb, 2 oz! Durable and portable for Camping, Boating, RV-ing, Tailgating, Emergency Preparedness, Crafts: candle-making, modeling clay


A Portable, Fold-able Version with all the accessories including racks and cookware

Sunflair Portable Solar Oven Deluxe with Complete Cookware, Dehydrating Racks and Thermometer
  • #1 Portable Solar Oven from Alaska to Afghanistan! Cook from sun-up to sundown.
  • The most versatile solar oven on the market. Bake cookies or pizza. Dry fruits and herbs. Can accommodate a wide variety of cookware.
  • No assembly required. Easy to use. Sets up and stores in seconds.
  • Everything included to start cooking: 1 solar oven thermometer, 2 heat-conducting/baking trays, 2 baking/dehydrating racks, 1 enamelware pot, 2 silicone pots, and a handy carrying bag
  • Oven weighs less only 1 lb, 2 oz! Durable and portable for Camping, Boating, RV-ing, Tailgating, Emergency Preparedness, Crafts: candle-making, modeling clay

The Sport Solar Oven (formally known as the SOS Sport)
This is the one I was choosing between when I was making my final decision.  Between this one and the All American (Global) brand that I ultimately went with.



Sport Solar Oven Combo--Solar Oven, Solar Reflector, 2 Pots, Thermometer, Manual, Recipe Booklet, WAPI (Water Pasteurization Indicator) by Solavore [formerly SOS Sport]
  • The Sport is considered by many to be the premier solar cooker.
  • By cooking slowly, it preserves both flavor and nutrition. [like
  • a crock pot] It is designed to avoid burning food on a bright
  • sunny day. New products to suplement the Sport are being
  • devloped.







Related Products: 
Cooking with Sunshine: The Complete Guide to Solar Cuisine with 150 Easy Sun-Cooked Recipes
Solar Cooking for Home & Camp
Solar Cooking


     




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6/22/15

Easy and Delicious No Work Crockpot Homemade Applesauce!


For some reason Google did not cache this recipe and it doesn't come up in my site search on the right hand side of this page.  I know this because I've tried to quickly look for this recipe TWICE in the last 2 weeks and it wasn't there.  So I am going to RE POST IT and hopefully google will love it as much as my family does... because I cannot keep this on hand in our family!  Seriously...  my husband is like a sad little 6 year old when he finds out he finished off the last container of it.




I now keep this on hand constantly.  CONSTANTLY.  But it's SO EASY and no work that it's not a big deal.  I simply wash a bunch of apples, cut them up and core them, dump them all into a crock pot and pour a tiny bit of water in it, a bit of lemon juice, add 1 stick of cinnamon and a tiny bit of sweetener (a tablespoon or two) and then I put the lid on and FORGET ABOUT IT.  FOR HOURS.

And when my house smells really good, I remember the apples... I check on them and they are mushy, so I plop them into a food processor and pulse... and pour them into containers.  Sometimes they go into the refrigerator and other times I take a half hour longer to 'can' them in a water bath so I can store them in the pantry instead.

I've taken to putting these into pint sized jars - perfect size for my husband to eat in one sitting and he can take them in his lunch.

***You don't have to add sugar because it's sweet enough as it is, and because if you use it to bake with later on, you don't want all that 'extra' sweetness to ruin your dish.  Do a taste test.  I ended up putting a little bit of natural sweetener in this batch, (about 1 T) along with about 1 1/2 T Baked Right natural sweetener with cinnamon because my husband eats our applesauce - I don't cook or bake with it.  I canned this batch but you don't have to.  You can just put it in the refrigerator and eat it up!


Homemade Applesauce

4 lbs apples (about 10 medium of any variety reds you have on hand)
About 1/3 - 1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
3 pint canning jars with lids and bands
optional:  sweetener and/or cinnamon (I used some Just Like Sugar Baked Right Baked Right!)


You can peel the apples if you wish but the peels add color and nutrients to the applesauce and they get very soft during cooking so they are easily mashed in.  I just wash mine and then use an apple corer/slicer to core and cut them into wedges with one push.  Using this I have about 4 pounds of apples cored, sliced and into a crock pot in about 2-3 hours.  I just put them in and forget about them - and a couple hours later, open it, stir, and see if they are soft.  Your brand and size slowcooker is going to make a difference in how long they cook as well as the variety of apple you are using, how hard/crisp they are and how old they are.

Combine the apples with just enough water to coat the bottom of your crockpot or slowcooker so they don't stick.  Cover and heat on high for about 2-ish hours depending on your brand, size and style slow cooker.  Do not let them burn, but turn it off when the apples are soft.  You can also cook them on the stove if you wish.  On the stove, add enough water so the bottom of the pan is covered and the apples won't stick or burn.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Immediately educe heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 20 minutes, until apples are tender. Remove from heat and let cool about 5 minutes.

Get your canning supplies ready.  The jars should be clean and hot; kept in simmering water until you need them.  The rings and lids clean and hot. Have a pot on the stove with water ready to process them in boiling water.

Working in batches depending on the size of your food processor, process them on pulse with the S-blade until just smooth.  Don't over process.
 
Place apple mixture in a saucepan. Add lemon juice. Bring to a simmer slash boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.  You can add a bit of cinnamon or nutmeg if you wish too!

Ladle the applesauce into hot jars leaving 1/2 inch head space. Remove air bubbles by sliding a butter knife or skinny spatula around the jar and jiggling it a little to settle the sauce. Wipe the rim with a clean, damp rag or paper towel. Center lid on jar. Screw on the band just to hold the lid in place, not too tight.

Water bath process the jars in a boiling water for 20 minutes. Remove jars and let set on the counter to cool slowly. The lids should all be sealed down tight and not 'give' when pressed in the center with your finger or thumb.  That's it!  You're done.

*You can use citric acid or something like Fruit Fresh to help preserve the lighter color but I didn't on this batch.  You could mix about 1/2 teaspoon citric acid with the water before adding to the apples to cook.






Use a mixture of apples of different varieties for the best flavor.  Don't use green apples or Granny Smith though.


If you own one of these, you can have them sliced and cored in minutes.  You can peel them if you wish! I don't.


Throw them in a crock pot or saucepan on the stove with a little water.  That's it!



When they are tender and break apart easily, it's time to mash them or process them.  As chunky or smooth as you like.


I use a processor and pulse it a few times.  You can mash by hand though.


I added some sweetener and cinnamon to this batch - my husbands favorite.


You can make it very smooth, semi smooth, or leave it chunky.  Whatever you like.


Refrigerate it... or can it.  This batch makes 3 pints with just a little left over (the white dish in the photo above was the leftover after canning).

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