5/22/22

Solar Cooking in My Sun Oven - everything from pies and cakes to muffins, cookies, beef, pork, chicken, casseroles and well... anything!

 


I have been cooking in my SunOven for almost ten (10) years or so - and mentioning it in posts on this website for pretty much all those years!  I realized that when I mentioned it on my Instagram feed today, a lot of my followers may be too new to know I use solar cooking; or may want more information or ideas for what they can make in it now that many seem to be looking at items for alternative ways to cook or bake.

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.  It's used for  everything from roasted chicken, roasts, pork roast, beef casseroles, lasagnas, bbq pork and French  Dips, to breads, muffins, pies, cakes and cookies.

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 neighborhood home A/C's and other appliances running during the hot summer.

I originally thought I'd find all my previous posts and list them here but you guys - there are more than I thought!  I'm just going to leave the ones I started to post but tell you, at the top of the page there is a SEARCH feature - just pop in a 'solar oven' or similar phrase and you can see them all.  

*NOTE: Some product links might be old and outdated as they are from 2012-2019.   Glancing over old posts, I see that Amazon currently is sold out or not selling the particular one I bought as I think the company is swamped (?) but the links will still lead you to search for other brands and styles that are still available to purchase through Amazon.  I did note my brand oven looks like it might still be available direct from the official company website although I'm not a direct affiliate of theirs (I should be though!  I've just never applied to their program...).


 

Some random items I make in the solar oven......





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5/13/22

Homemade Canned Salsa and How to Quick Dry Fresh Basil

 

 

If you planted basil this spring, it's probably already 'ready' because it's one of the easiest herbs to grow and grows so well and so fast!  I have done a few posts on it already and don't need to reinvent the wheel again but the photo above is a link to one of those posts if you are interested.

Another recipe posted many times on my site since I started it in 2006 is our family favorite canned salsa.  We have 3 salsa recipes we tend to like and make often; this recipe (below) is the one I use for canning and have for over 20 years now.




Homemade Salsa


10 Cups of peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
5 c chopped onions
3 sweet banana peppers, diced
4 jalapenos, seeded and diced
2 t minced garlic
1 green pepper, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1 1/4 c vinegar
2 T chili powder
2 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cayenne pepper
1 T sugar

To peel/skin your tomatoes easily just put them in boiling water. Skins will split in 10 seconds - 2 minutes. Remove as soon as the skin splits and lay on a clean towel to cool until you can handle them comfortably - or you can dip them into a bowl of ice water if you wish. Some tomatoes won't split but they are still ready;  if it has been in the water for over a minute, lift it out and look at it and feel it. If it looks tight and ready to burst, yet it feels like a water balloon, then remove it to cool. It's ready.  The second your fingers or a knife touch the skin it will probably split on contact.  Tomatoes can be seeded and the juice canned separately or you can use the whole tomato in your salsa and skip that process.  Up to you.

Mix all the ingredients for your salsa and simmer 1-3 hours.

While simmering, be sure to either run your jars and lids and seals through an extra hot dishwasher cycle or boil them in another pot of water so they are hot and sterilized when you are ready to use them.  Ladle salsa into the jars with about 1/2 inch head space at the top.   Wipe the edges completely clean with a clean cloth and place the lid on it and then the ring.  You don't have to tighten them hard - just a quick twist to hold the seal/lid on during the process.  Simmer them in a water bath for 25 minutes for pints, 35 for quarts.   (Originally this old time recipe did not call for a water bath.  The heat from the salsa and the jar will seal the lid.  However, I always water bath can them.)

Remove from the water, set on a towel on the counter and let them cool at room temperature.  You will hear popping noises.  That is the lids sealing.  When completely cooled, store in your pantry or cupboard. 

 

 

 

 

 

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5/9/22

Vintage Recipes: Boston Brown Bread and Recipes for using Canned Beef

I have an old, vintage recipe book put out by Arm & Hammer Soda, which includes this Boston Brown Bread that uses a mixture of Indian meal (corn meal), graham flour, rye flour and wheat flour. 

 



And... canned beef recipes

This pamphlet was originally put out to help homemakers in 1934 by the Bureau of Home Economics - US Dept. of Agriculture.  The Federal Surplus Relief Corporation had been created the year before to distribute excess food commodities to people who needed it rather than continue the waste of livestock and food which the government was doing to try to boost the prices on the market.  The public outrage (and rightly so!) about the surplus being destroyed when so many people needed it, led to the government distributing it to the poor.  

The canned beef was 'new' to so many households, they needed ideas on what to do with it.  This pamphlet from 1934 gave the homemaker recipes to use the canned beef in.

Beef and Turnip Pie, Beef Scallop, Tamale Pie, Hot Beef and Onion Sandwich, Panned Cabbage and Corned Beef... so many vintage recipes to try!





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Vintage Recipes: Tomato Butter (an early version of ketchup) and Vinegars! Cider vinegar, potato vinegar and corn vinegar!

Some of my favorite cookbooks are old... really old.  I even have one published in 1910.  
 
Most of my vintage cookbooks were handed down to me from my Grandmother, including her handwritten recipe notebooks from high school when she would listen to the radio 'cooking' chat shows and copy down recipes they featured.  (Back in the 1920's - 1940's homemaking 'cooking and chat' radio shows were popular for Midwest housewives and young women to listen to, copy recipes and household hints from and connect with other women 'chit-chatting' about whatever the radio hostess felt like talking about that day - the farm, children, husbands, neighbors, church, crafts, animals, etc.)  

These days it's also fun and easy to find old cookbooks online, digitally kept and free as they are no longer under copyrights (although, sadly many of these free old books are offered as printed copies for exorbitant amounts of money by unscrupulous people on sites like Amazon who simply download the text versions from online educational library's and Gutenberg Project, and run them through a printer and sell it.)  
 
 

 
While reading one of my old 'War Foods' (1917)  cookbooks, I came across "TOMATO BUTTER" - which is simply a very early recipe for homemade ketchup. 
Tomato Butter Scald and plunge into cold water eight pounds of ripe tomatoes; peel, and add four pounds of sugar and one pint of vinegar; boil till they begin to thicken, then add one teaspoonful of cloves, one tablespoonful of mace» two tablespoonfuls of cinnamon, one teaspoonful of allspice. Cook till very thick, being careful not to burn. Spoon measurements should be level.

I currently make my own apple scrap vinegar and usually have a new batch going at all times, so I was interested when I came to the part about homemade vinegars and saw options for... potato vinegar and corn vinegar!?   (Note:  this image comes from a G**gle version which doesn't actually scan the pages (which is my favorite) but the scans are computerized so the text is often wrought with errors as the computer doesn't recognize individual letters but makes a 'guess' and prints out what it thinks it's seeing.  
 
It's very easy to figure out the words, but I just wanted to note why potato looks like paUdo for example.  A human would read the "tat" while the computer sees "U". 
 


Cider Vinegar

Put cider in a barrel or keg.  The bung-hole must be left open and protected from insects by tacking a piece of cheesecloth over it.  Keep in a moderately warm place.  It will be ready for use in from four to six months.  If a very strong vinegar is desired, add 3 tablespoons brown sugar to each gallon.

Potato Vinegar

To two gallons of water that potatoes have been boiled in, add one pound brown sugar and one cake of yeast dissolved in a little warm water.  Keep in a warm place for 3 or 4 weeks.  There should be a chance for it to ferment.  If it is in a jug, the cork must be left out and a piece of cheesecloth tied over the top of the jug.  It is said cucumbers cut fresh from the vine will keep in this vinegar without salt.

Corn Vinegar

Add to one gallon of water one pint of brown sugar, and one pint of corn cut from the cob.  Put it in a jar and cover with a cloth; set in the sun for 3 weeks and the vinegar will be ready for use.





Source:  War food; practical and economical methods of keeping vegetables, fruits and meats - published in 1917.











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5/6/22

A Double Subject Recipe Post for a great Keto Garlic Roll - but also Using Food Storage - Dehydrated Eggs and Buttermilk Powder

 

 

This was going to be a post to save a good recipe for a simple keto - low carb garlic roll but it ends up being a 'double subject' post as I also decided to do a trial with emergency storage food dehydrated eggs we have on hand, as well as buttermilk powder to see what the results would be.  Primarily it's a good garlic keto roll, but the secondary recipe note is that I can safely say it can be made with powdered eggs and powdered buttermilk if you don't have fresh eggs or buttermilk on hand!

For those of you who do not choose to use food storage items, obviously the recipe is originally made for fresh items.

Keto Garlic Rolls

3 c shredded mozzarella cheese
4 oz. cream cheese
2 eggs
2 1/4 c almond flour
1/4 c coconut flour
1/4 c buttermilk
2 T fresh minced garlic
1 1/2 T dried parsley flakes
1 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt

In a microwavable bowl, place the mozzarella cheese and cream cheese.  Microwave it 1-2 minutes until it's soft and melty. Place the melted cheeses in a a food processor bowl with an S-blade, and add the rest of the ingredients.

Pulse until it's combined and all comes together into a ball of dough.  Scoop even amounts out and roll into balls.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  I used a 2" scoop for the rolls in the photos.  

Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown (about 15-18 minutes but depends on the size rolls you made).  Let them cool on the baking sheet for 4-5 minutes before moving to a wire rack or serving.  If you move them before that they will tend to fall apart easily.  Give them a few minutes to set up.

The food storage items I used were powdered eggs and buttermilk powder. In the future I might also do a trial using freeze dried mozzarella but it's so expensive to purchase that I hate to open a can just for recipe trials I'm unsure of.  If I use it for pizza or lasagna and have a can already opened I'll go ahead and do some testing and come back to report!

 

 The dough in the food processor....



My powdered (dehydrated style) eggs.  Note these eggs have been in storage for about 10 or 11 years.  I just opened the sealed pouch and since I'll be using them regularly to use them up in the next month or two, they are now in a sealed canning jar for regular use in the pantry.


Made into rolls



The powdered eggs and powdered buttermilk seemed to keep them from rising like fresh eggs would so they are a little more dense and not as fluffy, but still very, very good and did rise somewhat.


I served these with keto lasagna the first night, and homemade beef stew the second.  The few remaining were spread with a garlic cheese spread and placed under the broiler for a few minutes before being eaten for lunch (by me).


 

 

Products related to this post:  if you are interested in storing eggs for future meals there are a lot of different options, but two of those are dehydrated or freeze-dried.  Both are available through Amazon if you are a regular Amazon shopper and would prefer to shop there.  LINK:  Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried Eggs

This recipe also uses Almond Flour  and Buttermilk Powder 








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5/4/22

Keto Chili... review of using Eden Organic Black Soy Beans in my regular chili


Some people don't believe chili should have beans, others don't believe chili should be made without them.  I'm of that camp.  I've never been happy with 'keto' or 'low carb' chili because I miss beans in it.  Usually I make the decision to have a carb binge and use the beans if I'm craving chili, because yes, chili needs beans!

So enter these... difficult to find, but I finally prioritized them in our food budget and ordered 6 cans online.  A GAME CHANGER FOR US.

They are Eden brand black soy beans.  Not 'black beans' (totally different bean) but black soy beans. Eden Black Soybeans are organic and U.S. family grown.  They are soaked overnight, and pressure cooked with kombu seaweed at their certified organic, (and kosher) cannery. 

Total carbs are 11 grams but 6 of that is fiber.  Adding one or two cans in your entire pot of chili makes this totally doable.  

When it comes to chili I generally have a basic starting point with ingredients and amounts, which I've been making this way literally since the day we were married - but always 'add' and 'delete' and play with it based on what I have on hand, what I want to use up, etc.  I like to use sausage and diced beef or leftover steak in mine because I really (really) don't like chunks of browned ground beef.  I have hated it my entire life (and used to get in BIG trouble for picking it out of my chili, beef stew and taco salads when I was a kid).  So - you do you.  Use ground beef if you wish!  Play with it.  But the point is - these Eden Black Soybeans are AWESOME IN IT. 

I open the 2 cans of beans, put them into a wire colander and run them under cold water to rinse them, and then dump them in.  Taste and feel like regular chili beans.

 

Eden Black Soybeans in our low carb recipes... a game changer for chili

 Here they are, rinsed and ready to be dumped in.


A close up of Eden Black Soybeans

Leftover steak to use in our chili...  I often make an extra piece or two just FOR chili later that week!

 
This is a low carb and/or regular chili but if you need to make it even less carbs to fit into your counts, leave the onions and green peppers out - you could substitute some onion powder to help, which still has carbs but less than a whole, regular onion. 
 
Chili
 
1 lb. ground beef or diced beef of choice, or even leftover beef or steak
4 or 5 slices bacon, diced or cut (or a handful of 'real' bacon crumble pieces like Hormel brand)
1/2 lb. sausage - Italian - mild, spicy - it's up to you (or just use ground pork for really mild chili, or leave it out completely and just add a little more ground beef)
1 large onion (or 2 medium), diced
1 small/medium green pepper, diced
2-4 t fresh minced garlic
1 can mild green chilies
2 t Worcestershire Sauce
1 T chili powder
1/2 T cumin powder
salt and pepper
2 cans Eden Black Soybeans (rinsed) - or regular chili beans (not rinsed) if you aren't low carb
2 cans 14/15 oz. diced tomatoes or 1 large 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
*optional but good if you don't care about carbs - 1 can refried beans

Brown the bacon, add the sausage/meats to brown with the onions and green pepper.  Add the seasonings.  Dump all into a stock pot or a crock pot (or instant pot) with the beans and tomato products.

Simmer from 3-4 hours to all day to cook or use a faster chili setting on the instant pot if you  need to serve faster.

 
Here is a quick snap on my phone of everything I dumped in the Instant Pot
and cooked on low as a slow cooker or crock pot all day.
 


  

 

THE BEANS:  I looked everywhere locally where I live and no grocery stores carried these.   Just regular high carb 'black beans' and turtle beans, etc.  So I finally gave up and gave into spending the money to buy them online.  

I regularly order from 3 places anyway that HAD THEM.  One is Swanson Vitamins, the other was Netrition (where i get most of my low carb, sugarfree and keto foods) and of course, Amazon.  If you are interested, here are links to them through my links at Netrition and Amazon.

 

 

 Black Soy Beans Eden Foods Black Soy Beans at Netrition


  

 


 

 

Eden Organic Black Soybeans at Amazon







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