Friday, May 13, 2011

Solar Season

Some days our "May Gray" overcast really puts a damper on my solar cooking. But other days, it's golden. Even if the weather isn't really warm, bright sun can get the solar cooker to 300 degrees, from as early as 10 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon during the summer months (but 10 to 2, and only about 275 degrees, in the winter.)

We recently inherited about a half ton (and I mean that literally) of wheat from a friend who was cleaning out her mother's food storage. It's a bit stale for making bread, but it makes good chicken feed. At least, it does if it is cooked. What better way than putting it in the solar oven (with equal parts water) for a few hours? Let it cool, then toss it on the lawn for the yard birds.

Next up was granola. My teen has recently decided that this is his favorite after-school snack. The ingredients are cheap, but granola sucks a lot of electricity for the hour it has to toast in the oven. As a low-temperature recipe, however, it's perfect for the solar cooker. It does require hands-on time; the solar cooker has a small internal cavity, so I have to break the granola into two batches, and it has to be stirred every 20 minutes. Two hours tending the cooker means Solar granola is only for the seriously stay-at-home.

Last item of the day was a pan of caramel cinnamon rolls. I like giving them to the kids for breakfast once in awhile (they're 50% whole wheat and light on the caramel, so they're not too awful for breakfast food). That requires that I make them the day before- I'm not the kind of mom who thinks getting up at 5 to allow fresh pastries to rise in time for breakfast is the best way to show love. Nope. Not doin' it that way.

Although the recipe calls for a 375 degree oven, cooking them at 300 worked fine. Well, it would have, if I had left them in long enough. Jon wanted to go run some errands that required my presence, so I took them out at 45 minutes. Next time, gotta go for the full hour. The outer ones were fine, but the inner ones were doughy. Tasted good, though.

Shame I had to go to the bank that day. I think I could have done a quiche with the daylight that was still left. Oh, well, the sun will rise tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. When I do cinnamon rolls, I make them the day before, let them cold rise in the fridge overnight, and then have them warm up a bit on the counter while the oven is heating. They do need to cook longer as they are usually still cold when they go in the oven and the yeast still needs to be good (not so so), but otherwise it seems to work well.