Thursday, September 10, 2009

Solar Cooking

Ari asked me to post this here, but I also posted it on my new, more baby centered blog, Boat Mama,  You are welcome to keep up with our silly baby posts there.  They are mostly intended for those who want to know what our daughter is wearing at all times.  If you happen to be one of the three people that read this blog we didn't know if you needed that much baby all the time.

Anyways, Ari bought us a solar cooker a few weeks ago.  He found it on some boat website I think (perhaps Ari can fill in the details).  It is called Hot Pot and comes with a metal reflector and a glass bowl and lid that a black bowl fit inside.  So far it has just been taking up space on our boat.  In fact, Ari was quite surprised when I used it today.  In his own words he said, "I just assumed you thought it was another one of my crazy ideas."  Well, it was not a crazy idea at all.  More like a miracle in cooking.
I decided to start with something simple and that would not be inedible if it didn't really cook all the way.  I picked veggies enchiladas as my first solar cooking project.  (To be honest I have made some kind of solar cookies at some workshop I went to, but I was only sort of involved.)  True to my boat cooking principles I like to see how many "bilge ingredients," canned goods, I can use in a recipe.   These enchiladas are about half from the bilge, half fresh.  I did not use the pickled asparagus in the end because I felt like it was plenty of food, but I know it would have been great too.  I took maybe five minutes of prep including cutting the mushrooms, broccoli, cheese, and red peppers, and then making the layers.  The five minutes of prep puts it in a special category of good boat cooking in my mind.
We had some errands to do during the day and I intended the enchiladas to be dinner.  The recipe I used as a guide suggested two hours of cooking.  The book also suggested that you can sort of use the sun as a timer and turn the solar cooker so that when you put it out the sun is not directly hitting the cooker and it is turned towards where the sun will be when you really want it to start cooking.  So, I put it out about 11:30am (see the first close up of the cooker) and turned it so that it would be in direct sun what I guessed would be a few hours later.  We returned from errands around 3:30pm and Ari was already hungry because he had gone without lunch.  The enchiladas looked cooked and when we took off the lid they smelled yummy and I stuck my finger in and it was HOT!  (I want to buy a little thermometer that I can just put in there with the food.)  The cheese on top was starting to brown and the top tortillas were a little crispy.  I was surprised how wet the bottom layer was, but I read that all the water will come out of the veggies in the cooking process.  The lid is tight so none of it evaporates.I served it up with sour cream and salsa.  Ari said it was the best, and only, solar cooked meal he has ever had.  And it really was great.  A few bites were too hot to eat with out blowing on themwhich really surprised me.  I will definitely make solar enchiladas again.
In case you want to do some solar cooking of your own here is my recipe for what it is worth.  But, I recommend using what ever you have in your bilge. And for you land lubbers out there I sure your cupboard has some cans dying to be used as well.

Solar Veggie Enchiladas

5 Corn tortillas (I recommend 6, but that was all we had)
1 small can green chillies
1 small can enchilada sauce
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/2 jar roasted red peppers (about equal to one red pepper)
4 brown mushrooms
1 small bunch of broccoli
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
SalsaSour Cream

Cut up all veggies and cheese into small pieces.  Lay down two tortillas in bowl.  Put half of each of the veggies in a layer in top.  Pour over half the enchilada sauce and sprinkle on one third of the cheese.  Lay down two more tortillas.  Layer on the rest of the veggies, pour on the rest of the sauce, saving just a little to go over the top, and one third of the cheese.  Lay down the last two tortillas and sprinkle on the remainder of the cheese and enchilada sauce.  Place solar cooker in the sun for 2 hours or more until the cheese is melted and browning and the inside is hot.  Serve with salsa and sour cream.


capndeb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
capndeb said...

ummmm, looks AND smells delicious!

subgenius said...

I'm just acquiring the materials to make a solar cooker - old satellite dish, bond a sheet of mylar to it and place a pot/grill holder where the microwave receiver used to be... will let you know how it goes!

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Zen said...

Where do I get one? or the parts?

Zen said...

foudn one

Watson said...

Good post! I had twenty cups to cook, in hindsight I should've cooked no more than ten at a time. Ten cups of rice is much more manageable than twenty and makes finding an appropriate sized pan more likely as well. Thanks :)