"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Solar cooking - part 2

Yesterday I made RMan and RSons' dinner in the solar oven :

Beef Shin with beans and lentils

The night before I rinsed 1/2 cup lentils until the water ran clear and then I placed them in a container with enough water to cover.  Then placed 1/2 cup of haricot beans in a pot on the stove with 1 cup of water and boiled them for 5 minutes.  I then added the lentils to the par boiled beans, covered the pot and set it aside to soak overnight.

I placed the beans and lentils in a black pot and added 1 X 115gm tin of tomato paste, adding 2 extra tins of plain water.  1 tbsp mixed herbs, 1 tsp garlic flakes and 1 crumbled beef stock cube was added and mixed together. (For a hotter, spicy dish the optional extra spices to add are: 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp crushed coriander seeds and 1 tsp chilli powder)

I removed the bones from 680 gms of beef shin and added the bones to the pot – the marrow in the bones will assist in providing a tasty gravy. I then cut the meat into 2cm cubes and added that to the pot.

3 X carrots were peeled and sliced and I roughly chopped 3 X large tomatoes. (If using potatoes, just wash and cut them to the required size – there is no need to peel.) On top of the beans / lentils I added the meat, then placing the vegetables on top of the meat - to cover it.

The pot was covered and placed in the solar oven which had been pre-heated to 130 – 140oC.

(If you find the gravy is a little thin, blend 1 – 2 tsp of maizena / cornflour with water and add to the stew 2 hours after placing the pot in the oven.  Allow to continue cooking for another 1 - 2 hours.)

Ensure that your pot faces the sun for at least 3 - 4 hours, and that the temperature inside the oven is above 120oC. This dish should cook for 3 hours – but all day will also do – it will not burn – the meat will just get more tender the longer it cooks.  Sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.

I added a pot of rice (in boiling water) to the solar oven and let that cook for an hour - it was perfect rice with no starchy stickiness clumping the lot together - that is because the rice doesn't boil and release it's starch - it just simmers away.

The verdict from the menfolk - very tasty, delicious, tender and all gone...

And, today I have cooked Greek Chicken which I will serve with one of John's solar baked loaves of bread - that'll be perfect for mopping up the gravy.

Am I starving the men in my life?  RMan has attacked the hot freshly baked loaf - and the chicken has only been in the oven for an hour - with we still 5 hours still to go until dinner time...
To prepare and cook Greek Chicken is dead easy.

Rub 7  - 8 pieces of chicken with an oil / garlic / salt and pepper mixture.  Then take 7 pieces of cinnamon and place them at the base of your pot - put the chicken pieces on top of them.

Slice 3 tomatoes and place them round the chicken.  Add as many olives (halved) as you like and then cover the chicken with 7 - 8 slices of (unpeeled and washed) lemon. 

Add 100mls of white wine, cover and place in a solar oven pre-heated to a minimum of 130oC for 2 1/2 - 3 hours - any longer will only ensure that your chicken is fall off the bone tender.

Chicken cooked in the solar oven is an absolute treat - tender, tasty and moist - it will brown, but won't go crisp.  And the gravy that it produces - delicious.

It's 4.15pm and the chicken is cooked - it's now in the hotbox until dinnertime.  Note the gravy which has been produced.  What a clever little oven... :-)  And my dinner preparation is over for the day - what more could a woman ask for?
A tip for keeping the cooked chicken hot until dinner time - place it straight from the hot (130 - 150oC) solar oven into your hotbox (haybox) (http://ecofootprintsa.blogspot.com/p/trying-to-make-difference-start-of-our.html and scroll down the page to the 2nd photograph of my hotbox).

The total amount of electricity I consumed in cooking both meals was that which was used to boil two cups of water for the rice.  Otherwise - the sun did it all for me :-)  And the herbs, carrots and tomatoes came from my garden - as well as the lemon.


  1. Beautiful food and photos! I love your solar oven. I do not have one but plan to build one soon. I cannot eat any grains at all so all breads, rice, etc., are out for me. I'm accustomed to it now, but in the cooler months, it's more difficult because I love a crusty loaf with a hearty soup. I can't have even one speck of wheat grain.

  2. o.m.g :/
    I can almost taste those photos! lol...wonderful and looks amazing, Dani. I'll be trying this out as soon as I'm able to...thx great post!

  3. o.m.g. :/

    This looks absolutely delicious! Wonderful recipe and easy to make. I can't wait to try this as soon as I can eat. Thx, Dani...great post!

  4. Ezra - you could also purify (boil) your water in here too - pity it doesn't filter also :-)

  5. Ginger - I have a couple of wheat free recipes - will look them up and post them for you :-)


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