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Melt Down

On Friday, 2nd March, 2012 the Rotary Club of Bequia and the Northern Grenadines Community Development Inc. teamed up to launch the Bequia Rotary NGCDI Medical Emergency Fund, under the almond tree in Port Elizabeth.

The day started with a foul weather threat hanging over its head.  I left home with the sun ovens and some faith that the sun would prevail.  I placed one of them for display on a table under the tent since it didn’t look like the best day to choose to demonstrate my solar cooking skills. 

It was after 3:30 p.m it dawned on me that the sun was shining and I should harness some sunshine, if only to show the temperature rise on the thermometer.  There was a covered black pot and an empty baking pan inside the oven, which I explained are part of the package if one purchases a Global Sun Oven from Caribbean Neighbours.  One curious Rotarian asked me whether I had anything cooking inside the pot.  No! There was nothing, or so I thought.

At the end of the fundraiser at 4:00 p.m.I folded the reflectors, snapped the strap into place, and loaded the sun oven into the jeep. It spent Friday night, the entire Saturday and Sunday morning on my kitchen floor.  On Sunday morning around 11:00 a.m. I remembered something.Oh my!

I got back home to find that my husband had already sun-baked a birthday cake for one of our daughters. “Did you find some onions?” I asked.

“Look on the kitchen counter and see what I found,”  he replied.  To my horror I remembered that indeed I had had something inside the black covered pot on Friday.  I had chopped some onions before leaving home that morning and put them in a plastic cake pan in case I was able to cook some rice and lentils. Therefore, when I placed it out in the late afternoon sun I did the unthinkable. 

It was a total meltdown.

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I haven’t blogged for a while but I was going through my photos from last year and saw one that I needed to display.

Our family members are avid viewers of Food Network’s “Chopped”.  I simply love it when we challenge one another to a round of “Chopped” in our kitchen.  Last year my husband and daughter took on a challenge of baking a fruit cake.  My daughter would bake hers in a conventional oven while my husband would bake his in a solar oven.

It needed no judge, for the cakes spoke for themselves.  My husband’s Solar Fruit Cake stood out. Something went awfully wrong for my daughter’s.  Just like on the TV show.

Well, here’s what his looked like.  Sorry you cannot taste it.

And hey! How would you know what a Solar Fruit Cake tastes like if you don’t get yourself a Sun Oven?  Valentine’s Day will soon be here.  This as good as any time to remind you that a Sun Oven makes a great gift.

Mancake

Sun-baked fruit cake

 

Cut Mancake

Sun-baked Fruitcake Ready for the Taste Test

 

The slice that said it all

So Fishy

Two weeks ago the sea was so calm and inviting you had a choice of either fishing or walking on water.  The clear blue skies revealed the sun in its splendor while the islands beckoned the islanders to come across, from Balliceaux all the way to Grenada.  It was irresistable.

Off we went in our little white boat into the pages of another island adventure to be recorded in our memories forever.  I reminded Jesus that he loved fishing with his friends.  He enjoyed fishing so I wanted him to have pleasure in our little fishing expedition. I wanted at least a basket of fish.  Ah, the simple pleasures of life!  I had almost forgotten what it feels like to have a fish dangling on a hook.  What a thrill to haul in the first fish, and several after that.  The fish were absolutely thrilled that we had come to visit and we were equally happy to give them a hand up into the boat.

I did get my wish for a basketful.  We got a basket and more, thank God.  The following day I made some suncooked fish soup and felt rather proud of my accomplishments.

Fish prior to cleaning

Oh So Fishy

Ready for Cooking

Fish in the Sun

Soup of the Day

Food for Thought

There was no doubt that today would have been an extremely sunny day.  I got a call since the sun rose this morning.  Someone else had also seen the beauty of this day.  Bequia looked inviting across the waters.

As much as I like fish, the whole chicken in my freezer said, “Bake me!” And so I did.

After thawing it out I sprinkled some Heinz Apple Cider Vinegar over the big bird and filled the cavity with ground onions, garlic, chives, oregano, cloves, curry, black pepper, roasted geera and a bit of salt.  I rubbed the outside with some salt and some sunflower oil.

It was 11:45 a.m when I seasoned and stuck the whole chicken into the Sun Oven.  I baked it in a covered glass dish so I could see it bubble and brown. At 1:45 after taking snapshots of the sun tanned chick in the oven I carefully lifted her out where she proudly sat in her self-made gravy.  Oh, how tender she was.  You might say she was overcooked but she was the talk of the table.  I served her with brown rice cooked in the other Sun Oven, garnished with parsley, and cucumber slices.

Today definitely was not my day for being a vegetarian.  That will be another day and another story.

And hey! Please remember when you are baking in glass dishes that placing the hot dish on a cold surface will cause it to shatter.  Dont forget to use mittens or a dry towel to remove the dish from the oven.

Bird Before Oven

Whole Chicken Prepared For Baking

350 Degrees In The Heat

See Through Baking

Golden Brown

Well Done Chick!

Baked Chicken & Suncooked Rice

Vincies love their Roast Breadfruit and Boulejoule. Period.

So when my husband dropped in to do one of his Hello-Bye-Bye-See-Yous I excitedly took him by the hand and brought him on the sundeck to show him my latest “sunventure”.

It was too good a day to waste the sunshine so I washed a whole breadfruit and rubbed some oil on the skin.  I placed it into an unheated sun oven and left it to do its thing.

It was 10:30 a.m. when the experiment began.  I’m glad breadfruit have no feelings.  With that heat I was curious to see the end result.  Roast breadfruit is normally done outdoors on burning wood with the breadfruit eventually coming out cooked on the inside but severely burnt and blackened on the outside.

I was supposed to keep watch in order to record the length of time it took the sun oven to produce a “roast” breadfruit but a friend dropped in to visit.  We had not seen each other for quite a while so in all the “ole talk” I completely forgot to check on my other friend in the oven.

Shortly after three, once more back on duty, I grabbed my pot holder and went after my Vincentian delicacy.  What a beautiful sight to behold.  It had turned from green to roasted brown.  Just a few minutes later my husband arrived and I proudly showed him my “sun roasted” breadfruit.  But he disagreed with my description.  He preferred to call it “sunbaked” because it lacked its burnt blackened skin.  Okay, whatever!

The point is that it is possible to have sunbaked/sun roasted breadfruit if you own a sun oven, without all the smoke, fire and tears.  I failed to plan for the boulejoule this time but there will be other times.

Breadfruit in Sun Oven

It’s an expression I discovered when I came to live on Bequia over thirty years ago. It was in the days before supermarkets and online shopping and an abundance of processed food.  Although a more accurate meaning of the term would be “to use food sparingly” I think I can take the liberty in today’s context of solar cooking to make it mean using simple ingredients for sustainable living.

It was a perfect day for solar cooking.  I had on hand some green bananas and a few small yams (they look like wild yams–they’re not the large chunks you buy from the roadside market in Kingstown on Saturdays–smaller than a folded fist and very sweet).

Cheap food can make good food.  Here’s what I did with the four green bananas and four small yams. I placed them in water, with sufficient liquid to almost cover them (made slits in the banana skins to allow them to absorb the salt) added some salt, and few drops of oil and stuck it into the sun oven.

Two hours later (that’s when I remembered them) I set out to create a dish that could pass the “Chopped” judges on Food Network. Here’s what I had:

4 green bananas (cooked)

4 small yams (cooked)

tomatoes

milk

sugar

raisins

mayonnaise

sweet peppers

cucumbers

garlic sprigs

My approach:  I crushed the yams and rolled them into small balls.  I diced the bananas,  sweet peppers, cucumbers, and blended them with a little drop of milk, raisins, sugar, and mayonnaise.  I served that on large slices of bright red tomatoes and garnished with garlic sprigs.

Did I get chopped? You decide.  See the photographs below.

Raw green bananas and yams

Creativity, ease of preparation and presentation

It’s rainy today.  I’m often asked by prospective buyers of the Sun Oven what would happen if your sunny day turns out to be rainy when you had great plans for solar cooking.

It’s a valid concern.  I don’t think they are trying to rain on my parade of energy saving. They genuinely want to know the backup plan for not putting all their eggs in one basket before buying the basket (in that case the solar box).  The solution is saving for a rainy day.  When there’s an abundance of sunshine I recommend that you cook and freeze.

I love cooking Channa.  Not only is it healthy but I love to snack on it.  Soak it ahead of time then stick into the sun oven until tender.  Add salt and other seasonings.  Use some and freeze some for that rainy day.  Same goes for Red Beans or Black Beans.  Take your pick.  There are so many choices.  Bake and freeze your meat or chicken.  Rice, potatoes, breadfruit, dasheen.  Think creatively.  What can you prepare in advance and serve with a bit of salad or canned tuna or salmon, or cheese.  I think vegetarians have an advantage here.  Life is simple.

I cannot guarantee that you will get by solely on a solar oven because the sun only shines by day, and there are those rainy days.  But with a bit of planning you can be energy smart and efficient.

Channa also known as Chick Peas