Two days ago on the first stinking hot day we had… it’s stretching out into daaaays with no relief…. I decided not to waste the sunshine and so dragged the solar oven out and dried herbs in it. My oregano was going nuts in the front wicking bed and it dies down over winter (who knew? Discovered that fun fact last winter when I went out to get some oregano for a pasta dish and there was none left), so now that it’s grown back I have to start harvesting some for the cold dark days.
I didn’t want it to fog up like when we made biscuits, so I put a very high tech device in the door to let a little bit of air flow happen.
Then I put a huge handful of oregano onto a tray with a cooling rack on it in the solar oven and came back after 20 minutes to check what was happening.
OMG!!! Done! After only 20 minutes. That’s faster by far than my electric dehydrator. And the smell…. mmmmmm…
I think because the leaves dried so fast it captured a lot of the oils. When I opened the oven it smelt like pizza.
I got all enthused and went and cut some golden oregano. Why not?
In it went.
Out it came. I crushed up the leaves a bit and mixed them all into the same jar. It smells fantastic. As I said on Facebook, I had no idea dried herbs were meant to smell like this. The supermarket ones smell of dust and despair. Then I looked about me. There was lots of sunshine out on that porch still going to waste…
So I dried some rosemary. I like very finely crushed rosemary to put on oven fried chips when I’m baking them, so I used the end of the thermomix spatula to crush the leaves down finely.
But I still wasn’t finished. It was around 4PM by this stage and I still had sunlight to use up. It was sinking lower in the west so I had to move fast.
I grabbed this book that came with the solar oven.
It has a recipe for brownies and I had some walnuts that needed using, so my mission was clear.
The first step was to melt the butter.
The book said something like “Melt the butter in the solar oven if you have time…”
Huh! “If I have time…” I’m on holidays, baby! I have nothing but time.
I had to make a double batch because I don’t have a tiny little baking tray like the one in the recipe (8″ x 8″. REALLY??? Who am I meant to be cooking for… leprechauns?)
I think because of the double batch it took longer to cook these… nearly 2 hours. But very delicious and gooey in the middle. I’ve never made brownies before so I was quite pleased.
*** But tried to cook an impossible pie in the solar oven yesterday. I knew I was taking a gamble by putting it in at 5PM but I thought I’d give it a go.
It didn’t cook. By 7.30 it was still runny, though the cheese on top had melted and it was trying to get going. So I finished it off in the oven.
I think the problem is that I still have no real idea about how to aim the mirrors at the sun. I set it up but I probably had the sun’s rays shooting out to space instead of aiming at the pie. I always position the oven (and the kettle) to have the shadow behind them, so I’ve grasped that concept. I just need to find out if the side and back mirrors need to change position depending on the angle of the sun or if it’s “one position fits all”.
One last thing… I used the thermomix to chop all of the vegies for the impossible pie, which took 25 seconds. So quick and efficient. I really like the idea of using the high-tech appliance to prepare the meal, then using the low-tech one to cook it!