Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Solar Solstice Vegan Patty

I love a good burger, and so does just about everybody. This burger from Sun Foods in Toronto uses only vegetable ingredients. Sun Foods makes several different types of veggie burger. I'm using their Falafel patty today.

In late December on a clear day, there's plenty of energy you can get from the sun to fry your veggie burger using the El Sol parabolic solar grill. The El Sol is a 1.4 M parabolic reflector that focuses sunlight at the centre, creating a very hot spot like a burner. Anything you place at the focal point - in this case a lightweight steel frying pan - will become very hot. The El Sol uses only free sunlight, and thus has no polluting emissions.

I pre-heat my pan for about 5 minutes, and coat the pan with fair trade organic olive oil. The slices of yellow zucchini go in first for about ten minutes.

The veggie patty takes another five minutes to cook. Then it's time to dress the burger.

I just love St John's Bakery bread. It's baked in the traditional French method, using organic ingredients including flour from Mennonite farmers here in Ontario. St John's Bakery also has a social mission - helping people on "the margins of society" get training and job experience as bakers. It's a mission I support by buying bread baked from St John's. They're also as local as it gets, being located around the corner from my house!

I drizzle some balsamic vinegar onto the patty.

Next comes an orange organic tomato. You can use whatever fresh organic produce is in season. Live watercress spouts are also delicious. I like to dress a burger with live sprouts instead of lettuce, as the nutritional value of live, sprouted food is higher, and there are a wide variety of exciting taste combinations to choose from.

I've also sprinkled some Matt's Cherry tomatoes dried with solar energy, and picked from the massive 12 foot wide by 12 foot high vine that covered the south side of my house this past summer.

This burger was delicious, nutritious, made with vegetarian, organic, local or else fair trade ingredients.

Alternatively, you can also prepare this veggie burger with a salad, forgoing the bread for a totally vegan version of this dish. I used the live watercress again, with English cucumber, Chinese parsley, solar grilled yellow zucchini, the solar dried tomatoes, fresh orange tomato, and balsamic vinegar. When the solar day gets longer, I'm going to try making my own solar balsamic vinegar reduction using the El Sol.
This dish was prepared on December 21, 2006, the shortest and least intense solar day of the year, which also happened to be clear and cloudless here in Toronto.

Solar Cooking in Winter - Indian Style Kale

Because Canadians live with winter and cold temperatures, we perceive that Canada has little sunlight to use. The reality is however that on clear days, of which we have many in December and January, we can concentrate enough sunlight to cook our food.

I grow Dinosaur Kale in my back garden. This kale is an heirloom variety dating back 200 years, and it tastes wonderful.

Using my El Solito small parabolic solar grill, I fried the kale Indian style.

First I heated organic, fair trade olive oil from the Zatoun Co-Operative in Palestine. From now on, I will be using Zatoun's olive oil exclusively in my solar cooking.

I fried some black mustard seeds until they popped., then added onions, organic sea salt and turmeric. If you've ever wondered how curry powder gets its lovely colour, all the credit goes to turmeric, which doesn't really have much of a taste. We use it for the colour.

Then I added the raw kale, and covered the pan with a black enameled pot lid. The moisture in the kale helped to steam it.

After about 10 minutes, I had an Indian style cooked kale dish that was simply delicious, in addition to being local, organic, fair trade and vegan. Though I'm entering this blog in late December, this dish was prepared in mid-November in Toronto on a clear day.