Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Volcano cake with tropical flowers

Requested by this young lady.

Idea for cake found here.

General idea for flowers found here.

Instead of making my own hard-crack candy for the lava, I just melted down Red Hots and Jolly Ranchers. NOTE: When pouring the melted candy on parchment paper, make sure to pour various lengths of "lava" with a curve at the top to make it easier to secure to the cake. Looking back, I should have made more short lava and filled in the top more to make it look more explosive. I had longer pieces left and should have just broken them in half and used 'em.

Made to order for my daughter's ninth birthday!

2 boxes of cake mix
6 eggs
2/3 cup oil
1 pkg. prepared chocolate frosting
1 pouch green decorator icing
Cool Whip
1-6 oz. package of Red Hots
small bag of passion fruit Jolly Ranchers
(I just used the orange ones.)

$10.31 and a little putzing...
for a cake made to order,
with priceless memories
held in the heart of a nine-year old girl.

Most definitely worth it!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Solar Cooker :: Country Breakfast Casserole (gluten free to boot)

I've come out of hiding. Truthfully, I haven't been experimenting very much with new recipes since I've been a whole lot busier with homeschooling this year. In fact, the recipe in this post isn't new, it's just cooked in a new way...with my father-in-law's hard work in solar energy.

My FIL (a.k.a. Grampy) spent his entire career inventing different films and machines and made his niche with solar films. When he retired in 1996, 3M had discontinued using many of his films because there just wasn't enough demand for the the time. Oh, but with this fascinatingly new demand for solar power, they've begged, schmoozed, and pleaded for him to come out of retirement for the newbie engineers to glean as much as possible from him.

(Okay, I don't really know what they had to do to pull him out of retirement, but somehow they did it. Actually, I don't think he's getting paid, so what do you call that? A corporate volunteer?)

Anyhoo, when we visit Grammy and Grampy's house, our kids use all his old castoff films as their high-tech slippy slide. I get a little kick out of that! They also love to watch Grampy swooish down the hill on the film in his trunks that seem to be Teflon-coated. Visual: It's similar to Chevy Chase's Christmas Vacation waxed taboggon speed.

Jimmer on Grampy's "high-tech" (hill + film + water hose) slippy slide.

If you look closely, you can see Grampy's spunky trunks that make him zip like the wind.

(July '07)

For many years now Grampy has worked with a lovely couple, Mike and Martha Port, and together they came up with a design for a solar box cooker for Port's nonprofit organization. The cookers use Grampy's patented solar films as its solar secret weapon (at least it seems much more interesting and exciting if I put it that way).

So, if you want a little excitement in your life, give solar cooking a try. If you purchase one of their S.O.S. Sport ovens, you also enable the organization to send one (or almost one) to needy folks in different countries that have used up to 98% of their forests for firewood and are suffering from lung and eye diseases caused from inhaling smoke from cooking fires.

Be green and philanthropic! Using a solar cooker taps into a unique side of culinary creativity and provides you with a wonderful sense of satisfaction that we can harness that blazing sun power for good--for ourselves and our neighbors in need.

As for yer vittles, follow this Country Breakfast Casserole recipe, spray the pots to prevent sticking, pour in the fixins, and go from this... this in 3 hours of time you'd rather not heat up the kitchen, or use a bunch of energy that's not free.


Before I started cooking, I wanted to see how hot the oven would get by itself using the reflectors. It got up to 300 degrees. (I'd show ya, but the picture just turned out really blurry. See?)

Here's a non-blurry temp photo, but it was taken after I took off the lid and checked on the goodies.

When I put the mixture with the frozen potatoes into the solar cooker, it got down to 150 degrees, but then crept back up to 250 degrees as the average cooking temp.

I was thrilled with how it turned such a lovely shade of brown on top. Wasn't expecting it.

My taste buds were also thrilled.

As you can see, I'm a member of the C.P.C. (Clean Plate Club, as my Grandpa Hardie used to say).