"Summer solstice celebrations . . . [are] a testimony to the vastness of the universe, to the strength of the sun and to our incredible insignificance." Huffington Post
The focus of this blog had been to create delicious, healthy, and especially, cheap meals. But cooking in the solar oven is a huge plus 'cause it simplifies the whole cooking process and it's perfect for creating those frugal meals. And since it was another beautiful sunny June day—and the summer solstice—another solar meal was on the agenda.
The summer solstice is the longest day of the year, when the sun is at its zenith. Ancient peoples celebrated this day with dancing and bonfires. Festivals featuring music, art, and environmental awareness activities that focus on using the sun as a source of energy are held around the world, including a yoga gathering in Times Square. But, it was also a Tuesday, so I took my 5% off senior coupon and headed to the grocery store. Not an especially exciting way to celebrate the solstice, but I found a great $1 package of not-good-enough-to-sell-anymore vegetables that looked absolutely fine to me: an eggplant, a zucchini, a yellow squash, 2 leeks, and anise. I also picked up a $3.99/pound piece of scrod. (I had forgotten my seafood watch fact sheet, so I hope I chose correctly.)
My copy of "The Wicca Cookbook: Recipes, Ritual, and Lore" by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt states that some of the traditional foods of the summer solstice include yellow squash, zucchini, summer fruit, yellow and orange food, pumpernickel bread, ice cream, ale, and mead. Okay, how can I fit that information with what I had on hand?
Here's a fish stew recipe that came out delicious and used some of the recommended vegetables (and colors).
Eggplant cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium zucchini cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium yellow squash cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1 leek chopped into rings
1/4 tsp. cumin x 2
1/4 tsp. coriander x 2
pinch of cinnamon
3/4 cup water
fish bouillon (I actually used 1 tsp. Thai fish sauce)
2 cloves garlic minced or crushed
1/2 cup chopped tomato (canned or fresh)
fresh parsley and cilantro
a handful of olives (no pits!)
Cut fish into fairly big chunks. Mix 2 cloves crushed garlic, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. coriander, pinch of cinnamon, 2 tbl. olive oil, generous sprinkling of salt & pepper, and a Tbl. of lemon juice. Marinate fish for one hour.
Chop eggplant into 1/2" cubes and saute until browned. Add zucchini, yellow squash, onion, leeks, 1/4 tsp. cumin and 1/4 tsp. coriander. Saute to mix for another minute. Add 1/2 cup water and fish bouillon. Cover pot and put vegetables in sun oven.
|Fish stew on its way to the table. Photo probably by Rick.|
The next step I might do differently, but at this point I went out for an hour run. When I came home I got a phone call and was delayed another 20 minutes. I think the vegetables went a tad too long, but again, that would depend on the day and how hot the solar oven got. Add the marinated fish, the tomatoes, the parsley and cilantro, the olives, and the lemon juice to the pot. Put back out into the solar oven. That's it! I left the food out there until we were ready to eat dinner.
I made some cous cous on the side (it's perfect since all you need to do is boil water, add the cous cous, turn the flame off and let it sit for 5 minutes—plus it was yellow for the sun), and a salad from the greens in Annalee's garden.
Once again, you can make this conventionally. Follow the same steps, but simmer on the stovetop until the fish is cooked through. This meal fed all four of us with some extra leftover.
Off to eat the recommended ice cream!