Cooking, as we all know, creates heat. If you have air conditioning that is heat that your AC has to use additional electricity (and thus incur additional cost) removing from the air. If, like us, you don’t have AC, then that is just heat that gets added to the air and makes a warm (or hot) house even hotter (or totally unbearable!).
Anything you can do to minimize the amount of heat that goes into the air as a consequence of your cooking in the summer is a good thing. It reduces your electric bill or makes your home more comfortable
The most classic way to do this is to chose meals that don’t require any heat to make. Sandwiches are the staple summer lunch for a reason you know! There are other meals that fit the same criteria-cold cereal and salads immediately come to mind.
Another way is to cook outside. The grill can be used not only for hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken and steaks, but also for grilled veggies and even pizza! Many propane grills today even have a single burner added on the side. This can be used to cook anything that you would cook on your range inside
But the grill isn’t the only way to cook “outside”. Remember, the main point is not to add heat to your living spaces-that can be done by plugging your crockpot, rice-cooker, toaster oven, or breadmaker in out in the garage, or even with an extension cord run to the back porch or deck. If you do cook using an unattended method outside, make sure that it isn’t accessible by animals or children. I have a feeling that having your crockpot roast attacked by the dog or your toddler scalded by the toaster oven would not be a good thing. . . .
Oh, and don’t plug the crockpot into the outside electrical outlet that the hot tub is already plugged into. It will trip the breaker and your hot tub will cool down, making it no fun to get into that evening. Ask me how I know this. . ..
The microwave is of course the ultimate in the “cool cooking” inside. There are entire cookbooks all about microwave cooking. Recipezaar, and RecipeGoldmine both have entire sections devoted to microwave recipes.
You can plan your cooking for the hours when the house is coolest, and then just reheat the meal before serving. In my house that would mean cooking after 8pm most nights, or first thing in the morning when we get up (around 630). Personally I prefer the evening-my eyes are actually focusing, and the house has all night to continue to cool down after I’ve added the cooking heat.
Some final tips for if you have to run the stove and oven in summer’s heat
If your stove’s fan actually vents to the outside you may as well run it while you are cooking on the stove top. It may not draw off much of the heat, but it will draw off some of the heat.
When you can’t avoid running the oven in the middle of the day, try to combine it for as many uses as possible. Can you cook a casserole for tomorrow night at the same time you are baking tonights chicken? Cooking two dishes doesn’t use any more heat than one. Does your dish cook for more than 30 minutes? Then you really don’t need to preheat the oven-pop the dish in while the oven is cold and fire it up.
And this last one doesn’t really keep your house cooler, but does save a tiny bit of money on electricity. Will your oven be on for over 45 minutes? You can turn off the oven for the last 1o minutes or so of cooking-the oven has enough heat built up that it will continue to cook.
I hope these ideas, tips and tricks help you to stay cool in the kitchen this summer!