Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keeping Your Kitchen Cool While Preparing Paleo / Primal Summer Meals

Though it doesn't really bother me personally, the extra heat in our kitchen from a running oven gets to my husband when the summer temps are at their peak. There are several ways that you can avoid heating the kitchen on the hottest days of the year. Here are some:

  • Crock potting! - All you need is some meat, veggies, and seasoning combo of your choice to get started on a crock pot meal. My model of crock pot is the Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Slow Cooker, which has a simple digital interface, optional meat thermometer, clip closed gasket, but most importantly it can cook a whole lot of meat - even two whole chickens! or 10 lb. of pork loin! - at once.

    One terrific blog resource for some crock pot inspiration is A Year of Slow Cooking. The blog's author, Stephanie O'Dea, keeps things gluten-free, so you're sure to find lots there.

    If you don't have a slow-cooker, an alternative is to slow-cook your food on the back burner of your stove top on low - just remember that you can't leave a hot stove-top alone for longer stretches the way you could with a crock pot.

    A bonus to slow cooking meat in bulk is that it provides you with extra meat to add to your meals throughout the week, or to freeze for later.

  • Toaster oven - Even the simplest models of toaster ovens are very capable in terms of broiling and baking. Toaster ovens can also do some pretty short work of cooking quiches. Clear Pyrex is a great option in a toaster oven, because a personal-sized quiche (or other dish) in the rectangular Pyrex dishes fits in the oven and cooks pefectly. (Example of one personal quiche I cooked in my standard oven here.) After cooking something in the toaster oven in a Pyrex dish, you can let the dish cool, and then place the plastic lid if you're packing the dish into a lunch. Since the Pyrex is microwave and dishwasher safe, it's very practical.

  • Stovetop staples. - Yes, you'll still get a little warm, but only for a few minutes tops. Scrambled eggs, stir-fries, and marinated thinly-sliced meats all cook up in a jiffy with minimal temperature impact on the kitchen.

  • Grilling! - No better way to keep your kitchen cool than by grilling out. Kebabs, ribs, burgers, chicken tikka masala...the possibilities are truly endless. One of our household's favorites is a basic butter-glazed shrimp.

  • Go raw. - This option is admittedly for more adventurous palates, but it will definitely not pose a risk of overheating your kitchen! Consider sashimi (ask your grocer if the tuna or salmon sold is sashimi grade to be safe), prosciutto added to an insalata caprese, smoked salmon, or even ceviche.

  • Prepare ahead. - Make extra for a cold-from-the-fridge treat - chicken or egg salad, cold cooked bacon, leftover roast beef with a bit of horseradish sauce.

  • Liverwurst! - This one is a bit of a silly bonus, but we love chilled liverwurst at our house! And since I know that liver is a healthy and even essential element to our diet, it's that much more enjoyable.

What are ways that you keep your family and kitchen cooler during the summer heat while preparing your meals?

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  1. We have lots of salads with grilled meat in the summer. Keeps the house cool!

  2. I have to argue that a crock pot does not keep the house cool. I would rather braise something on the stovetop for a few hours than to turn on the crockpot to pump out heat all day long. Living in a house that doesn't have airconditioner, I can tell you that a crockpot raises the temp in the house about 5 degrees within and hour and keeps going up to about 10 degrees above normal. From morning to night.

    If you do the crockpot, set it up outside.

  3. Sunny,

    I haven't noticed our crock pot have any significant impact on our kitchen's temperature - at least whatever impact it has is far smaller than what cranking up our oven would do.

    Maybe mileage on slow cookers affecting kitchen temp varies from model to model.


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