Dipper Night. This is a favorite for the kids, but enjoyed by all. Think of an antipasto platter modified to fit your family. Slice up some veggies and add some dip. (My kids would eat anything if they could dip it!) Crackers or bread with a special spread. Olives, pickles, fancy (or not so fancy) cheese, hummus, dolmas, perhaps cured meats. Tomatoes in season, radishes or anything else you’re lucky enough to have fresh. Lay it all out and dig in!
Alternative cooking appliances OR different timing.
- If you have a toaster oven, use it instead of your oven. It uses less energy and won’t heat up the house as much, especially if used for a shorter time. I can actually cook a chicken in mine.
- You can also use a rice cooker to cook whole meals. An example of the simplest way would be to cook your rice (or any other grain, really) and then lay sausages on top to cook toward the end. Add some lacto-fermented sauerkraut as a finishing touch. You can also heat up simple rice casseroles or reheat leftovers in a rice cooker.
- If you DO need to use your oven, use it later in the evening, when our high desert breezes are cooling things down a bit. Perhaps bake some bread for cool sandwiches the next day.
- Put your crockpot outside. Cook your meal as usual, just outside to keep the house temperature down. OR try cook your chicken in it and use the shredded meat for chicken salad.
- Use your pressure cooker/instant pot. It really does not heat up the kitchen so you can make beans, meat, baked potatoes or anything you need.
- Use a microwave steamer, if you’re good with microwave cooking. It’s fast and doesn’t heat up the kitchen. Grains, meat, veggies – you’d be surprised how versatile your steamer meals can be. You can even bake in it, including brownies and BREAD!
- Try a VitaClay, especially the MultiPurpose Cooker. The way it’s encased keeps the heat IN the clay pot, not your kitchen. Plus, it slow cooks QUICKLY, so you don’t need it on as long as a slow cooker, while still getting the same tender results.
- Or, if you don’t have any of the other cooking tools I mention, bake your meat or casserole at night or first thing in the morning for the upcoming day’s dinner. Then just re-heat as quickly as possible so as not to heat the entire house. I will often cook my pasta early in the day while it’s still cool for a cool pasta salad for dinner. Or brown my meat early in the day for tacos with cool tomatoes, lettuce, onion and sour cream. Finally, I would boil eggs during cool times to use during hot times (plain, egg salad, maybe deviled eggs).
- Tuna, egg or chicken salad are great ways to use up leftovers and don’t require extra cooking time. All are great inside a cool, hallowed out tomato.
- Shrimp cocktail or ceviche
- BLTs – highlight summer’s bounty. You can go beyond the B, L and T, too. Add some Ch(eese), A(vocado), or S(prouts).
- While grilling for tonight, throw on items for the next meals. Add an eggplant for babaganoush. Or summer squash for a pasta salad. Even shrimp or chicken for cool tacos tomorrow.
- Double up. Make a double batch so you sweat once and eat twice.
- Beans. Either canned or already made and frozen. Use them in salads, quesadillas, black bean salsa, hummus and more.
- Couscous or bulgar. Both cook up so quickly you’ll hardly heat up your kitchen. Boil the water or broth, throw in the couscous, turn off the heat and let sit. Add tomatoes, feta and mint for an easy gourmet meal. Voila!
A whole foods lifestyle means you can’t escape cooking in the summer. But you can escape the heat. Try some of these productive ideas to start. Happy Summer Cooking!