Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Keeping Cool in the Kitchen

Its been hot and muggy here so I thought I'd share some tips for keeping cool in the kitchen.

1. The most obvious tip, cook as little as possible. Go with fresh, raw fruits and veggies whenever possible.

2. Choose foods that cook quickly. (Lentils, couscous, and bulgur immediately come to mind)

3. Choose the cooking method that generates the least heat. Can you microwave it or cook it stove top? Would the toaster oven work just as well as the oven but generate less heat? Could you use a solar cooker?

4. If you do turn on the oven to make dinner, make it worthwhile. Cook extra for another day or make some muffins, bread or cookies at the same time.

5. Take your cooking outdoors. I'm not just talking about using the grill. Put your slow cooker out on your deck to prevent the kitchen from heating up. Use your pressure cooker on a single burner outside as well.

6. Plan your menus for the week around leftovers. If you make a big batch of beans and rice one day, dress it up differently and get a few different meals out of it.

Here's what we did last night. I made whole wheat couscous in one pot and cooked lentils with one large bay leaf in the pressure cooker. I served a scoop of couscous topped with a scoop of lentils and a salad of mixed greens over the top. Each person topped this with their favorite dressing, mine is maple mustard (this is really just vegan honey mustard dressing). The result was a nice contrast in textures and temperatures and the kitchen didn't get heated up.

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