Monday, September 8, 2008

Cool Summer Cooking

We were getting ready to cook dinner the other day and wanted to make stuffed peppers ... a food that we've typically cooked in the oven. Beautiful fresh green peppers sat on the counter waiting to be prepared but ... it was one of the hotter days around here ... in the 90's ... and the prospect of turning on the oven and heating up the house even further was making me lose my appetite. In fact, even turning on the stove to cook some rice seemed to heat up the apartment to uncomfortable levels. So what could we do?

We could turn on the A/C while we cook but ... heating up the place just to then have to cool it seems like such a waste.

We could make sandwiches instead but ... sooner or later we're bound to want something cooked.

We could use a grill but ... our apartment managers frown on personal grills on patios.

We could forget it altogether and go out to a restaurant but ... that's expensive, uses gas to get there and is usually less healthy than what we cook at home.

And then ... a light bulb moment. We could use an electric frying pan.

Countertop appliances like electric frying pans, woks, rice cookers and microwaves typically use less energy to cook food. We have found that they heat up faster so cooking begins immediately rather than waiting for the oven or stove to reach cooking temperatures. In addition, less heat escapes into the room ... a real bonus in the summer months.

This method does, however, take some imagination and creativity with recipes which were designed for the oven. For example, rather than prepare our stuffed peppers in the traditional way, we took the ingredients, chopped them up and cooked them together in the frying pan. They didn't look exactly the same as the oven variety but the taste was just as good. We ate a delicious, home-cooked meal in a cool apartment.

So, before turning on the stove or oven, see if there's a countertop appliance that can do the job. It will save energy and keep your house cooler. One drawback, however ... you won't be able to claim that you've slaved in a hot kitchen anymore.

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve.