You need a summer kitchen but I am not talking about the kind of summer kitchen you might be thinking of. All too often we see pictures in home decor magazines that feature high end outdoor kitchens with sinks, bars, plasma screen televisions, upholstered furniture, refrigerators and other appliances nicer than what I have in my real kitchen. This is ridiculous. I realized this when I was visiting THIS pioneer museum and interpretive center with interpreters who live out daily activities using pioneer technology. The women actually cook meals using period tools and feed the whole crew lunch daily, including hungry men who have been plowing with horses and women who have been working in the fields. In the summer they use a summer kitchen, a small covered shed with open sides that is outside the log cabin. Brilliant. This is the kind of summer kitchen you need.
I have a summer kitchen closer to the pioneer summer kitchen than anything in Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Mine is a large grill with the gas on the left and the charcoal on the right and a burner. I have next to it a wooden table from the thrift store painted with house paint. That's it. I can take my crock-pots outside, my large Nesco roasting oven (like this one HERE) and sometimes both at the same time and they can cook on the table. I also use my large pots on the burner as well as my cast iron griddle, enameled cast iron Dutch ovens cast iron pans and a pizza stone on the grill to do things like bacon, pancakes, veggies, pasta, breads, soups, stews. In my little outdoor kitchen I can make almost anything I can make indoors and without heating up my house at all.
Here's the thing. A lot of people know that using a crock-pot or roasting oven can be convenient but it will generate heat in the house. Take it outside. Do not cook indoors. Find a place on the patio, in the garage, in the drive way and set up a place to cook. When my family was little, I used to take the toaster oven out there. You would find a bread machine baking a loaf a bread, a crock-pot with meat and veggies, and a toaster oven baking a pie. A hot meal on a hot day and my house was nice and cool. The photo above is from this morning and that crock-pot is where I have chicken cooking so I can have chicken Caesar salad for dinner, and on the grill next to it, we will have some focaccia baking when it is closer to time. At the time of this writing, it is literally 101 outside and because of my aggressive cooling campaign (see more below), my house with a swap cooler is a comfy 76.
Take a few minutes now and think about a table in the garage or basement you could put to use or make a trip to the thrift store. Get an extension cord and set up a kitchen. You don't need to buy new equipment, just move your equipment outside. Crock-pots, dehydrators, bread machines, toaster ovens, and roasting ovens these can all be plugged in and set on a table. If you do buy anything, make it a hot plate for things like boiling water for pasta and tea. If you live in an apartment, this will still work for you. Back when I was a newly wed, I put my crock-pot outside and ran an extension cord from the living room to the patio. I also cooked on a little hot plate out there. Pressure cookers are a boone in hot weather because they do not experience much evaporation, do not need to be babysat, and conserve fuel. Avoid things that need attention because I am sure you would rather be cool and comfortable in the house than outside. Later in the series (there are three more Mondays to come) I have specific recipes to get your started thinking about the things that can be cooked outside and go beyond burgers.
But, now that the kitchen is outside, there are more ways to keep your cool this summer. Here are my top tips for keeping your house cool in hot weather:
- Use window fans to pull in cool air in the evenings and mornings, then shut the windows and the curtains to keep out the hot sun and the hot air. This is especially important in southern exposed rooms. You can keep the curtains open in northern exposed rooms.
- Use heat protective film on windows to keep out heat as well as cellular style shades. Film like this HERE can keep more of the heat out in windows with southern exposure. Skip their special spray and use water with a bit of dish soap, it works better.
- If you have a second story, remember that heat rises and cold air sinks. Put those window fans in the second story and keep the shades pulled down to just over the fan to keep the heat out. On hot days, use them to push the hot air out as it rises up, particularly in warmer rooms with large windows or southern exposure. At night, pull in the cooler air and allow it to sink to lower levels.
- Do not dry clothes in the dryer! Get a line and use it. You need the exercise, the clothes will smell great, the house will stay cooler, and you will be happier.
- If you have a swamp cooler, remember that air flows a lot like water. Keep the windows open in the room you want the cool air to flow into, but not so much that there is not a draft. Walk around outside and stand next to the open windows. If you can feel the air coming out, then it is open the right amount. Too much and there is no keeping the air in and there is no draft. This means leaving door between rooms open, too. If there is not a way for the cool air to get in, it won't.
- If you do cook inside, make sure to have a fan in the window to blow the heat outside so that it does not move into other parts of the house.
- If you have an electric stove, place a kettle or pot of water on the burner after you turn it off. It will absorb the heat so it does not radiate into the room and keep your kitchen cooler.
I want to remind you, I am not an Amazon affiliate so I am not promoting these links to make money. I actually own and use these products. The Gila film in the little girls' room brought down the temp ten degrees.
So, how are you keeping cool?
Linking up with Monday Mania!