Change the World Wednesday, Cooking

Mother Nature has had a few violent mood swings lately.  We go from so hot I am ready to visit anyone with air conditioning (which I hate), to needing an extra blanket on the bed if I  want to sleep with fresh air coming in.  Today, it’s downright chilly, but it’s a nice break.

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Are you wondering what this has to do with today’s challenge at Reduce Footprints?  There is a connection, trust me.  In the winter months I used to save on my heating bill by preparing meals in the oven.  Once done I would prop the oven door open enjoy the heat as  it warmed the room.  Summer……the last thing we need is extra heat.  Small Footprints has challenged  us to consider how we prepare our food this week:

This week, rather than use your stove/oven to prepare meals, use counter top appliances (crock pot, toaster over, electric skillet, etc) or eat raw foods.  No cheating…..we’re not suggesting you buy prepared foods or head to the nearest restaurant.  The challenge is to  prepare meals at home using the least amount of energy.  Can you do it for one day?  How about seven?

One day, seven days?  I cook like this every day of  the year, and it’s not hard to do so.  The local foods are finally coming into their season now. Wednesday in addition to Change the World Wednesday challenge is also the day our local farmers market is open.   Here’s what I came home with today.

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Three leeks, a bunch of carrots, 7 red potatoes, 2 ears of corn, 5 fresh peaches, a bowl of Bing cherries, and just picked blueberries.  This will be added to what I can pick from the garden, greens, peas, beans, peppers, and more carrots to name just a few.

Free music at the Market today.

Free music at the Market today.

I prefer not to cook, when I  can get away with it, unless I have company most of these foods will be eaten raw.  I even enjoy my corn uncooked.  A few years ago my son was complaining because his daughter wouldn’t eat corn, I pulled the husk off an ear and began to eat it, raw, she took it from me and began to take a few bites. She finished my ear of corn and today prefers to eat her corn the same way.

The things I do cook will be cooked in my rice cooker this week, potatoes are one  food I don’t like raw.

Entrance walkway to the market.

Entrance walkway to the market.

As you can see Small Footprints gave me a break this week, had this been last week I would have taken the easiest way out and eaten all my meals raw, but with temps falling into the 40s a hot bowl of soup  may be needed a time or two this week until Mother Nature calms down and remembers this is supposed to be summer.

Will you accept the challenge and use the stove/oven less?  What is your favorite kitchen appliance when it’s hot outside?

49 thoughts on “Change the World Wednesday, Cooking

  1. I own a Thermomix which is my favourite cooking tool. It does everything and doesn’t heat beyond 110C so it doesn’t put nearly as much heat out into the air. I love it too as I can cook a meal inside. Sauce in the bottom, reducing down, the steam and liquid from which cooks the rice or pasta, thesteam from which then steams the meat and finally veggies. It reduces my cleaning up too as I really am not a fan of cooking (although I love baking). I have other friends who use their wood stove to heat the house, hot water and cook on in winter and in summer they barbecue everything, including baking bread. We’re mid winter here and the temperatures have been down towards 0C or below over night some nights and the days are around 10C tops but we have our wood heater/stove/oven on which we cook whenever possible. We use each piece of wood we burn for at least 3 uses (heating hot water, heating the house and heating food) which is keeping our environmental empact lower too.

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    • I’ve never heard of a Thermomix, but it sounds like a fantastic appliance, similar to a slow cooker in easy clean up as well. I’m like you, don’t enjoy cooking or baking for that matter. I have always wanted a wood stove, but never had the chance to have one installed.

      I am not looking forward to our winter, I am still waiting for a typical summer that I can enjoy and fear we may have a rather long harsh winter. Stay warm, Jamie.

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  2. Our weather has been crazy variable, from about 18-32 C (64-90 F) during the day. At our house we are just cooking less often, such as making a big crock pot meal twice a week and having it for several days.

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    • Yesterday was a nice day but so chilly I had to close things up during the night and today the high only reached 64 and is falling with rain. It’s that damp chill that gets to me and I’m struggling to deal with the cold and still have some fresh air coming in. The things I look forward to during summer is the relief from aches due to the cold and being able to have open doors for fresh air (my window is stationery). I can’t count how many times I’ve had to close things up this summer because it was just too cold.

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      • I hadn’t been cold this summer up until yesterday, but we’ve had a couple weeks of hard rain – the humidity in the house has been up as high as 81%! I have got the dehumidifier going to avoid mildew.

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        • Isn’t this a crazy summer? Last year was so dry and hot, unusual for us, then this year is cold and rainy. I can no longer count on anything “normal” any more and believe this will be something we will have to get used to for many years to come. 81% humidity inside is really high, hope you can keep the mildew at bay.

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  3. This actually sounds like a fun challenge. If my life weren’t so crazy at the moment I might give it a try.

    Anyhow, my “appliance” of choice on hot summer days is my solar oven. The only thing I haven’t really had luck cooking in it is beans. The problem is that once it gets hot enough for things to boil, steam forms on the glass and you have to go open it up and wipe it off. For most things this isn’t a huge problem, but for beans it means you sorta have to babysit the thing all day. At any rate, I gave it a try last week – I soaked them overnight before hand to shorten the cooking time, and cooked them for 8 hours. They were OK, but could have stood another 2-3 hours of cooking time to be really nice and mushy (I was making refritos so they’re best if they’re really well done). Unfortunately it got cloudy and I was hungry!

    I think my next solar project will be making soup stock as my freezer stock bags are getting full of scraps and desperately need to be emptied.

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    • Cat, I have wanted for years to make my own solar oven, I just never seem to make the time to do it. I thought it would be a fun experiment until I saw Ed Beagley, Jr with his and realized solar ovens were more than just an experiment then. I read about yours and was determined to make one, alas it still hasn’t happened. I think I will have to make it my winter project. When I do I’ll be using your post to help me avoid all the mistakes. Good to know beans are a problem, but that’s okay I’ll just keep using my slow cooker for them.

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  4. good intentions and all, but I think I “blew it”..grin/sigh

    came across heck of a deal on cases of Mushrooms and also Jalepeno Peppers…so, I need to be doing something with them, so I can use them later..and it all seems to include/cooking/electricity/etc..oh well, it was a GOOD deal

    so, I apologize, as my questions below, don’t belong in this forum, but am hoping you Lois/one of your readers, might know..here goes

    Mushroom Broth
    I want to make some mushroom broth, to freeze. So far all I have done, is chop some mushrooms, add LOTS of water, touch of pepper and salt, and simmered for hours. It all smells/tastes pretty good. I plan to freeze in small containers for soup/whatever later. When I looked on line, every one I looked at seemed to add many more ingredients/steps, etc…. Do you all think this is okay (what I did)?

    Dried Mushrooms
    I have finely chopped some mushrooms in teeny little cubes. Plan to dehydrate them. (got a dehydrator years ago as a family gift, haven’t used it in yrs, so dug it out)…After they are dehydrated, I want to put in container in freezer, so I can use a few in whatever when I wish (soup/pizza/etc)…Will this work, or will it make them too chewy or rubbery?

    Dried Jalepeno Peppers
    I have finely chopped some of these, hope to do same as with mushrooms, and also put in container In freezer.. same idea. Again, anyone know if this is ok?

    Jalepeno Broth
    Anyone know if it would be a good idea, so to speak, to chop some Jalepeno’s, and make broth, like the mushroom broth?

    thanks, if anyone can help.

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    • Lynn, I”m not the one to ask about jalapeno or mushrooms, but for what it’s worth I believe if you like the taste of your broth then you did well. As for dehydrating, I’m not sure how tiny you chopped your mushrooms, but remember when they are dry they will shrink up, a lot. I learned to dry my foods, then when cool put them in a glass air tight container for a few days to see if any have moisture left in them, they will mold. Once sure they are dry you can transfer them to the container you want to store them in. And yes, they do work well in soups and such after being dried.

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      • Lois, thanks for the info. I was a little concerned re the mushrooms, if, after drying and storing, they might be too rubbery in soup. Good to know it is ok. I read this just in time, just taking a break/checking stuff here, and then I was off to slice up huge bunch of mushrooms to dehydrater.

        Lois, do you know, which is best, which will work

        after dehydrating the mushrooms, I plan to divide them up in containers, and then either put that in the freezer, or in a spare fridge (sigh, I know, wasteful of electricity)..

        I am assuming the very best, would be to put in the freezer?

        and you say, you put them in a jar for a few days to see if there is any moisture left, so, if I put in freezer, I suspect this may not be critical?

        thks

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        • Lynn, I wouldn’t freeze them after dehydrating. Once completely dry they are shelf stable for a very long time. I was given a food saver one year for Christmas so after storing a few days in a glass jar I transfer the dried foods to a bag and vacuum out the air and seal. Once I open a package the remainder is either vacuumed and sealed again or stored in a glass jar. That is the point of drying foods, they need no refrigeration after.

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  5. How nice to catch up on some reading here :) I love your challenge even if I won’t take it. We do eat raw-food at times (weekly), but trying to get all the children to eat enough and varied nutrition I have to be creative with the menu.
    One way we use to save energy though is to heat water for coffee and tea in the morning and fill a thermos to use later during the day.
    Have a great weekend!

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    • It is good to hear from you again. How is the baby? You don’t have to explain picky eaters to me :-) I only had 2 children but that was enough of a challenge for me when it came to mealtimes. I do the same with my tea when it’s cold out. I have a thermal bottle I keep my hot water in rather than heating more, saves energy and time.

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  6. I’m really liking this challenge Lois! The summer has been unseasonably hot here in Ireland, although it has died down the past couple of days. It even gave us our first bad thunderstorm last night in a long time. I’m 21 this year and have never witnessed anything like it!
    When the weather is hot I cannot stand a hot dinner. I’ve been living on salad and fruit the last couple of months but there’s only so much of that I can eat! Thank goodness autumn begins this day next week – my favourite time of the year :)

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    • Eimear, isn’t the weather crazy. I am 50 and can’t remember anything like the past two years. This year we had a super late start to spring, summer has been either so hot we can’t stand it (something we don’t usually see until August) or raining. The amount of rain has to be record breaking, and storms we’ve had plenty.

      Like you I don’t want to eat anything hot when it is hot outside. I even broke down last week in the heat and bought a tub of sherbert to share with the kids as we all needed to cool down and water wasn’t doing the trick.

      Autumn starts next week for you? Autumn begins here in October.

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      • We had very cold weather up until about late May, then the heat here has been so unusual! We were officially entered into a drought AND a heatwave a couple of weeks ago – unheard of in Ireland! Now it’s still warmish but lashing rain half the time. We got 2 months rain in a couple of hours yesterday, and for Ireland, that’s a LOT of rain!

        You had a pretty good excuse for buying sherbert, Lois. My parents and I have been living on ice cream and pints of ice water!

        Yes in Ireland the seasons run on the start of the month. We have spring from February to April, summer is May to July, autumn is August to October and winter is November to January. Although the past couple of years it would have made more sense to have winter from January to April, then spring from April to September, and Autumn after that. Summer generally does not happen in this country, this year being the exception.

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        • Eimear, I have always dreamed of visiting Ireland, but in my vision of Ireland your country had plenty of rain and lots of lush greenery, cooler temperatures than what I experience here. My impression of the temperatures must come from the beautiful sweaters Ireland is known for. Hearing you have been experiencing drought and heat waves seems so out of character to me.

          Yes, the sherbert hit the spot! Last week I was sorry I hadn’t purchased and filled my freezer yet because frozen fruit is one way we stay cool in the hot weather and without access to that, or ice for our water, I gave in. We just needed to cool down quickly and I don’t have air conditioning either.

          How narrow-minded of me to just assume everyone used the calendar for their seasons in the same way we do here! There are times, like this, that I wish my travels had taken me outside of the US. I think if we were to refer to our seasons by when we experienced the weather we expect with that season in my area Winter would be from November to March, Spring April to May, Summer would be from June to early September and Autumn would be short from mid September to late October. Of course this last winter began in December and didn’t end until nearly May, it was crazy.

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          • Don’t feel bad Lois, Ireland is such a tiny country in comparison to the US so it’s easy to assume these things. As long as you don’t call us British there will be no problems! ;)

            Your impression of Ireland is actually very accurate. We experience an awful lot of rain and every piece of nature is green. It’s only this summer that has been out of the ordinary. And remember, a heatwave in Ireland is about 26C and drought is 2 weeks without rain! I do hope you will come visit us sometime in the future. After all my giving out about it, Ireland really is a beautiful country :)

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          • I wouldn’t dare refer to Ireland or its people as British! :-)

            I still plan to visit one day, my son worries about me doing so due to the problems you have, but I think it would be worth it. My plan has been to rent a country cottage for a month and hopefully meet the people and hear their stories, of course I have to bring home a beautiful wool sweater :-)

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    • My granddaughter spent the night with me last night, the first thing she did when she spotted my produce is tell me we needed to make soup. So first thing this morning we went out into the garden to find more vegetables to add to what I bought and together prepared a pot of soup. My neighbors must think we are nuts as we then sat outside at 9 am eating a bowl of soup with a dessert of cherries and blueberries. :-)

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  7. Hoping this comment works as mobile again. I use oven less in summer. Eating salads and raw foods more. Though I have cooked potato and Corn. When cooking more than one veg. Say beans and peas and carrots I use same pan to cook. Though this week I’ve made 2 batches of soup for freezer. But even I think twice these days as the cost here for electric has nearly doubled in last few months. Good Luck Lois! :) Sue x

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    • Sue, your mobile works fine. I didn’t know you have experienced such rate increases but by preparing foods now I think you will end up saving in the end. The added cost of preparing meals on top of the electricity to run a thermostat for heat would really add up. I too eat more raw foods during the summer months, luckily our fruits are now coming in as I could live on fruit alone.

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          • No I read how the temps are up then down.. Seems we are all experiencing weather out of the norm.. We had super storms the other night .. the like of which I had never seen, Rain damage in towns near here flooded many streets and properties… I got wound up in a news item, Hubby had on, as a 92 yr old womans bungalow was flooded, she had paid insurance for over 70 years and the insurers had altered her contract without her knowingly knowing.. No letter her relatives had had… So she was not covered for content insurance despite paying the premium..
            So this lady now has no insurance… Yet they took her premium…

            It was disgraceful… So many unscrupulous firms out there who want a sure thing only…..

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          • Its diabolical that they are allowed to do that, without informing them… arrgh I need to get into my Bubble LOL..
            Enjoy your evening/afternoon, its nearly 9-30pm here.. Im out visiting relatives tomorrow,, and have Saturday off too.. but working Sunday… then a whole 12 days off.. luxury!.. I have some chore around the house need doing such as a lick of paint in the kitchen.. Plus I want to paint more, Ive missed my painting..

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          • Sue, enjoy your time off, if anyone deserves it you do. It’s supper time here, I’m having another bowl of soup as I’m too lazy to make something else plus it is delicious. Looking forward to seeing more of your paintings.

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  8. I will give it a try…we’ll see..grin…..

    so, do you suppose, that might include already prepared/cooked rhubarb fruit mix, which is frozen? mmm How about Ice Cream to go with same…(gosh that does sound like cheating….mmm???)

    anyway, my favorite appliance when it is HOT..outdoor barbque…(I think that might also be cheating..?)

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    • I don’t think a barbeque is cheating, Lynn, the point of the challenge is to find ways not to heat up the house by turning on the oven and then needing more energy to cool things down. If you have items already frozen I say that’s perfect for the challenge.

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  9. It’s too bad we live on opposite ends of the state. Sounds like the weather is getting better up your way. Mear Philadelphia we’ve had a long heat wave, it has been in the 80s even at night!
    I try not to cook with my oven when it is this hot as well we have no air conditioner in the kitchen and it gets hot! I eat a lot of salad..

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