Thursday, July 12, 2012

Beating the Heat, Still Able to Eat!

I hate the heat.

Just hate it. I turn into a beast, my head aches, I get swamped in self-pity and I'm really beyond ridiculous. My level of poutiness borders on obscene. I am a total wuss.

But I love me some nice weather! What a conundrum.

How do you cook and deal with the heat without central air if you're a big whiny-pants like me?

I use my porch. If you don't have a porch, use the deck. Or the stoop. Or the outside cellarway. The grill... Whatever it takes to keep the house more comfortable!

I keep an old table on the porch (and another one in the garage). That's where my deep fryers live...

I use my big roaster oven on the porch to roast things over the summer. We did a turkey on Monday... and had fresh turkey sandwiches on Tuesday and turkey and gravy over Basmati Rice tonight with grilled summer squash and zucchini on the side. Remember the idea of a "Summer Kitchen"? People who heated with wood stoves understood that the human body is not meant to be roasted for 10 weeks/year. Therefore they COOKED OUTSIDE... I love how smart that was! And when I've toured vintage home museums and plantations, even some of the simpler homes had the kitchens off-set from the main house, because there's no cooling a house down if a wood-burning kitchen stove is fired up, right?

All this is done outside to limit my whining! Now you know the real truth!

I do rotisserie chickens and pork roasts on the porch. I just skewer them inside, season them and set up the rotisserie, tuck 'em inside and turn it on. Amazing taste and no heat in the kitchen.

When the kids bought Dave a new grill for Father's Day a few years ago, we got one with the side burner. I use it for boiling potatoes and pasta for salads.

No heat in the kitchen!!! YAY!

I know lots of folks are temperature sensitive. Some hate the cold. Some hate the heat. The important thing is to figure out ways to deal with things and still be considered two shades shy of normal.

So what steps do you take to keep things cool? Take the heat off? If this year is truly going down as the hottest summer on record, let's share whatever advice we can find to get each other through it!


  1. Oh, I am SO with you! I don't mind the cold. I put on a sweater, get big ugly fuzzy socks. But the heat. *RAWRRRRR* and not in a good way.

    I find that if I have something cold to drink, then I usually can handle the higher temps. So, even if the house is 90F and there's a sweaty baby on me, if I can suck on an ice cube (or drop it down my shirt, haha) then I can keep from losing my mind.

    Love the cooking outside. That makes me jealous!!!

  2. You're jealous because I have a table and you don't? Aren't you married to the studly muffin with a tool belt????


    Make him build one!

    Really, I did the same thing before we had a house with a porch. I just used the side driveway.

    Tacky, tacky, tacky. But six little kids and hot summer sun and no shade at our place then... Oy. Necessity mothered invention then!

    1. Hahaha! I can totally see you cooking in the driveway.

      I should do that. Most of the nice elderly neighbors have passed away and we have turned into the party neighborhood. I don't think anyone will even notice.

  3. This is a great idea, Ruthy! Usually I just munch on cold things like salad and popscicles until cooler weather comes but that's getting kind of boring this summer!

    And speaking of heat -- anyone have tips for keeping a dog cool in an unairconditioned house? I've heard about spritzing their paws with cold water (they sweat through their paws did y'all know that?) and placing a wet towel down where they usually lie. Sadly my Simba gives me a dirty look when I try this and scratches the towel off to one side and then lies down. Poor old guy -- he's mostly black so that makes it worse.

    1. Kav, I saw this the other day, and it was so cool (pun intended!). This is for outside dogs, so I'm not sure how it would work for simba.

      Freeze chew toys, a can of chicken stock, and water in a plastic gallon ice cream bucket.

      Then, dump it out on a big bowl or something like a birdbath, or even just on the grass if you like.

      Puppy enjoys licking the melting chicken stock and water, and has some toys to play with too.

  4. wow I can't imagine no central air - that's like I dunno living in a tent or something! :-( my power goes out for 2 hours in the summer and I'm in a panic - a/c out in the car it's more crucial than the check engine light coming on...

    heck I eat chili in the summer - just set the a/c on 73...but I don't use the big oven. of course I don't use it much anyways :-( but still...I use my toaster oven and stovetop and crockpot and the microwave to reheat stuff - but I dont' fix different meals - just me so Ic an get away with making 2 things and eating on them all week if I have to.lucky me huh?

    Kav I tried hosing my girls down and spritzing them with aspray bottle - I don't recommend either one for staying on their good side but they were cool! and mad... mine tend tolike the tile even when the a/c is on - they want on the tile in the coolest part of the house - the lab grabs the bathroom doorway downstairs - yep I have to step over her to get to the potty and forget about closing the door! they also like under the ceiling fan or in front of a floor fan-back when they climbed the stairs they'd both get in my kingsize bed - one under the fan and the other on the side of the bed in front of the floor fan - and I'd be sleeping crooked on the hot side of the bed :-(


  5. Oh, the days of living without air conditioning! I love the open windows :) We rarely use ours here, but I'm glad we have it for the hot days.

    Ours is on today... When the daytime temps go above 95, the house just heats up. No trees. Of course, if you look east from our house, the only trees are the cottonwoods along the creeks - and there aren't very many creeks. The Great American Desert, you know?

    (And if you look west from our house...sigh. Hills - mountains, really - pine trees, coolness...)

    - - sorry for the rabbit trail - -

    Back when we lived in Indiana and had no AC, I rarely cooked meals during the hot spells. Cold sandwiches, tuna melts (just a few minutes under a broiler), anything grilled outside, and salads were what we lived on. (Except one son who lived on peanut butter sandwiches and applesauce for about two years.)

    One thing I learned when we lived in Kansas, though, is that self-cleaning ovens are worth their weight in gold...or at least power savings! The extra insulation a self-cleaning oven has keeps it from heating up the kitchen when you use it, making it possible to actually bake during a hot summer. With two July birthdays at our house, that's a necessity!

    And for the hot dogs (the furry ones, not the edible kind), ice is my favorite go-to. Chips of ice to eat and ice in the drinking water. And fans. And cool floors. We had quarry tile in the master bath in our last house, and the dog would move the throw rug out of the way and lie there at night.

    Our cat will lay on newspaper instead of the carpeting when she's hot.

    (Please excuse any incorrect usage of lay/lie in the previous paragraphs. I'm working with no caffeine yet this morning...)

    For an outdoor dog, a kiddie pool to play in is good. When we lived in Kentucky we had friends with a Newfoundland. The dog would just lay in the pool on hot days, face resting on the edge of the pool, blissfully contented.

    (See? There's another "lay"! I guess I can't get away from them when talking about animals.)

    I think I need a big glass of iced tea.

    1. I forgot to add that grilling hasn't even been an option for us this summer. We're under a fire ban that includes charcoal grills.

      I hope we get rain soon...I have burgers planned for Saturday night...

  6. Kav, I've been dealing with an overheated dog too. One way I cool him down is by giving him an ice cube to lick.

    The main way they cool down though is by panting, so maybe put some ice in a bowl in front of a fan and let it blow cool air at him? Wasn't that the original air conditioning?

    Ruthy, you're making me jealous too. We're on the top two floors of a brownstone so there's not much in the way of options for cooking outdoors. If I did it on the fire escape, I'd be fighting either the squirrels or raccoons. Yeah, who knew wildlife was such a hassle in Brooklyn!

  7. Thanks for the cooling down hot dog suggestions everyone! We're going to be needing them as the week progresses. No break in sight and no rain until maybe the middle of next week. Grass should not crunch!

  8. Grilling is my answer! The gas grill on the deck. :)