If you can’t stand the heat, cool down the kitchen!
It seems like only yesterday we were complaining about the seemingly endless winter. Snow in April? Kuh! What’s that all about? And now that we’ve reached the other end of the mercury level, with soaring summer temperatures for the first time in years, it feels like there’s just as much to gripe about. For a start, how are we supposed to go about normal, everyday tasks like preparing family meals when it seems like we’re about to melt?
Always the hottest room in the house, the kitchen can be unbearable when temperatures climb to the mid-20s and beyond. With no end in sight for the current summer heatwave, here are our top five tips for keeping your cool in the kitchen.
1. Can’t cook, won’t cook
The simplest solution of all – don’t cook. Who wants a hot meal when the sun’s beating down anyway? Then again, the same old salads every day can quickly become monotonous. Try a few of these cold treats to help your family cool down:
- Gazpacho. Cold soup or liquid salad? Whatever you call it, this Spanish dish is a summer classic and guaranteed to chill you out.
- Posh sarnies. Sandwiches don’t have to be boring. With a thick-sliced, crusty loaf from the bakery and some refreshing deli-bought fillers, the lunchtime staple can become a gourmet dinner treat. Try combinations you wouldn’t have normally to liven up your meals – how about apricot and goat’s cheese, or pesto, feta and pear?
- Sharing platters. Load a tray with cold treats such as olives, crispbreads, cheeses, cold meats, dips, crudites, etc. and enjoy some al fresco Tapas in the garden.
- Waldorf salad wraps. Whip up a Waldorf with walnuts, apples, leaves, grapes and dressing and serve in a tortilla wrap.
- Filled pitta – spread with houmous or guacamole and load up with cold chicken, shredded veg, tuna or anything else you fancy.
2. Eat out(doors)
Nothing says “Great British Summertime” like a pillar of smoke and the smell of charred meat. Blackened sausages and extra-rare steaks may be the order of the day when Dad dons his pinny and fires up the barbecue, but it just wouldn’t be summer without it – and cooking in the open air is a great way to stay cool while still enjoying a cooked meal.
Alternatively, load up a picnic basket and enjoy a packed dinner in the park, by the river or just out in the garden!
3. Binge cook
If you must have a full cooked meal every evening without fail, try to limit the damage by cooking up a large batch of one-pot dinners such as curries, chillis and soups all in one go. They can then be frozen and defrosted for eating later. Avoid overheating by doing your cooking in the morning while it’s cooler – or in the middle of the night!
4. Unplug the oven
The oven is the single biggest source of heat in your kitchen, so unless you’re a baking addict it’s best to avoid firing it up during a heatwave. The microwave can be your friend here – it doesn’t generate much heat at all and can cook many of the meals you would usually use the oven for. Hob-top meals will also generate less heat than oven-baked, particularly if you are lucky enough to have an induction hob, and using a pressure cooker can greatly reduce your cooking time too. Don’t forget to cover your pots to keep heat in, and chop meat and veg up nice and small – the smaller the chunks, the less cooking time is needed for your meal.
5. Don’t multi-task
The kitchen is bound to be at its hottest while several devices are running at once. Save the washing machine, coffee-maker and dishwasher until after your food is prepared – preferably run them in the early morning or late evening, when it’s cooler, or just before you leave for work.