It gets hot in the summer here in Tennessee, and electricity can be pricey. Here’s how to keep your kitchen cool during the summer!
Keeping the Kitchen Cool!
Okay, so you can only eat so many salads and sandwiches in the summertime, and (as I mention in #2), I can’t run my ceiling fan while simultaneously cooking on my gas range. Over the years I’ve discovered a lot of tricks to keep the heat factor down, and these are my 9 suggestions for how to keep your kitchen cool during the summer!
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1. Breville Smart Oven
This is probably my number one “keep the kitchen cool” tool. Before I had the Breville I had a cheapie toaster oven from Walmart, and it did a pretty good job too. My in-laws got me this for my birthday a few years ago, and honestly it is probably the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten. I mean, besides my car that I got when I turned 16, of course. The Breville Smart Oven is large enough to fit my 9×11 USA Pan cake pan, a 12-cup muffin tin, and my 10-inch cast iron skillet. Plus, it bakes, roasts, toasts, broils, etc., etc. There is virtually no reason for me to turn my oven on from the time the temps outside get into the 80s (which happened in April here) until cooler weather hits in the fall.
2. Instant Pot
Did anyone question whether I was going to put this on the list? Doubtful. It’s no secret that I’m pretty much obsessed with this appliance. I use it weekly, year-round. If the Smart Oven was the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten, the Instant Pot was the best Christmas gift (thanks, Mom!). It’s great for roasts, soups, stews, and even one-pot pasta dishes. Really! And yes, I know you can pressure cook on the stovetop, but I use my Instant Pot for a lot of things that I would do on the stovetop because it allows me to keep the ceiling fan in my kitchen running. Ceiling fans are essential in a Tennessee summer, but when you have a gas range, you have to turn them off while you’re cooking on the stovetop. No need with the Instant Pot!
3. Slow Cooker
The next best thing to an Instant Pot! Honestly, I don’t own a slow cooker anymore…I gave mine away when I realized that I had only used it once after a year of having the Instant Pot! But…the Instant Pot has a slow cooker function and I do use that, so it counts. I probably don’t have to try to sell you on the usefulness of an appliance that (a) doesn’t heat up the kitchen; (b) does the work of cooking for you while you’re out for the day; and (c) is super-affordable.
Another great gift, this time from my husband. The Vitamix is a thing of beauty. Not only can you mix up the obvious cooling summer treats (smoothies, milkshakes, etc.), it’s also powerful enough to whip up creamy hummus, smooth as silk salad dressings, and perfect salsa that just requires dumping in all of your ingredients (I never chop anything beforehand). And – get this – you can even make soup in it. I don’t mean that you can puree soup in it. I mean the motor is so powerful that if you let it run long enough it will heat your soup. That’s for real, people.
5. Food Processor
Obviously, this is along the same lines as the Vitamix. I usually use my food processor instead of the blender to make hummus, pesto, etc., just because it’s easier to scrape stuff out of the blades (since they’re removable and all). I love cold dips for lunch and snacks, and the food processor is my go-to for making them.
Maybe this is the most obvious one on the list? I mean, who doesn’t love grilling in the summer? I’m not going to lie, I don’t even really know how to turn my grill on. I guess we fall into the “the guy does the grilling” category, but I’ve told Philip that I want to learn to grill this summer. There is just something about that slightly charred taste of a freshly grilled chicken leg or burger that you can’t get from even the best pan-fried burger (and pan-fried burgers are my favorite, but when you want a grilled burger, you need a grilled burger). Plus, you get to cook outside. All you need is a beer and maybe a picnic table? We use propane, but my dad swears by his Weber charcoal grill (there have been many iterations of this exact grill at my parents’ house since my childhood).
So…this is hotly contested – should smokers be powered by gas or charcoal? How about electricity??? That’s totally my cop-out. We like smoked meat but we do not want to babysit our smoker. I mean, we’re stuck at home (which is great for an introvert like me) but I don’t want to have to watch my smoker to make sure it doesn’t catch anything on fire. With my electric smoker, I load it up with chips and let it go, just watching to see if smoke stops pouring out of it, then I add more chips. Smoked meat = happy Mary. I mean, even just the smell of the smoker makes me happy. And, like the grill, you can totally hang out outside if you’re watching it.
8. Cuisinart Griddler
This contraption is the newest addition to my kitchen, and I haven’t made a grilled cheese on the stovetop since I bought it. It’s a contact grill, a panini press, and a griddle. And mine is actually a 6-in-1, which includes waffle iron plates. So, you know, you can waffle anything (like tater tots or cinnamon rolls). The 6-in-1 is a Bed, Bath, and Beyond exclusive.
This one honestly surprised me! Several people asked me in classes that I have done for The Chattery if I had ever considered doing an air fryer class. Well, honestly – I had never even considered getting an air fryer! After so many people asked, I asked my Facebook followers about it and a ton of people told me that they were completely in love with their air fryer. I decided to take the plunge. I have only had it for about a month now so I haven’t made a ton of things in it, but some of the things that I have made include: homemade fries, fried squash, chicken tenders, frozen spring rolls, and reheated pizza. It’s basically a mini convection oven, and it is so convenient to have around!