Thursday, July 30, 2009

If you can't stand the heat....

Yes, I really did take a picture of my thermostat! It's too hot to much else. The kids stand in the other room and blow me hugs because we don't want any heat sources that close to our bodies! My bubba doesn't want me to hug OR kiss him because he said I feel like hot and sticky stuff. Well, I nevah!

I am trying to keep the electric bill at least lower than the national deficit. We keep it off during the day and use it at night so we can sleep better. I just couldn't do it today. I set it to 80 and I still heard it come on several times and the coolest it got in the house was 83.

I know this is South Texas and all but it just seems hotter than usual. Every spring and fall I sing songs about the joy of living in Texas and write poetry about the perfectly beautiful days. Every summer I ask WHY!?!? This summer still seems worse than past summers. Maybe it is because we have only had 3" of rain so far this year. Last year we had so much rain that my chickens thought they were ducks and started quacking! They spent so much time in puddles I feared their feet would become webbed!

This summer has been dry. Everyone keeps saying it isn't as humid this year, and that sounds like a good thing but I think it isn't. Humid means moisture, moisture comes from rain, rain makes things green. Our grass isn't green, it is a nice straw color. I have always said that I wanted to get rid of the grass to make way for a bigger garden but in this heat and drought my garden is barely hanging on.

This really used to be grass. Very green tall grass that my happy hens loved to feast on. Now they dig holes and roll in the dirt. They always make the best of an awful situation! If life gives you dirt, take a dirt bath!

In the spirit of full disclosure (I would hate to be called dramatic or an exaggerator) I will admit that there still are a few small patches of green in my yard. Little oases of life that I feel guilty mowing when most everything else is dying.
This isn't just an excuse to show off my 'mid century' vintage thermostat! I wanted a good reason to show once again how clever I am. I'm not bragging, my mom tells me I am clever all the time. If I'm going to sweat my hiney off trying to save money by not using the AC during the day then why in the world would I add more heat to the house by using the stove or oven? I usually cook 3 times a day that can make the house unbearable. So here is where the clever comes in...

First I tried baking my bread in my big nesco roaster out on the back porch. The pans fit in just right. I set them on metal racks so the bottoms wouldn't burn. Everything came out great.

With the bread made we were able to have sandwiches for lunch instead of having to cook something.

Lunch out of the way, only one meal left. I put the last of our garden potatoes in the nesco and set it baking at 400. I cut up some sausage, poured BBQ sauce over it and topped with our homegrown bell peppers (store bought onions) and set them beside the potatoes. I cooked it all until the spuds were done and the BBQ sauce was sizzling. Came out wonderful. I even made dessert in it. Cinnamon rolls made with the extra bread dough from the bread I made earlier. The desserts rarely survive long enough for me to photograph so I am guessing the gang liked it.

If You Can't Stand the Heat
Get out of the Kitchen!
and onto the back porch

Update: many asked how I do my bread, what kind of pans I use, how long it takes, etc. so here are answers to some of those questions:

I use Norpro 8 Inch Nonstick Bread Pan bread pans that measure 8"x4"x3" deep.
They can also be purchased at Urban Homemaker.

I use agave as my sweetener so when I bake my bread I use a lower temperature than you would if you used regular sugar. I bake my bread between 325 and 350 for 45 min. If using regular sugar the recipe calls for cooking it at 375. Some days it seems to cook quicker than others. It probably has to do with how much dough I put in each pan. My recipe actually fills 5 of the norpro pans but only 4 fit in the roaster. I put 4 loaves in for regular bread and the fifth dough ball gets turned into cinnamon bread which I also cook in the roaster after the first batch of bread is done.

I use a metal cooling rack on the bottom of my roaster to set my baking pans on. That keeps them from burning. I take the lid off to check if it is done otherwise I leave the lid on.

I have made cobbler, cinnamon rolls, casseroles, bacon and even toast in my roaster. I try and do all my cooking outside because I don't like to heat the house.


Dove Soup said...

You are indeed the cleverest of the clever and I love you to bits!

Pine Cone Homestead said...

Very clever! I'm amazed at your inventiveness. May I ask how you did the bread? How big are the loaves and where did you find small loaf pans? I'd love to put my roaster to the same jobs. I have always used it only for roasting birds or huge pots of chili to freeze. I love buying new appliances (that I can't afford) to make new fun in the kitchen but you've just shown me how to make new fun in my old, rarely used roaster. Thanks for that!!

Linda said...

so...just because I have never done something like this AND because I have an old roaster in my DO put the lid on, right? do you open it to check it? how long did things take to cook!?sorry so many questions, but I really want to know. i am loving this idea. i want to do solar cooking but this might be my intermediate stage!

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