Picture by rwkvisual
It's finally heating up out there! Since we don't have air conditioning, the last thing I want to do when it's nearly 100-degrees out is heat up my kitchen with the oven. So my crockpot is my trusty kitchen companion during these hot days. Sure, it still emits a little heat but not that much, and it uses less electricity than my oven. I've found this great cookbook (Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker), and I'm using it--so much so that my husband asked nicely if we could please stop trying new recipes and return to some of our usual meals!
Hot summer days mean I'm also plugging in my bread machine rather than preheating my oven. I was ready to bake bread yesterday morning, but it was already 80-degrees at 5AM! I decided to pass. So, while I prefer bread baked in the oven over the bread machine, I'll take a bread machine loaf.
Speaking of baking bread, a friend came over and taught me how to do it right. Not only did we bake loaves of bread, we also made hamburger buns, dinner rolls and flour tortillas. You can see the pictures here.
On that note, one of the girls staying with us for the summer is allergic to corn and all its derivatives. Do you know how many items contain corn syrup? A ton! Even things that would surprise you--like raisin bran cereal, Total, and more (I could only find two cereals that do not contain any corn syrup or corn flour: Oatmeal Squares and Wheat Chex).
While I am not in the camp that considers corn syrup evil, I do agree its consumption should be limited for health reasons. Regardless of my personal preferences, right now cutting out the corn syrup (and other corn products) is a necessity in our house as I cook for my family and our guests. Removing it from one's diet requires a bit of work, since it is in so many things these days, but it's not that hard. The secret lies in making most things from scratch (or finding the purest form in the store of what one wants to eat).
Other cooking notes, I turned several pounds of ground round into freezer meals for the family. I prepped a meatloaf and froze it, made two pans of porcupine balls (a recipe in our church cookbook), and made a master meat sauce that I froze in one and two cup portions and used for sloppy joes and pasta fagioli and have yet to use for burritos, mini-pizzas, and/or spaghetti. A few extra minutes of work on the front end saves me time later (and helps me keep my kitchen clean, which is always a good thing)! :)
Finally, on that note, I just want to reiterate the tip that when meats hit a great price, if you can afford it, buy a bunch! I'm so impressed with the number of recipes in Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker for various cuts of meat (ground beef, round steak, roasts, chicken breasts/drumsticks/thighs/wings, pork chops/roasts, etc. There are vegetarian dishes as well). It would be super easy to find a few recipes, prep them by adding the ingredients and the meat in a freezer bag, and then pull out dinner later to thaw and place in the slow cooker (or oven). Saves time and money!
If you have a kitchen tip you'd like to share, or a recipe you've made,or a bulk cooking experience you've had, please link to your post below. As a simple courtesy, please add a link somewhere in your post back to this post. Thanks!