When It’s Too Hot to Cook, Small Appliances Are Your BFF
Low-wattage oven substitutes help you eat well while staying cool.
Summer can be a frustrating season for a cook. Though so many of our favorite foods—corn, eggplant, peaches (hello, cobbler)—are at their peak, triple-digit temperatures and unrelenting humidity mean that there’s no way we want to turn on the oven. That’s when we turn to the small appliances, kitchen helpers that can do the work of an oven with a fraction of the heat.
Good for more than heating up leftovers, the microwave oven does an excellent job of cooking vegetables. Corn on the cob (no need to shuck it first), green beans, potatoes, and zucchini all cook in minutes. Microwaves also work magic on fresh fish.
Though you will have to turn on the stove (unless you have an Instant Pot), a pressure cooker makes quick work of long-cooking foods like beans and tough cuts of meat. Use it to make a fast chicken stew or a corn and tomato risotto.
It’s not quick, but a slow cooker does its job without giving off a lot of heat. When you’re craving beans, a stew, or want to cook some beets, pull out the Crock-Pot and let it do its job overnight.
Filling the kitchen with steam from a pot of boiling water in midsummer is not something we’re keen on doing, which is why our kettle gets a workout once the mercury starts popping. Leave the sauce pot in the cupboard when you need hot water for blanching vegetables, peeling tomatoes or stone fruit, or cooking rice noodles. Your kettle can do the job a lot faster, with way less heat.
No need to turn on the big oven if you’ve got a little one on the counter. Most toaster ovens have a baking function and can cook almost anything a larger one can. Use it to roast eggplants, potatoes, and even chicken, without overheating your kitchen. Turn it on when you need a cook a small salmon fillet or sausages.
illustration by @boccaccinimeadows