Grub Street had a great story on Wednesday on some of the city's literally hottest kitchens. Alexandra Peers took a thermometer to the backs of eateries all over town, from KFC to Mario Batali's Eataly, and recorded the results in an ordered top-10 list. The hottest: Brooklyn's L&B Spumoni Gardens, at 100.3 degrees. "Despite a wall of fans aimed directly at the staff, every time the ovens opened the temp soared into triple digits, more than ten degrees above the already-sweltering outside reading." The coolest: Rossopomodoro pizzeria at Eataly. "Even directly in front of the pizza ovens it was relatively comfortable in this mega food hall, with a reading several degrees below the temperature outside at the time." This got us thinking: It gets hot in kitchens all over the place when the summer months hit. There have got to be better ways to stay cool and feed yourself than simply living off Gazpacho and peanut butter sandwiches. We rounded up some of our favorites below.
- Counterintuitively, use a crock pot. You don't think about the crock pot as a summer appliance. It's known for making stews and roasts and other meat-and-potatoes winter fare. But it makes all the sense in the world: An electric crock pot cooks at low heat by design, and traps all that heat inside its sealed lid. You put it on before you leave for the day, so you won't even be home in the event that it slightly heats up your hose. All you've got to do is come up with some recipes lighter than that beef bourguignon you made in January, and you're golden. When the Dinner Bell Rings has a few suggestions.
- Make things that are good both hot and cold: To reduce the amount of time you have to spend in the heat, make a lot of something once, eat it hot right away, then have the leftovers cold. The roast beef from the crock pot is perfect for this. Also good: Hard boiled eggs, roast chicken that you can then turn into chicken salad, steamed shrimp, tuna steaks. In fact, the blog Just Bento has a whole post on how to make food that will taste good cold.
- Vent the place well: You probably have a vented hood over the stove, or at least a window in the kitchen. You can't overuse these when you're trying to stay cool. Think about installing a ceiling fan at the overhead kitchen light. There are also ventilation fans you can stick in a kitchen window for the sole purpose of sucking out heat and smells. Throw one of those in and use it instead of the air conditioner while you're cooking. If you want to install some kind of permanent ventilation it may be a good idea, but you should talk to a professional. Meanwhile, home improvement blog Ghar Expert has some photos to give you ideas.
- Check the weather: The California Energy Commission recommends keeping an eye on the forecast, if you're organized enough. "In the summer, pay attention to the long-range weather forecast especially the stretch of sizzling days ahead. Take advantage of the cooler days to prepare a few extra meals and stash them in the freezer. The frozen food will be microwave-ready when you can't face the kitchen during a hot spell." Good tip, State of California!