By Nicole Montesano • Staff Writer • 

Keeping your cool in the kitchen

Ideally, check the forecast and plan accordingly

If only I’d gotten the jam finished earlier.

If I’d finished the strawberry jam on Wednesday, then Thursday I could have made quiche and pizza to see us through the heat wave, and then I wouldn’t have had to cook when the forecast was threatening temperatures in the 90s.

Sometimes I think I live in the house that Jack built.

Now I’m the matron all forlorn,

Facing the stove on a very hot morn,

Feeling distinctly tattered and torn,

Searching frantically through my book,

Looking for something quick to cook,

And all because I was late with the jam

Due entirely to failure to plan.

I hate it when that happens.

Theoretically, one checks the forecast well in advance and then cleverly plans — and cooks! — ahead, so as not to have to turn on the oven when temperatures are already at broiling.

The problem is that dividing line between theory and reality.

But let’s assume you’re in the same boat — ignoring the fact that we’d be a lot cooler in a boat — and contemplate the options. They include:

  • Suggesting the spouse grill something delicious. Assuming you have grillable items on hand and a spouse.
  • Serving salad for supper — perhaps a nice, hearty salad with cheese and chunks of hard-boiled egg, and slices of bread and butter.
  • Setting up a hot plate and/or toaster oven in the garage.
  • Making something fast, like stir-fry.
  • Ordering takeout. I find this more feasible for one day than for a lengthy span.
  • Cooking late in the evening, or early in the morning.
  • Opting for a combination of home-cooked food and processed prepared food. Say, potato salad with hot dogs (meatless, in our house), and baked beans. This year, I’m hoping to can some homemade baked beans —sometime when the weather is cooler, like maybe October.

The classics are fine for this sort of thing; deviled eggs, pasta salads, green salads, fruit salad, etc. Also consider various cold meals — cheese, bread, various sorts of pickles and maybe hard-boiled eggs, or hummus with pita bread, tomatoes, maybe some feta, and so forth. You can get creative if you’re so inclined, or keep it as simple as possible if you’re feeling wilted. Simple, fresh cold meals can be quite appealing in hot weather.

When you do turn on the stove, use it efficiently, and make a lot of food at once that can be eaten cold or quickly reheated. Pizza and scones both like high temperatures and short baking times, for example, and meanwhile, you might be boiling eggs and potatoes. When the oven cools down a bit, you could put in a custard. Vanilla custard with raspberries makes a lovely summer breakfast.

A simple quiche might serve for lunches or suppers; asparagus with cheddar, maybe. Make a soup to go with it, and you’ll be set for at least a day or two, depending on the size of the household.

Cold soups are another option, and very refreshing in fiery temperatures. Stock some good bread and cheese to round it out, and maybe add another salad.

Whether you master this important skill this time around or not, make a mental note of what worked and what didn’t. There’s bound to be another opportunity to practice this summer.

Contact Nicole Montesano at

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