‘Doubling up’ the oven keeps electricity low, flavors high

Posted Tuesday, Jul. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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It's so hot but I'm still learning ways to cut down on using the oven, saving water and electricity. Yes, and ladies will understand this, I am not pleasant when I am hot and sweating. So the "Mikester" and I have a running "discussion" regarding where the A.C. thermostat should be set. I prefer 74, quite pleasant, and he prefers 75. Now that doesn't sound like much of a difference but in our unit, that one degree seems to make a big difference...and so the discussion will continue. Guess I'll use a couple of fans, as needed.

I picked about four quarts of roma and cherry tomatoes and made my new and improved salsa which I'll share. I have begun watering by the sprinkle system only about once or twice a week, in the dark before sunrise. This gives water the chance to sink in before the sun hits the plants and evaporation begins. By using individual metal sprinklers, I am able to watch closely which areas of our yard are showing heat stress. Anything not planted by now, is potted and put under the shade of a big Crepe Myrtle. And every evening or at first light, I hand water small and young plantings. So far, everything is alive-though the daylilies have slowed down blooming and I don't blame them!

We entertained some folks and I tried out my chocolate layer dessert, which I like because the recipe calls for using very little electricity.

Dee Dee's Summer Salsa

This turned out nice and I was pleasantly surprised. We are keeping it in the fridge tightly covered. This morning, I made an omelet and the salsa was in the middle, so it's not just being used as a dip with tostado chips.

I kept picking tomatoes over the course of a week and filled up a Pyrex 4-quart bowl. I rinsed the tomatoes and dropped them in boiling water for about 2-3 minutes, or until the skins began to open. Drain the tomatoes and let cool.

Using a food processor, I put all the following ingredients in the food processor and pulsed until it was the consistency I liked.

8 whole cloves of garlic-no skins

• 2 jalapenos, seeded and cut in large pieces

The tops cut off from 1/2 bunch fresh Cilantro

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (Taste it as you go.)

Juice of one fresh lime

Pinch sugar

•  For a hotter salsa, add a Serrano pepper, or one more jalapeno.

With all the summer squash coming in, I like to experiment with various recipes and not just boil or grill them.

Thompson's Mexican Squash

2 1/2 pounds summer squash (like yellow, zucchini, or pattypan.) cubed or sliced

4 eggs

1/2 cup milk

3/4 pound Monterrey Jack cheese, cubed or grated

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 Tablespoons flour

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

One (4 ounce) can chopped green chiles

1 1/2 cups crushed tostados

Cook squash in 2 cups water until barely tender, about 7 minutes at a boil. Drain and cool in colander. Mix eggs, milk, cheese, salt, baking powder, flour, parsley and chiles together. Fold into squash. Butter an oblong Pyrex dish and sprinkle the bottom with crushed tostado crumbs. Pour in squash mixture. Sprinkle top with more crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I cook this in our smaller oven and I usually cook something else in that oven, so I don't have to "double up" on electricity.

Dee Dee's Summer Layered Cake

This is both easy and quite good.

Layer 1:

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped pecans (can use walnuts)

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1 stick butter, melted

Layer 2:

8 ounces cream cheese-softened

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup Cool Whip (out of larger sized container)

Layer 3:

One (3 3/4 ounces) instant chocolate pudding

One (3 3/4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding

3 cups whole milk

Remainder of Cool whip

Assembly:

Layer 1:

Mix flour, chopped nuts and powdered sugar together. Add the melted butter and mix all together. Press with hands into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Layer 2:

Mix cream cheese, one cup powder sugar, and 1 cup of cool Whip. Spread over the first layer.

Layer 3:

Mix chocolate and vanilla pudding mixes with three cups of milk. Beat until thick and spread on second layer of the cake. For topping, spread the remainder of the Cool Whip from the carton. I like to sprinkle chopped nuts on top, or small chocolate chip morsels. Refrigerate until serving, about 1-2 hours.

This is a good make-ahead dessert.

I just checked the A.C. thermostat and it's set on 75-the Mikester "wins" again. Maybe I'll thank him when the next bill arrives.

Have a great week but keep those pets cool and hydrated!

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