By Larraine Roulston:
Without a doubt, climate change is real and we must adapt. Not only do our collective governments need to make policies to protect their resources, but also all homemakers, chefs and short order cooks need to minimize stress on our planet by reducing their carbon emission.
There are many small things a cook can do to reduce the amount of energy and water used in the kitchen. If you are up for the challenge to become an efficient “green” chef, read on.
- Soak dried beans, lentils, rice, oats and barley overnight to cook more quickly.
- Allow frozen meat to thaw in the fridge before cooking.
- Cook more than you need for one meal, then freeze the remainder in manageable portions. Casseroles, soups and most desserts work well.
- Beets in particular take a long time to cook so should be done in a large quantity, either boiled or cut and peeled to toss into an oven with a meal.
- When cooking potatoes, add more to the pot or oven to pan fry the next day.
- If you enjoy steel-cut oats for breakfast, measure a cup of water into a pot and add an equal amount of oats to soak all day. In the evening, rinse them, then add 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Turn off the element and let sit overnight. In the morning, they will be cooked. Measure out what you require and store the remainder in the fridge.
- Water boiled in a kettle requires less energy than if heated in a pot. Use just enough water for the amount you need.
- To keep your fridge from working overtime, allow food to cool. A fridge’s cooling system also works best when the fridge is full; therefore, if your shelves are sparse, add a few jars of drinking water.
- Lessen cooking time of veggies by cutting them into small pieces. Use a minimum of water and, once boiling, reduce the heat. When using pots or pans, place them on the burner that matches their size. Keep lids on. Dinner plates can be warmed if used as a lid. Avoid peeking during cooking time.
- Both the pressure cooker and slow cooker are energy saving devices. And a toaster oven is more efficient than a regular oven.
- Use ceramic and glass oven dishes. When cooking an oven dinner, include as many things as possible. At this time, choose to roast veggies. If room allows, add a tray of muffins. Pumpkin for soups and pies also can be baked. First, cut the pumpkin into wedges, and scoop out pulp and seeds. Place it shell side up in 1/4” of water. Leave uncovered for about 1 hour or until tender. When cool, cut away the skin. For a crunchy snack, sprinkle the seeds with salt and drizzle with olive oil, and bake until brown. Turn the heat off 5-10 minutes before time is up; the food will continue to cook.
- Use the dishwasher only when full. Avoid placing knives and wooden spoons inside. Hot water will dull knives, and wooden spoons may slip and be trapped on a heater which may, in turn, cause a fire.
- When washing dishes by hand, have enough dishes to make the soap you use worthwhile. By rinsing plates and cutlery in a bowl of warm water first, the dishpan soapy water will remain cleaner and hotter throughout the task.
Larraine writes illustrated children’s adventure books on composting and pollinating. Visit www.castlecompost.com