Summer cooking: are you hot?

People keep saying this summer is a scorcher, but when I step outside I don’t notice a big difference.

Maybe that’s because we’re living without air conditioning in South Texas, where it has been 100 degrees nearly every day.  We are doing this because it is saving us roughly $200/month.  Honestly, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  The human body is an amazing creation, and we have acclimated rather well, I think.  We have also learned some new tricks, or at least improved upon our old tricks.

I think it should be obvious that one lifestyle choice – living without a/c – begets other lifestyle choices.  We don’t cook in the house.

We do use the toaster and the microwave in the house, and we even boil water for the French press, but that’s all.  Instead of heating up the house, we cook outside.  Believe me, the house is hot enough already!

  • Instead of the oven, we use the roaster.
  • Instead of pots on the stovetop, we use the crockpot.
  • Instead of the griddle on the stovetop, we use our snazzy new enormous electric griddle, purchased with Amazon gift cards earned from Swagbucks.  Can you see me smiling?  That baby has room for 12 pancakes, 12 slices of french toast, or 12 grilled cheese sandwiches!  Tonight, we had pork loin, sliced and breaded and fried.  mmmm.   8 lbs. of tender, juicy spicy pig was done to perfection in a flash, thanks to Deanna.  She cooked on the deck, and we ate on the deck.
  • Instead of cooking hot food, we can now make smoothies in our new blender, also courtesy of Swagbucks.
  • Or we enjoy sandwiches, salads, veggie trays, and fresh fruit.  I think we’re averaging 5-6 large watermelons/week.  No, I’m not kidding.

How are you staying cool this summer?


  1. faith marandola says:

    We are in New Jersey here, we don’t have ac either. It is super humid here. We have a fan system, in a room where a baby is napping or we are sleeping, we create a draft by placing a fan in each of two window sills. We point in and one out. Works well to improve fresh air flow and it keeps the humidity from building in a closed off room. In the livingroom, we place a powerful fan in the window across from the bottom of the stairs and turn in on high moving fresh air in, we open a window upstairs (room directly across from the upstairs landing) and put another powerful fan pointing out. This creates a fresh stream of air across the livingroom and does not allow the heat to build upstairs in the evening hours. Works for us…its been a mild summer so far, but the days of upper 90’s will appear soon enough… 😉 …

  2. Sheila,
    Swagbucks are rewards for using the search engine. Just join, and then anytime you do a web search, just use the swag engine instead of It looks and acts very similar, but random users are awarded “bucks” that can be redeemed for prizes.
    My prize of choice is a $5 Amazon gift certificate. 🙂

  3. Okay, what are Swagbucks? I want some…

  4. Our heat pump died last year and since then we put window ac units in.

    We only have 3 of them though for a 800 sq. ft house. But we live at the top of a hill with not too many trees to speak of so it gets pretty warm. We live about 35 miles outside of Dallas.

    We’ve been contemplating turning our window units off and just dealing with the heat. I get miserable though being all sweaty. Nothing worse than a houseful of sweaty kids (try 9 of them!!!) and a sweaty Mama. 😛

    You are an encouragement to me that it can be done!!!!

    I guess we’d adjust… but I’m afraid to make the leap! 😀

  5. laura,
    Some of the children complain, others don’t. I encourage them to play in the water, drink ice water, etc.
    I’ve been pleasantly surprised and very encouraged by how un-miserable we’ve been since the initial adjustment period.
    We get hot, but it’s no worse than the 80-something days we used to suffer through.
    I should add that while my husband is a Texan, I’m a Pacific Northwester like you, born and bred in Portland, OR with a healthy helping of Alaskan Indian blood. I should be more at home up north, but I get cold too easily. Texas is perfect for me.

  6. Oops – grandma wouldn’t boil it in milk – she used water. Just to clarify.

  7. I’ve been following the ham thread. 🙂 I can’t remember where I had that before, but I do remember eating the crusty brown stuff that bubbled up to the top of the milk! My grandma’s method of cooking ham was she’d boil it a little first to get the salt out, drain, then bake it a bit and put a glaze on. It tasted GREAT and didn’t make you drink gallons of water afterwards.

  8. Hi, Kim–

    My aunt perfected the ham with milk method, and I’m working on it myself, so I’ll tell you what I’ve done. The milk helps to draw out some of the saltiness of the ham, and changes the texture slightly–kind of tenderizes it, I think. I don’t put potatoes or anything else in because they would end up pretty salty. I just discard the milk when I’m done. When I’ve done this in the crockpot, the milk doesn’t curdle, but when I’ve done it in the oven, it does (the oven method I’m still working on, when the weather gets cooler). I think the longer the cooktime, the better. The outer part of the ham may get black, but that doesn’t affect the inside.

    My family always says it makes the ham taste more “real”–meaning it tastes much better than slicing it up and microwaving it!


  9. We did the no a/c thing in the summer of 2003 here in FL. It is amazing how it changes your lifestyle – and there is a bit of satisfying pioneer simplicity in it all. We bought about five box fans and placed them all over the house, in addition to the ceiling fans that are in every room. We taught the children to wipe themselves down with a wet washcloth whenever they were hot and then sit in front of a fan for a few minutes. Instant a/c! Showers right before bed helped us fall asleep without that sticky feeling. After they’d swim we’d let them wear their swim clothes until they weren’t dripping – then keep them on as long as they wanted. If we hadn’t had a pool we would have hose them off, used a sprinkler or something. Wearing damp clothes for hours really keeps you cool!
    THANK YOU for the griddle link – my old one died and I’ve been cooking 4 pancakes at a time for my crew…
    You know – once I seasoned my cast iron pans in my covered gas grill – by preheating it and then keeping one burner on low, the oven temp in there registered 350… I could try baking bread in there! I’m going to have to try this today.

  10. Kim,

    hats off to you!! no a/c?! wow – we live in central california. It was 110 today and i was hot even with the air on!

    I am a Pacific Northwesterner by birth and just don’t tolerate the heat well.

    We do have a pool and if we use it consistently i am able to turn the a/c way down for at least a portion of every day.

    Do your kids complain about being hot?

  11. Hello,
    As I live in northern Europe, the Netherlands, we don’t have dry heat overhere, but very humid heat. And, oh boy, that is terrible! You can’t move as you are all sweaty and your feet swell up even. But we have a seaclimat, so maybe the next week it will be cool and rainy…you can never tell overhere. That is why it’s so difficult to get used to the heat when it comes, as it wil mostly only last one or two weeks. I’ve been to southern Europe too and to Ethiopia, and I could stand the heat there much better. We just stayed inside during the midday and helt a siesta (sleep)!
    Well, I wish you good luck with the heat and I hope that you can keep your house cool..
    Greetings from Mama Lieveheersbeestje.

    • Mama Lieveheersbeestje,
      Here in South Texas, we have rather humid heat too. We’re just a couple of hours from the Gulf of Mexico. I agree that the humidity level makes a huge difference in the comfort level. Some days are thoroughly tolerable at 100, while others are miserable at 90.

  12. I was getting all set to switch to hot weather cooking, but our summer here in Michigan has turned out much cooler than we expected. Not great for those who want to swim in the Big Lakes, but for those of us who are at home, it’s a real treat to keep the A/C off because it’s cooler without it. It’s also been a real treat to have the Oven On for Cookies or something equally pleasurable.

    Even so, I am using my crockpot today to do a ham for our midday meal. Just a plain ham with 3/4 to a cup of milk and on low for 5+ hours makes a great dish and doesn’t heat the house up.

    • Krista,
      Plain ham with milk?! I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’m intrigued. How does it turn out? What does the milk “do”?

  13. What happened to the solar oven? My DH brought home a big cardboard box a couple of days ago to make one up. Of course we haven’t had a lot of sun this past week and temps only in the 60’s. It has been pleasant for us and no A/C needed. I don’t know how you do it with no A/C. We spent five years in Texas (1 1/2 in DFW and 3 1/2 in San Antonio.) We never adjusted. But we are born Pacific Northwesterners. Texas just wasn’t our cup of tea. Michigan is much more our style. (The ants are black not red…lol.)

    • Cyndi,
      The solar oven didn’t work out for us. We have too much wind on our deck and too much traffic. And when it wasn’t in use, I really didn’t have a good place to store it. We gave it up for the time being, though I’m sure we’ll revisit the idea some day.
      I wonder if Jenny is still using hers?

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