Did you think I was going to write about Republican cooking? Sorry, no such luck. We’ll have to discuss political cooking another day. Today, I wanted to remember a topic that used to be common-place but it now much neglected. That is, ways to conserve fuel (energy) while creating meals.

From the early colonial times to the 1950s, farm and housewives were instructed to consider the fuel they used for cooking and baking. Earlier generations, who cooked with wood or coal that someone had to cart inside, were particularly motivated to seek out efficiencies. Today, we mostly just turn on the stove and cook until done. Part of eating green and saving the planet (and our pocketbooks) should always include a consideration of the heat and energy we’re adding to our foods.

Here are ten tips basic help you reduce your energy expenditure in the kitchen:

1) Bake efficiently. Use all the racks in your oven, and bake sequentially to save pre-heating the oven. You can always add some scrubbed potatoes for baked potatoes if nothing else pops in your mind. Or apples in custard dishes with cinnamon and butter. Excellent breakfast or dessert.

2) On top. Use the stovetop over the oven it that’s an option (like for stews, or baked beans).

3) Lids. Tight fitting lids. ALWAYS.

4) Passive heat. Some foods can be cooked in water that came to a boil, and then removed from the heat. Hard-boiled eggs and pasta are two examples. Blanched vegetables are another example– do you really need those green beans soft, or will crunchy work? Oatmeal and other hot cereals can be prepared by adding hot water and cereal to a thermos.

5) Use all hot water. If nothing else, pour it into the sink for when you’ll be washing dishes.

6) Leftovers. Cook in batches, and reheat rather than cooking another full meal. Or, even better, eat it cold.

7) Do it by hand. Do you really need to use an electric mixer for that, or can you whisk it up pretty quickly? *cough* Can opener. *cough*

8) Minimize transportation. Today’s food consumes the most energy during transport when it’s in your car. Can you make fewer trips, ride a bike, walk, or carpool?

9) Solar cooking. A good solar oven can become your crock pot if you have a safe and sunny place to put it.

10) Don’t waste food. Every piece you waste also waste the energy that went into growing, transporting, storing, and cooking it.

Good luck, and feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section!

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