Do you cook differently in the Winter?

Do you cook differently in the winter?

I know we do. I make a lot more thick soups, stews, and chili. I bake more. Breads, biscuits, cornbread, etc. to go with the soups and stews and casseroles. Oven fried potatoes, roasts, hams and other heartier meals.

It makes sense to heat up the oven in January just like it makes sense not to heat up the oven in July.

A lot fewer salads and not just because the garden doesn't produce dainty lettuces. Salad doesn't seem as nice even though it's available at every supermarket.

As an example, yesterday I made green and white soup in the crockpot. To go with, Bill made fabulous cheese buns.

Green and white soup is easy: homemade chicken stock (from the freezer), frozen chopped greens (kale this time), onions, and potatoes. Season as you like. Bacon bits or ham bits are a nice addition.

Fabulous cheese buns come from the King Arthur Baker's Companion on page 233. They call them (prosaically) cheese rolls.
They are fabulous cheese buns, stuffed with lumps of pepper-jack or horseradish cheese, and they are fabulous. Make a double batch because you'll eat one batch in a single sitting with whatever soup or stew it's alongside.

What do you do?

Sweet Tatorman's picture

Certainly it is different for me. November through May I am more reliant on what I have put up in the freezer. Also in that period I will have something utilizing Winter squash or sweetpotato almost daily but almost never June through October. June through September mushrooms will be fresh foraged but much less frequently October through May when I mostly consume cooked and frozen from the Summer [mostly Chanterelles]. I think I actually have salads a bit more frequently in the Winter but those are more likely to utilize items I have pickled as well as purchased ingredients including purchased canned tomatoes which I prefer over the insipid "fresh" ones from the store. I can generally supply salad greens in the Winter in the form of kale and mustard. For the first time this past year I tried pickling Malabar Spinach as an experiment and was satisfied with the result. Likely I will again though picking enough is fairly tedious. Generally I only have hot soups in the Winter. A new addition this Winter has been Leek-Sweetpotato soup which was a success. Leeks are a Wintertime garden item for me with harvest generally spanning November through April. The Leek-Sweetpotato soup was sufficiently satisfactory that I proceeded to freeze a couple of batches as freezer space became available, ~15 lbs total. Cornbread is a constant for me throughout the year.

Most definitely I cook differently in the winter. More crockpot meals, more things from the oven, soups, lots of things I have canned and fewer salads. I don't mind running the crockpot in the winter to help heat up the house, or roast or bake something in the oven during the winter, but OMG, not in the summer. I will run the crockpot in the summer kitchen, but I avoid cooking anything in the oven in the summer. Just too hot.

Not only do I heat up the house with my winter cooking, but I also heat up my body with my winter dishes. In summer, I always seem to loose weight and really don't want to eat hot things at all. Unfortunately, I have more cold weather recipes and fewer hot weather ones and I end up moving the winter recipes either out to the summer kitchen, or try to adapt them somehow to the summer needs. That doesn't always work so well. I keep my eyes and ears open for hot weather dishes that I feel willing to do.

lathechuck's picture

When in summer heat, we look to pita pockets, stuffed with lettuce, olives, feta cheese, fresh tomatoes, hummus, and sometimes sliced cold-cut meats. A variety of cheeses, greens, flavored hummus, and meats keeps it from getting too boring.

We also cook as much as possible in the microwave oven, such as a mixture of eggs, cheese, milk, vegetables, and herbs. Proportions and details vary. I call it "crustless quiche" (because mixing and rolling out a crust is sometimes too much work). Only the food gets hot, not the whole kitchen.

(BTW: If you're in the market for a new microwave oven, you should be aware that Panasonic sells some with what they call "inverter" technology. It's a meaningless name for giving up the slow on/off cycle of low power which makes some things spatter, in favor of smoother low-power control.)

In the summer, I soak rolled oats in milk with nuts and raisins overnight, and eat it cold. In the winter, I cook it.

Beef and chicken gets roasted for special occasions, but never when the weather is hot enough to justify running the air conditioning.

I will definitely try some of the this summer. Part of my problem is that I have a lot of frozen meat to eat and trying to find non-house-heating ways to fix it is a challenge. I have started using an old fashioned roaster oven/cooker outside in the summer kitchen for a few things. My friend who has more experience with them says her mom used to make pies in them, so quiche could be a more real project for summer.

mountainmoma's picture

In the summer just roast in a solar oven. Go to the Sunoven website for information on how to cook with one, I use one daily for the past 17years or more for more than half the year. They last a very, very long time, so the initial cost over 20 years will work out to be a very large money savings due to not buying gas or electricity for the cooking, as well as hte convenience of using one and not heating up the house in the summer

A good suggestion also, but I always thought they were a little to pricey for me. Maybe it is time to check their price again.

mountainmoma's picture

yes, they are pricey but they pay for themselves over time if you are using it, as you should. I can tell you that they last very well, and I use mine daily for more than half the year. Then, besides regular cooking, there is preparedness, and most preparedness things I buy are used are htere for just in case, this one is used all the time but is also a preparedness item. It works even when yoour utilities are down due to .... earthquake, storm, whatever. You can put it in the car or trailer and use after you bug out if you ever have to. I have used mine while camping and in a park picnic so yes they do work well for that I have tried it.

You could always try building your own solar oven with cardboard boxes and cooking bags.

I have not done this so I can't say if it works or not.

However, I've seen it discussed by Amy Dacyczyn in the Complete Tightwad Gazette (with directions on how to build).
I've also got Beth and Dan Halacy's book: Cooking with the Sun: How to Build and Use Solar Cookers.
It's got directions of all kinds and recipes to use.

Your interlibrary loan will be able to get you both books. Then, you can build a prototype or two and see if you'll actually use the more expensive commercially manufactured solar oven. Or, you may discover that the cardboard and Reynolds Oven Cooking Bag homemade solar oven works just fine to meet your needs.

ClareBroommaker's picture

Just don't leave a cardboard solar oven out in the rain, as we did. Ours was a brown corrugated cardboard box lined with black-painted styrofoam. It had an aluminum foil covered flap to reflect some sun downward. A piece of glass from a photo frame was the lid. The glass edges were taped for safety.

We did splurge for a manufactured solar oven after the rain. It is harder to use in winter because of the sun being so low. We have to tip it forward farther than the manufacturer made provision for. Of course the farther north you are, the more the low winter sun is a factor.

There are some other threads here about solar oven cooking; also on the old site, I think.

mountainmoma's picture

I spent an inordinant amount of time with children building a solar oven out of cardboard, aluminim foil, black paint, and old window, etc.... It did not operate as well as we would have liked, didnt get hot enough realy. It was very hard to transport from inside to outside as it wasnt as sturdy, same for trying to prop up well. It was frankly very disappointing. If you make a homemade one out of plywood and real insulation, it will hold up but will be very heavy, but there are good plans for this if you are strong. We then bought a solar sport solar oven as it was less expensive and held 2 pots and was lightweight to carry, that lasted longer than the cardboard one but the double layer lid had the inner lid delaminate. the reflextive panels also were not holding up well, and it only realy go t hot enough to use as a crock pot or roaster. I did use it for a few years, eventually gave it away to someone who may have repaired the inner lid. Meanwhile, I bought my first Sunoven. The sun ovens are a whole different ball game, they get hot enough to make cookies or brownies even. On a summer day with a sun oven I can cook one thing after another, and they now come with stacking pots, I can also still do a set it and forget it all day 2 pot meal ( bread with soup or cassarole with apple crisp). I found htem expensive, but they do last longer than my kitchen range. I do not hear people complaining about buying an electric range for the kitchen, so I consider the sunoven an actual appliance

I have several plans for a solar cooker, but didn't do anything with them since I never seemed to have time to do one. I have certainly seen plans for the cardboard ones, but again, no experience in making one or using one. Interesting to hear of your experience with the homemade one as compared to the Sunoven. I guess you get what you paid for. How much time to you spend adjusting your Sunoven to keep it directed towards the sun?

mountainmoma's picture

Completely depends on what I am cooking. For long cooking items, I set it and forget it. Truly. come back at dark after the kids soccer game to food still warm in it and serve, so leave it for all day or half the day. that is for cassaroles, soups, breads, etc.... when doing that you set it "ahead" for where the sun is going to be, so it just kind of preheats on lower heat, later it hits full temp, then the heat goes lower again and it stays warm. It is very hard to burn food in a sun oven. At 4-H county fair camping, pull the half frozen soup out of the cooler, put in the sun oven and go away and late in the day have dinner warm.

Now, if I am cooking something quick, which I do sometimes now but not when I was busy with kids on the go, something like hardboiled eggs or cookies, then I aim it directly at the sun angle for the high heat I want and it cooks at the normal rate, so cookies done in 10 minutes, etc...

So, if using it as a crock pot or roasting meat, you dont keep readjusting, you just leave it all day if you want. If you are cooking something to get crisp and high heat and it cooks fast ( cookies, hard boiled eggs, bacon) then of course you have to sick around.

That makes sense. I think I would probably be using it in the set it and forget it mode due to various other tasks away from home that I have to do. Something to think about.

ClareBroommaker's picture

We tend to reorient our solar oven very frequently. I prefer every twenty minutes or so. We are both home most of the time, so one or the other can do it. I have to admit that my husband does most of the oven tending as I keep zapping my retinas with reflected sun, which is not good! However, sometimes it is convenient to just set the orientation so that the sun eases to full-on, then eases back off so that we can be away for a while and then come home to a hot stew or chicken or whatever.

Have I showed this before? Bacon. We only did this once. It came out more chewy than crispy. Maybe someone else knows how to get it to crisp. We normally use bacon cured without water, so I don't think that was the problem. The reflective vanes look weird here because you are seeing reflections of reflections.

add photo: 

Not sure I could turn it that frequently as somethings like garden chores in the community garden wouldn't allow for so much attention. I think the set and forget is more my speed.

I'm thinking here of our solar dryer. Turning it was always annoying but necessary to speed up drying of veg and fruit.
For the solar oven, it looks like setting it on a low table on casters would make it much easier to turn to face the sun as it moves through the day.

Of course that's another piece of equipment to move, store, and maintain.