Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dealing with Summer Heat

Summer heat has begun to settle in here.  Lots of muggy days recently.  This has brought to the forefront thoughts of ways I have to adjust my choring and even meal preparation.
Choring without electricity is generally a more physical endeavor.  When summer's heat is upon you, the most physical tasks can become very difficult.  We don't have fans or air conditioning to keep cool and comfortable while doing our tasks.  We depend on a breeze coming in the windows to cool the house.  I find that the most labor intensive tasks have to be done in the early morning.  Tending the garden becomes the first task once breakfast is dealt with.  By 10:00am, the day can become too hot to work in the garden without risking heat exhaustion. 
The next task is laundry.  In the summer months, I prefer to do laundry outdoors.  I am able to set up a laundry table with the wash tubs & wringer near the clothesline.  I wash in somewhat cool water, so the heat doesn't affect me as much as it would if I were gardening.  The little ones are usually outside with me and playing.  I try to have a little pool set up for them to play in nearby in a shady area.  They are able to have fun outdoors while I work close by. 
Baking bread and such is likely the most difficult for me in summer.  My mornings are filled, so bread gets baked late at night. One idea that I have spoken to Joe about is the possibility of moving our gas (propane) stove from the kitchen to the porch.  We could use a portable propane tank to provide the fuel for it.  This would allow me to be able to use the oven without heating the house up.  We have one area of the porch that is always shaded. The set-up would be as safe as a propane grill.  The main preparation we will need to do is to add a inline shut-off valve to the propane line in the house.  Another option is to build an outdoor oven.  In some styles, such as the type used by some of the Native American people in the desert area, you build a fire in the oven to heat it up.  When the fire burns down, the ashes are removed.  Your bread is placed into the oven and a removable wood door is set in place to hold in the heat.  I found the plans for one in a back issue of Grit magazine.  You can also find plans and instructions online for the adobe or brick bread ovens.
I am looking into plans for homemade solar ovens.  That will be good for things like breads or cookies.  For baking casseroles or roasting meat, I do not know if a solar oven is safe.  There may be food safety issues is using a solar oven for things containing meat, sauces, or cheese.  It will make a good research topic to check out online though.
One way that we avoid heating the house when cooking it to eat lots of salads or cold foods.  Instead of baking bread often in the summer, we use tortillas and make wraps.  I keep salads like potato salad, cucumber salad, and the makings for a lettuce salad in the refrigerator.  Pickled beets. Hard boiled eggs and similar items are a welcome addition.  Made your own sandwich spreads and have lunch meats on hand.  In the mid-day meal, these types of foods are a very nice break from a cooked meal.
The most important part of dealing with the heat is to stay hydrated.  Drink lots of water, lemonade, or kool-aid type drinks.  Take breaks as often as needed to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke.  Do the heaviest work early and the lighter tasks in later hours of the day.  If possible, spend as much time outdoors in a shady area as possible if your home does not stay cool enough.  Often I will roll up a dish towel that has been dampened in cool (not cold) water and drape it around my neck.  This will help give relief in the hottest times.  Just be sure to not use cold water as it could bring on shock.
Hope this gives a few ideas.
May the Lord's blessings be with thee,
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