14 January 2011

Cooking Green

A few months back I got a copy of the book Cooking Green by Kate Heyhoe. If you're interested in reducing your carbon footprint in the kitchen, I can certainly recommend it. It's full of good analysis of the various pros and cons of different cooking methods, and kitchen equipment and appliances, and lots of tips and hints and suggestions for what you can do differently, and even a bunch of recipes cooked with "green principles". Whether you're designing a kitchen from scratch, or seeing what you can change with what you've already got, this book has good ideas.

Here's an easy one you can do - when cooking pasta, bring the water to the boil, add your pasta, stir and let it boil for a few minutes, then turn the heat off entirely, put a lid on the saucepan, and let it sit for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Works perfectly well.

Here's what she has to say about ovens :
"If you make no other changes to the ways you cook, stop using your oven.

"Ovens are the Humvees of the kitchen. According to the Department of Energy, about 87% of an electric oven's heat is wasted, absorbed not by the food, but by the oven walls or dissipated into the room."

...

"If you do nothing else to green your cookprint, switch from a conventional oven to a toaster or countertop oven. Anytime you can bake, roast, or broil in a smaller oven, you're cooking greener. Plus, compared to conventional ovens, small ovens preheat and cool down in almost no time at all, and they don't heat up the entire kitchen."
So I asked for a benchtop oven for Christmas (from my FIL, who is easily guided as to what we'd like, and has deeper pockets than us) ...meet my Breville Smart Oven. It is really awesome. We've been able to retire our regular toaster, and for not much more bench space, we have this :

It comes with a baking tray, grill pan, and pizza pan, and takes dishes up to 33 cm (13") square. A lot of my ovenware fits in it already. It's big enough to roast a small chook, and can toast up to 4 slices of bread at a time. It has settings for crumpets (more heat on the top), grilling, roasting, defrosting, and heaps more. I love being able to just dial up the temperature exactly (in 5º steps), and I can even swap between Fahrenheit and Celsius if I want to.

Another lovely feature is that it turns off automatically once the cooking time has been reached, more like a microwave oven, so overcooking isn't a problem. I've used it frequently, and found it excellent, with good even heat. And because the trays are smaller, they're much easier to clean (unlike oven grill trays which never fit in the sink). Just a little thing, but it all adds up!

I haven't used the wall oven once since getting this little beauty.

8 comments:

  1. This is a great rap for the toaster oven Nisi - I used to have one years ago but it wasn't as good as this. But I remember it was still fine for doing tiny roasts for one person. And now with two people, I find our oven is HOPELESS. It takes SOOOO long to cook any meat. And one of these would be good for muffins too! I reckon they should be paying you, 'cos I'm off to buy one..))

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  2. My current oven is ancient and probably single handedly causing global warming and La Nina. In my new house (roll on March/April..) I have a double oven, which I used to have in the UK, so you need only use the small oven most of the time, which is a great saver.

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  3. That does look interesting. I don't use my oven that much, but I thinnk I might just look into the Smart Oven as an alternative for just the two of us.

    Hope you're keeping well. xx

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  4. My mum has one of those and swears by it, I shall have to tell her how green she is!!

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  5. I would find it hard to give up my oven. I use it all the time but rarely for only one dish. I put whole meals in there (last night was chicken and a pan of roasted vegetables and some bread). I try not to use it for small things because I feel the waste of it all.

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  6. You're doing well, Donna Lee - as Kate also says in her book, if you do use your wall oven, use it effectively - cook more than one thing at a time, and so on :)

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  7. I do that all the time - use my toaster/oven instead of the big oven (unless the item is too big for the smaller unit). AND I don't own a microwave - which changes the molecular structure of the food!

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  8. As a person who does not "cook" I only boil water, use the microwave and my toaster oven. I have not used my oven since I moved into my house in 1990! It is being used for storage,lol. I do have a electric indoor grill which I never use because out of site out of mind. Same thing with my sandwich maker. I do have the Breville Coffee K-Cup machine. Love the hint about cooking pasta-that is what I boil.

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