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I do not like the heat.

Previous summers I had taken to throwing something in the oven and running to hunker besides the AC unit. I live in a small house and in the winter the oven is a lovely way to warm up the rooms and fill it with the smell of home baking.

In the summer it turns the house into a raging inferno. Oftentimes its hotter inside than out.

Rather than subject my family to such torture we ended up ordering take-out far too often.

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This year I’m determined to find a way to cook while generating minimal heat. I’m also holding off as long as possible before putting the AC unit in.

There is always the bbq, but honestly it kind of intimidates me. Which makes no sense, considering I handle monstrous commercial gas ovens like a beloved oversized lap dog.

I think it goes back to the time my father left me in charge of the hamburgers and I dropped one between the grills. Looking over my shoulder I frantically rinsed it off in the pool before throwing it back with the (presumably) chlorine free patties. Needless to say the distinctly different flavour gave me away.

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So in this house my husband makes and grills the hamburgers and I have been working to solve the conundrum of cooking while staying cool.

For Christmas my mother in-law gifted us a toaster oven. It’s not an appliance I have much experience with, but I had heard it can cook most things and it generates less heat while using less electricity. Yay, lower utility bill.

A few weeks ago I hauled it out of it’s box and set it up on my freshly de-cluttered counter. I’ve used it daily since. These things ROCK!

I’ve used it to roast veggies, braise meats, and yes, make copious amounts of toast. I’m convinced my three year old works for the grain industry. She wholly endorses toast as its own food group.

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Another trick to avoiding the heat?

Quinoa.

Yeah, yeah there are all those health benefits, and trendy alternative grain things going for it. I love it because it’s as quick to make as Minute Rice (which, again, ironically I never got the hang of).

Boil water, add quinoa, simmer, fluff. Really, just as easy as Minute Rice.

During the winter I prefer to make a brown rice pilaf when I’m looking for a grain or starch to round out a meal. In the summer there is no way I am turning on my oven for 40 minutes. So quinoa is my summer time love. I should really expand my horizons and have a dalliance with couscous too.

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This Quinoa and Asparagus Salad was a great base for some grilled thai style chicken I made (I would share that recipe too, but I winged it and didn’t keep track of what I was up to. It turned out delicious though, next time I’ll write it down as I go).

I was actually surprised with how tasty the quinoa turned out. I had to stop myself from devouring it all before dinner.

The vinaigrette was inspired by a dressing I made in this post after I discovered how much sesame oil loves asparagus. The flavours leant themselves perfectly to the thai grilled chicken.

I like to add a bit of spice to the water I’m cooking the quinoa in, that way it gets infused into the grains as it cooks. It almost makes up for the fact that I use water instead of stock to cook it. The kitchn has a great how to on cooking our (newly) favourite super grain.

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When boiling the water throw in a couple of teaspoons of dry ginger and a teaspoon or so of cumin. I used this amount for 4 cups water, enough to cook 2 cups of quinoa.

Chop and Roast some asparagus. If your not sure how check out this post.

Sesame Honey Vinaigrette 

  • Rice Wine Vinegar 1/4 cup
  • Honey 1/4 cup
  • Sesame Oil 1/4 cup
  • Ginger 1 teaspoon
  • Chives- chopped

Whisk all together. Taste it and adjust for your preference. Find it too sweet? Add some of the rice wine vinegar. Does it pucker your mouth? Add a bit more honey. Seems a little flat? Up the sesame oil or ginger.

Mix with roasted asparagus and warm quinoa- about 2 cups cooked. Let it sit.

Just before serving I heated up a frying pan with a generous amount of butter and threw the quinoa mix into it to for a few minutes to give it a toasted flavour.

 

 

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