Summer is finally here, and the temperature is finally climbing — It’s time to break-out the t-shirts and store away the long underwear for a couple months!
For the frugally minded, cranking up the air conditioning to a comfortable 68F is a giant no-no! That’s a giant waste of money, and poor use of the organ between our ears! So how can we keep cool during the summer months without AC?
There’s lots of ways, but one of my favorites is a superb little device (often associated with grandmothers and other elder folk) known as the slow-cooker.
You’re probably wondering, how can a device that creates heat help keep you cool in summer? That’s the clever bit! Read on to find out!
Stop With The Excuses
I often see people on the “internets” complain about not being able to save 50% (or more) of their income, yet I notice they still eat-out at restaurants quite frequently.
When I gently inquire “Do you cook all your meals at home?”, I’m frequently met with the most overused excuse on the planet — “I wish I had time for that”.
I hate that excuse! You want to know why? We make time for what’s important to us. If someone gives me that excuse, I just mentally replace it with with “It’s not important enough for me to make time“.
Grandma would be ashamed of you! Frankly, cooking meals at home every day doesn’t even take that much time. Your Grandma solved this problem half a century ago when she brought home her first slow-cooker!
Half a century ago, women were joining the workforce at a rapid rate, and yet they still managed the home, cooked the meals, and did the cleaning — It’s just how the world was then. Grandma was tough as shit, and she made time to do it right.
Instead of trying to cook a meal when she came home from work, Grandma would prep the day’s meal the night before. In the morning, she’d plug-in the slow cooker, and leave for work. Eight hours later when she returned home, the meal was cooked and ready to serve.
Seriously, if you don’t yet have a slow cooker yet, just go get one. Like this Crock-Pot model from Amazon. They don’t cost much, and will save you countless hours (and thousands of dollars) over its lifetime.
Slow Cookers And Summer
So how are slow cookers going to help us keep cool in the summer? Several ways actually…
In summer, temperatures peak in the afternoon, just after everyone comes home from work. After a long day under the sun, the house is hot and stuffy. No-one wants to be hovering over a stove or running the oven on a hot summer afternoon.
I know I’d rather be sitting out in the shade sipping an iced tea instead….and that’s really the secret: Don’t do any cooking when temperatures are at their hottest.
Take a page from Grandma’s book and do your cooking during the day, with the slow-cooker.
Do the meal-prep the night before (or early in the morning) when the house is at its coolest and most comfortable. Then, simply plug-in the slow cooker before work and come home to a fantastic meal.
The second way slow cookers can help keep us cool comes from the simple fact that slow-cookers are portable. Instead of cranking up the AC in the house to make the kitchen tolerable, just cook outside!
Nearly every home has an outdoor power outlet. Bring the slow-cooker outside, and keep any waste heat outside! You’ll save money by not running the AC and your house will stay cooler too!
It’s insanity to think people use energy to cool their home, and then heat it back up with energy used to prepare a meal. Then again, it’s insanity to think people eat-out multiple meals a week…yet it’s still commonly done.
Americans now spend more money at restaurants than they spend at grocery stores!!!
Not Just For Grandma
Perhaps you’re thinking slow-cookers are only for soups and stews, like Grandma used to make. It’s time to update your thinking. There are thousands of slow-cooker recipes on the internet. You can cook practically anything with a slow cooker, given enough creativity.
The Tako family is no exception — We use our slow cooker for all kinds of cooking….and our slow cooker was absolutely free. Check out our hand-me-down beauty with tramp-stamp detailing.
Grandma would definitely approve!
Think I’m all talk and no ‘walk’ about this slow cooker stuff?
Yesterday morning, I whipped up a batch of Mr. Tako’s Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos. That’s right, I’m going to bombard you with fantastic food photos once again!
As I’ve done in the past, I’m going to supply you guys with my recipe and mouth-watering photos.
Mr. Tako’s Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Tacos
Making shredded chicken taco’s in the slow cooker is a piece of cake. Prep time is approximately 20 minutes.
Start by slicing up half an onion and throw it in the slow cooker. Bam! Easy work for my 8-inch Shun Chef-Knife.
Next, it’s time to add the herbs and spices to the slow cooker. Probably don’t throw-in the spices this time. Aim is more important here.
I used the following amounts in this batch:
- Mesquite Seasoning (from Costco): 1 tablespoon
- Ground Cumin: 1 tablespoon
- Minced Garlic: 1 tablespoon
- Smoked Paprika: 1 teaspoon
- Salt & Pepper: Roughly 1/2 teaspoon each
- Cilantro: 1-2 tablespoons
Next, add three decent sized chicken breasts to the slow cooker. You can use other cuts of chicken, but I prefer chicken breasts for this application.
Because we’re using a very lean meat, I add 1-2 tablespoons of butter. This adds a little fat to the chicken breasts and enhances the flavor. Mmmm….butter.
Next, pour about 1 cup of salsa into the slow cooker. It can be as mild or as spicy as you prefer. I like to use homemade salsa from the “Roasting Your Own For Big Savings” post instead of expensive store bought stuff. It’s way cheaper, and tastes far better.
Then, add enough chicken broth to mostly cover the chicken. I used 3 cups here. If you don’t have chicken broth, water works fine too…there’s still doing to be tons of flavor.
Mix the spices and other ingredients. Then carefully carry it outside.
Plug-in the slow cooker, and set the heat to “medium” (a slow simmer) for 4-8 hours.
After 4-8 hours, the chicken should be super tender and just fall apart at the slightest touch. Use a tongs to remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Shred it on a cutting board with a fork. Try not to eat too much while shredding. It’s hard, I know!
Return the shredded chicken to the slow-cooker and gently mix. Allow the juices and spices to mingle with the shredded chicken. This is going to taste fantastic!
Time to eat! Prep your tacos with your favorite condiments! We use a tongs to drain-off excess liquid from the chicken when plating, but a slotted spoon or fork works just as well.
And that’s how we do it in the Tako household. Our family of four can get 2-3 meals from one batch of these slow-cooker shredded chicken tacos. Total cost? About $7.
After a couple of taco meals, I usually use the remaining broth and shredded chicken, and make a fantastic tortilla soup.
Got any fantastic slow cooker recipes? Share in the comments!