Ahh, the summertime. The smell of freshly mown grass and kids playing in the sprinkler outside.
Now you have the perfect kitchen and you just need the four big basics to make sure that your summertime kitchen is fully stocked for sun and fun.
1. A Citrus Juicer
Whether you like lemonade or just love freshly squeezed orange juice, you’ll definitely need a citrus juicer. Now, you could just get a handheld juicer and do all of the work yourself, but electric citrus juicers are also available. These machines are more thorough and require a lot less work than anything handheld.
Ideas for your citrus juicer
You can set up chilled pitchers of grapefruit, orange, lemon and lime juice, complete with sugar and a little taste of nutmeg for added zing. You can make citrus blends or combine your freshly squeezed citrus juice with mashed strawberries, blended bananas, or whipped cream for a frozen treat. Nothing says summertime like cold orange juice in the morning on your way to work and school.
You can also use your citrus juicer for adult drinks, just as a Tequila Sunrise (both pretty and tasty) and a Whiskey Sour (try different flavors of citrus with that one!). Mojitos and Margaritas are also favorites for citrus flavoring, as well as drinks involving pineapple. If you add a little citrus flavoring to your Pina Colada, the taste will really jump out of the glass.
Involve your kids
Make sure that your kids have all of the Vitamin C and Vitamin D they can use for their strong, healthy, growing bones. Give your kids orange juice or grapefruit juice every day. And, as an added health benefit, their juice won’t be pasteurized, like the kind that comes from the store. Freshly squeezed juice is perfect for your little ones.
Get your kids involved by having them look up internet recipes for both frozen treats and meat dishes which have citrus elements in them. Your kids will have fun participating in all of the different activities. Keep their little hands away from any spinning blades. Instead, show them how to carefully slice the lemon in half and how to gently position it properly in the juicer.
If you and your kids find a frozen treat that you particularly love, put the recipe on the fridge and ask them to come up with a few variations on it next time your family tries that treat. That way, your kids get both recipe experimentation and cooking experience on something that they already love. Show them how much Vitamin C they need every day and how much sugar from the natural citrus is too much sugar. Yes, kids can even get hyped up on citrus sugar, as well. If you think about it, there has to be a lot of sugar in a lemon to make it tolerable to taste and to counteract all of that acid.
2. Ice Cream Maker (and Ice Maker, too!)
Nothing says summer quite like the perfect bowl of ice cream. Make sure that people in your family do not use cones for this. Even the steadiest of adults can drop their ice cream this way and, unlike at the ice cream parlor, you’re the one who has to clean up the carpet.
Ice cream makers are part of every family tradition and are a real family bonding treat for everyone in your home. Traditional ice cream makers require ice (we’ll get to that in a minute) and modern ice cream makers still require frozen abilities of some type. Even frozen smoothies require ice. So, to go with your ice cream maker, you will also need an ice maker.
Choosing an ice maker to go with your ice cream machine
You will need something that is portable and easy to make ice in. Some people have ice makers in their freezers or refrigerators, but most of the time, you’re going to want to use a countertop ice maker because it really is so much easier to dip into, take ice from, and even open and enjoy the coolness on a hot summer’s day. Also, it is much easier and more portable for the kids when feeding your ice cream machine! You will want to examine some countertop ice maker reviews to get the best one for your summertime kitchen.
Ideas for your ice cream maker
Remember to always get enough milk for your recipe. Many people underestimate how much their family will love their homemade ice cream, so get plenty to make enough ice cream. The first big experiment you should do is to look at your user’s manual and to come up with ways to make both hard serve ice cream and ice cream slush. This will give you an idea of how much time to run your ice cream maker and whether or not you want hard, cold, chocolate fudge or just regular strawberry ice cream. Decisions, decisions…
Get some nuts and chop them in a nut grinder
Steep some coffee grounds in some water for just a minute (don’t put coffee grounds in any recipe!) and make sure that it’s only steeped for a minute. You don’t want the caffeine to turn bitter at all. Experiment with traditional ice cream flavors and your nut flavors and coffee flavors. Find a combination that you really love, then write down that recipe. Tweak it until it is perfect.
Involve your kids
Of course, your kids will want to have a say in anything ice cream-related. After all, this is their domain. Ask them to go to the Braum’s ice cream website and name off all of the flavors they want to try. Then, go to the store and get all of the ingredients. Make sure you add salt to your ice cream! Saltless sweets are often not that sweet. There is a balance in all food preparation. Always follow the recipe precisely.
Get your kids to come up with as many different flavor combinations as they can
Post the list on the fridge. Then, try one flavor combination at a time. Have a voting grid where mom, dad, and each kid gets to give a vote or opinion on each ice cream flavor. That way, everyone gets heard and everyone learns something about the ice cream biz! Ask your kids if you should go into the ice cream business.
3. Countertop Electric Grill
In the summertime, ovens are turned off and stovetops and grills are turned on. Grilling, in particular, is a summertime activity. Nothing says fresh air and sunshine like getting out the barbecue or using a countertop grill and cooking your favorite meat, veggies, and spiced apple foil pocket.
Ideas for your countertop electric grill
First, make sure you have dessert down. That way, even if something gets accidentally blackened, the day is finished off with a nice, cold beer and grilled dessert. There are many things you can do on your countertop electric grill for that. You can make grilled fruit cobbler of any type. You can make bourbon-glazed grilled peaches. You can make grilled pineapple and add coconut ice cream or coconut-flavored topping to them. Either way, it will be great. Of course, there are always grilled s’mores.
Next, get the meat down pat
Make sure that you cut into the meat every ten minutes to find out exactly how long each type of meat needs to cook on your grill (and at what temperature) to where it is exactly perfect in every way. Next, add flavoring and spices to taste. If you add spice ahead of time, remember to never add pepper until after the meat is done cooking. When pepper is cooked, it burns easily and becomes bitter.
Vegetables and hot peppers can be grilled at the same time as the meat or even ahead of time to give the meat some additional flavor. Sometimes, apple flavoring is enjoyed in both ham and beef, so allow juices from grilled apples to flow down to the meat cuts and flavor them lightly.
Involve your kids
Kids have an ingrained intuition regarding cooking meat. They inherently know which flavors go well with which flavors. Get them involved by having them go through a regular cookbook for starter ideas for what you can do with meat. Then, have them go through your local supermarket and pick out three unique flavors to go with your chosen meat.
Use your own chosen recipe for the main meal and show them what to do and how to incorporate the other flavors. Then, while supervising them, have them cook their own creations and cut them up into small bites available on toothpicks. Label each flavor combination and have the whole family, try each one out and vote for their favorites. This is a great way to create a little mini-cooking competition for your kids, like Masterchef Junior or something like that.
If your kids are too young to prepare food in the kitchen by themselves (even with your supervision), have them help out with the grilled desserts. They can help you line a baking pan with aluminum foil and they can help you lay out all of the peach slices and drizzle the bourbon sauce on top of them. They can hold the timer until the grilling is finished and they can help you try out the dessert to see if it is cooked enough. The great part about this is that they will never complain.
4. Rotisserie Oven
A rotisserie oven is perfect for cooking large cuts of meat or whole fowl. During the summertime, your kitchen can heat up quite a bit, especially if you have to preheat an oven, cook the meat for a long time, and then turn it over and cook it some more. After that, your kitchen has to cool off. Not everyone has a vent blower above their oven that they can turn on to blow the hot air away.
Your rotisserie oven will melt all of the fat off of your meat while still leaving the tender, juicy protein behind. You can wrap and bind your meat with flavorings and with basil leaves and stalks of lavender and thyme. Sage can also be safely bound to your meat and turned into extra flavoring for your rotisserie dish.
Ideas for your Rotisserie oven
The first thing you should understand about roasting protein is that meat quickly dries out in a roasting environment. The water leaves, the fat is melted out, and the meat left behind is pretty dry and somewhat tough.
This is where science comes in.
You can use an oven-papers (a paper which is specifically designed for oven use) to wrap the parts of your meat which usually dries out. You can even spike roasting sticks to keep it well attached to your meat. Be sure and attach it on both sides to keep the fat next to that portion of the meat and prevent it from dehydrating. Protein should never be cooked in water. Oil and water don’t mix and protein is filled with lipids. Always cook protein in fat.
Make sure that your rotisserie oven has an oven-safe dish in it with whatever flavors you would like in your meat while it is cooking. The air and circulation in the oven are similar to that in a convection oven, except that the spit also can rotate. This means that you can put a small dish of flavored oil over a non-vented area of your oven and this will lightly flavor your meat, too!
Kids should help with preparing the meat before it is put in the rotisserie, but they should not be around it when you check, just in case some hot oil pops out accidentally.
In conclusion, your kitchen just needs a few key tools during the summertime. Most of the things you already have are handy in summer, but you will need extra ice and reduced oven heat and extra frozen treats to make your summer more enjoyable. Bon appetite!