Smart cooking for Smallest Users… and kittens with top hats, too
by Ashley Akin
Last night I was watching Tosh.0 and came across this slightly adorable yet fairly upsetting clip of a kitten in a top hat getting smacked by its Mama. I was shopping for Christmas present online at the time – specifically for a Masters bucket hat to replace the one my Dad dropped in the lake this summer – and this brought back a lot of memories.
(For those of you who don’t know this, Paul’s swimming attire consists of the following: a Masters hat, a Kiwanis T-shirt, a really snug life jacket, trunks, shin-high socks, and tennis shoes. This is not what he goes to the lake in; this is what he SWIMS in. It is also, incidentally, what he wears while attempting to rescue sinking hats… despite the fact that his life jacket makes it impossible for him to dive deeper than 2 feet below the surface and in spite of the fact that it seriously makes him look like he’s drowning. It also gives him a super sadface which is unacceptable on Paul because when Paul looks sad or cries we ALL cry. See for evidence: my brother’s wedding.)
Anywho, when I thought about Christmas and kittens and gifts and crying, I remembered the Christmas when I was five and I asked Santa for a kitten. As it turns out, Santa and Mother Nature were conspiring against me because there was NO kitten in my stocking Christmas morning… there was, however, a note explaining that kittens aren’t born until spring or some such nonsense, so I had to suck it up and wait 5 months before we went and picked out a kitten we named Rocky Top… who turned out the be pure evil and clawed my ankles for years, but that only made me like him more.
In any case, I was left to deal with a truly unprecedented swell of emotions that Christmas, so I turned to the massive amounts of food we had in the kitchen for comfort. Look, Oprah can tell you that emotional eating is not the answer a thousand times over, but my pie-stuffed, dressing-filled, ham-covered, over-sugared 5-year-old self would beg to differ. Sometimes a good old-fashioned gut-out is just what you need.
What, you may ask, does this have to do with saving energy? Well, for one thing I was in much too deep a food coma that Christmas to watch TV, so that surely saved us some kilowatts, but the real point here is the food. Between bundt cakes and turkey and that green bean casserole that’s EVERYWHERE, the U.S. wastes a boatload of energy cooking for the holidays (as we learned here in our turkey-cooking post).
So we at The Smallest User would like to share with you some holiday energy-saving tips from our friends at Wisconsin Public Service. No, that’s not a joke – Wisconsin does have something to offer aside from Chris Farley, Liberace and cheese. Here goes:
- Use a slow cooker. For 17 cents worth of electricity, you can make a whole meal.
- When checking on food in the oven, look through the window. Opening the door for even a second lowers the temperature by as much as 25°.
- Turn off your oven several minutes before your food is fully cooked. As long as the door remains closed, there will be enough heat to finish cooking your meal.
- If you use glass or ceramic pans, turn your oven temp down 25°. Your dish will probably cook just as quickly.
- Keep your refrigerator and freezer well stocked. A full refrigerator or freezer saves energy by reducing the recovery time when the door is opened.
Who knew, Smallest Users? Being a face-stuffing hoarder with a full fridge actually SAVES you energy. Score one for the fat kids! And speaking of kids and fat things and animals we’d like to see under the tree Christmas morning, I’d like to end with a little jingle my boss in Nashville introduced me to a few Christmases ago: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas. It’s amazing. It will make you want to off yourself at first but will totally grow on you. Kinda like Martha Stewart or Bobby Flay. Or babies. Happy feasting!