'My Kitchen Is Too Hot!'

Real New Yorkers know: whether you're at the shore, up in the mountains, or stuck in the sweltering City, there are just some things you can't ignore, when it comes to summertime food preparation.
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The following was an actual post on our building's intranet, from a resident, on one of the first warm days of the 2013 summer season:

Title: Kitchen too hot

Has anyone figured out a way to make the kitchen not so hot in the summer? When I cook, the kitchen is unbearable. I have tried a window fan, but that doesn't really help much. I also have a ceiling fan, but that just moves around the hot air. I would appreciate any suggestions!

This, as the hack comedian on Seinfeldh, Kenny Bania, would say, is gold. Pure gold!

It is another example of how certain people find it difficult to cope. With daily realities. With life. And, most daunting of all, with the daily realities of life in New York City.

Real New Yorkers know that it gets hot here in the summer, sometimes as early as, well, May. It gets so hot and sticky that entire songs have been written about it. Dust off your Lovin' Spoonful vinyl if you need a reminder.

In the days before air-conditioning was prevalent, New Yorkers found ways to cope with the summertime heat. They slept in parks and on fire escapes. They uncapped fire hydrants and played in the cold spray of the streets. (Of course, we all used water-saving caps to keep pressure adequate in case of fire, didn't we, gang?)

We also went to the beach, or local pools, to cool off. In my case, we took the 12 bus to Orchard Beach. Or the subway to Brighton Beach. Or Miramar Saltwater Pool on 207th Street (all-day fun for $1).

Of course, summertime in New York -- for many of those who were kids in the pre-a/c era - meant a cabin at a Sullivan County bungalow colony. As the great writer Lenore Skenazy puts it, this was the era of "the free-range kid."

But back to the kitchen.

Real New Yorkers know: whether you're at the shore, up in the mountains, or stuck in the sweltering City, there are just some things you can't ignore, when it comes to summertime food preparation:

DON'T BAKE (IF YOU DON'T ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO). When the Gulf air comes North, cook on top of the stove. When the oven is set at 375° for three hours, your kitchen is going to get hot -- there's no way around it.
COOK IN THE EARLY MORNING. Prepare lighter fare, in advance, before work, if possible, in large quantities. You know, enough fried chicken for several meals worth.
ADJUST YOUR MENUS. Hey, it's hot out. Who wants to eat heavy winter stuff when it's 90+ out there? Do salads, with easily prepared proteins (chicken, fish, skirt steaks) diced in. High summer is not cassoulet time.
BRING IN FOOD - OR DINE OUT. I know, we're all on a budget. But on those dog days of August, a trip to the salad bar, ordering in pizza or Chinese food, or going out for some pub grub or, gasp, even fast food, isn't the worst thing in the world.
USE YOUR A/C - INTELLIGENTLY. Yes, utility costs are through the roof. Use your A/C's timer features to get ahead of the worst heat-of-the-day, and keep you home -- yes, kitchen, too -- comfortable after dinner. Set the controls to start the machine a couple of hours before you get home. Augment with ceiling fans to heighten your a/c's efficiency. And check kitchen windows for areas that need re-caulking, to make sure your expensive, cooled air doesn't head right out the window.

Like a lot of things about living in New York City, keeping a cool kitchen in the summertime requires nothing more than a little common sense and a modicum of lifestyle flexibility. Now slather on the SPF cream, get out there, and stop whining about the heat. As our parents used to say: "It'll only make you hotter."

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