Long ago, back in the days when cooking was one of my mandatory daily activities, I owned (among many others) two cookbooks: Mrs. Appleyard’s Summer Kitchen and Mrs. Appleyard’s Winter Kitchen. As you might suspect, one of these books held hot weather recipes and the other ones for winter chill. What you might not realize is the titles were quite literal. Mrs. Appleyard lived in an old New England farmhouse that was built before electricity became a household word. It had an indoor kitchen and one that was separate from the rest of the house. When summer’s heat came to stay, food was cooked at a distance from the place where the family lived. 

Quaint? No. Practical. In Thailand where summer is a perpetual state of affairs, traditionally there was no indoor kitchen. It was in a small separate building, steps away from where the food would eventually be eaten. In modern Thailand, although I lived in houses with indoor kitchens, those places were only used when it was time to wash the dishes that had held food purchased from street carts. It was in that country that I began to develop an aversion to cooking, one that serves me not quite so well now that I live in the States.

Here I live in a studio apartment with a galley kitchen in the entryway. The stove has an oven and I do my best to remember not to use it in the months that don’t contain an R. In the winter it provides very welcome heat. In the summer it turns my space into hell.

Fortunately Seattle has a laughable version of summer and even more fortunate is my abiding love for 90+ degree days. At night however the bricks that surround my large window release their heat as they cool and in order to sleep I use a big box fan–problem solved.

But not last night. 

I’m a quasi-vegetarian and a reluctant cook so in the summer I usually live on food that has never known the need for heat. But occasionally I falter and yesterday my appetite called out for chicken. I went to Trader Joe’s and came home with five little chicken drumsticks which I popped into a cast iron skillet and then placed in a 400 degree oven. “Thirty minutes,” I thought but since cooking seldom preys upon my mind, I forgot about them when I fell into a book. When I finally turned off the heat and removed the skillet, every time I went into the kitchen I reeled back a trifle. The cooling skillet wasn’t cooling quickly enough, demonstrating its admirable heat retention.  I turned up my fan.

Right now at 2 pm the next day, my apartment is a toasty 85 degrees, which I think is comfortable. Last night when I failed to fall asleep it was significantly warmer than that. I didn’t check the temperature but I know from past experience that this place reaches 90+ at night with very little encouragement. Yesterday’s culinary adventure encouraged it one whole hell of a lot. I rarely sweat but last night I pulled that off with no trouble at all.

Goodbye oven. I’ll see you again in late October. As for tonight’s supper, I’m thinking cucumbers in yogurt, with an ice cream chaser. Bon Appetit and to hell with cooking.