Summer is just around the corner and despite the fact that it doesn’t officially begin until June 20th the weather outside certainly is beginning to feel more and more like Summer. With that in mind I thought I’d share a recipe that will help keep some heat out of your kitchen and remind you that sweet tea is simply one of those Southern perks in life. The baking soda will seem like an odd ingredient, I know, but trust me it is an important one. It leaves the tea with a smooth and mild flavor and helps prevent the bitter bite that tea can sometimes get.
Southern Style Sun Tea
4-6 tea bags or 1 family size tea bag
¼ cup sugar, or more to taste
1 pinch baking soda
½ gallon glass jar with tight fitting lid
1. Fill your glass jar halfway full with water. Add baking soda and sugar, stirring to dissolve.
2. Once baking soda and sugar are dissolved, fill the jar the rest of the way full of water, adding the tea bag(s).
3. Set jar outside in a location where it can get lots of direct sunlight. Tea will be “brewed” and ready to drink anywhere between 30 minutes and 90 minutes later. Once it looks brewed, it is.
4. Compost or discard tea bag(s). Refrigerate tea immediately, and keep refrigerated when not pouring glasses for thirsty family members and friends.
5. *Optional Step* – If you want you can always add a bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice or a couple sprigs mint to the tea before you set it out in the sun to brew. Mint is excellent to use in the Summer as it helps cool the body down; peppermint is good because it can help alleviate headaches naturally. Vary it up some and have fun!
Now, while you’ve got some good ole Southern style tea to sip on, I thought I’d share some more kitchen tips that make life easier.
*To help keep your kitchen cool in the Summer, run your dishwasher at night before you go to bed and set it to “air-dry.” This will help keep heat out of the kitchen when you are in there.
* As I mentioned last week, a wonderful utensil to use when filling muffin tins, cupcake liners, or even making pancakes is the ¼ cup measuring cup. It tends to hold just the right amount and makes pouring out batter in increments quite easy.
*Use glass or ceramic dishes as often as possible for storing things in the fridge. The glass and ceramic will become cold themselves, requiring less work from your refrigerator to monitor temperature. This in turn saves energy and saves you money.
*Conversely, a wonderful place to store a pizza stone is on the lower shelf in the oven itself. Again, it is an item that will hold the temperature of the oven causing it to work less, saving energy and money. Also, since pizza stones are flat nine times out of ten you can still use the bottom shelf, simply sitting whatever you’re baking (cookie sheet, etc) directly on top of the stone. I can’t hardly think of a time when I’ve had to remove the pizza stone from our oven. A final perk of this is that finding somewhere else to store pizza stones can be a true pain.
*This tip comes from Chef Anne Burrell’s book “Cook Like a Rock Star” and it is one of the best things I’ve heard put into words: Salt and Pepper aren’t married, they’re just dating. It means that just because you use one you don’t have to use the other! Remember, salt is a seasoning and will help accent the flavors of food. Pepper is a spice and should be treated as one.
*Finally, with the heat of Summer approaching, now is a good time to drag out the old Crock-Pot or invest in one. The variety of dishes that can be made in them is simply amazing. Not only is it something you can set ahead of time and then leave home to go enjoy your day (or simply go to work), but it won’t add a lot of heat to your kitchen like running the oven will. Grilling out is also another way to vary up your dishes and keep the heat out of the kitchen. Over the next few months I’ll make sure to try and share plenty of recipes for both.
Got questions about a recipe or a recipe you think I should try out? Send me a message at Carrie@mainstreetnewspapers.com! I look forward to hearing from you.