Air conditioners installed, outdoor cooking and yard work

This is the first year having air conditioners in Mom’s front bedroom and my back bedroom.  This is the third season I have used my small 5000 BTU A/C so installing it was simple and straight forward. Installing Mom’s A/C took a little more effort because the window in her room slides left to right rather than up and down. Another issue was not to block out natural light from the window because it is a dark room.  We got lucky as my garden stakes are the perfect width to brace the A/C unit in the window and the screen from my bedroom window closely fit the open window area above the A/C unit. I got out the plastic window kit I bought at the Dollar store and we taped the plastic to the window screen so we block hot air coming in and keep the cold air in the house.  While not perfect the plastic should work short term and it seems the dollar store double-sided tape is comparable to the tape in more expensive window kits.  I’d like to get a piece of Plexiglas cut to size for the window from Home depot or lowes. We could use Styrofoam or cardboard as a cheap fix but plexiglass would last for years and will let in natural light!

We got all of the window blinds mostly cleaned up and installed after much “wailing and gnashing of teeth”.   Mom says she noticed a big difference  in temp. after hanging the blinds. Plus the A/C units are  keeping the house about 75 degrees F.  in nearly 100 degree F. weather, via the two 5000 BTU AC units on opposite sides of the house. Generally in high desert the evenings are cool, but the last two days have not  cool down at night and the A/C compressors have to work a bit and that costs electricity. That is on a 1200 square foot house.

I have not cooked dinner/supper in the house for several days. My $15.00 yard sale Weber gas grill has made outdoor cooking very simple. I season the meat and let it set a day or two. I tried baking bread on the gas grill via the “pizza stone” and the heat got away from me and spike to 500 degrees F.  The bottom crust was burnt and it was just a little doughy in the center. I just need to work on the temperature control, and get an old fashioned timer to assist in my cooking/baking times, rather than run it and out of the house using the oven timer!

I tried out the Swanson’s Cajun flavor infused broth I got from the Dollar tree. I made a sort of gumbo without okra or sausage just using leftover rotisserie chicken. It wasn’t bad but it was not great either. That being said I do think it has  potential for making a good tasting, quick and easy meal.   A new poll came out a few months back that more people eat out than make meals at home. Many of us complain about “convenience foods” but so many people have no concept of making any food from scratch using basic ingredients if they don’t eat out or can “nuke” a meal they won’t eat. While homemade stock is cheap, simple to make and a great way to use up leftover bones and veggies. I think many people are a bit intimidated by the time factor as well as trying something new.  I think having a few boxes of  different stocks, packets of sauces, gravies and bullion cubes can be a great way to start learning to cook from scratch without jumping in with both feet.  Another thing to consider is your time and energy. I am sometimes too tired, worn out and sore to cook a meal from scratch so those packages of stock and gravy/sauces can be a great time and energy saver for making a good meal in a short time.

To use a metaphor or an analogy, forgive me I can never keep those two straight. Learning to cook from scratch is sort of like learning to start a fire.  You should practice starting a fire using a fire bow, flint, a magnesium stick and steel to make a spark, but I also recommend you store plenty of matches and bic lighters!

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