Winter Cooking Tips

Winter Cooking- hearty food, small electricity bill

Most of us associate winter time with the smells of slow cooked roasts and soups pleasantly permeating the family home. These aromas make home the warm and cosy refuge we need when the outdoors becomes too icy. With rising costs of electricity, however, some may wonder how much of the average family power bill can be attributed to cooking costs? And if it’s significant, how can we reduce those costs?

 

Gas vs electric stove top

There is much debate over the comparative effectiveness of using gas or electricity to power the stove top. Most chefs will side with gas as the best alternative as it is easier to control the heat and produce perfect dishes. Some may argue that electric is best, as the flat bottom of the frying or saucepan comes in direct contact with the flat electric heat source, as opposed to sitting on grates, and a decent gap between the pot and the actual flames. Ultimately, gas is typically far cheaper to run than electric, however, there are more safety concerns with gas lines in houses, the risks of air pollution, and equally importantly, the general consensus is that a flat electric top is easier to clean.

With a list of pros and cons the choice between gas and electric stove tops would depend on individual personal preferences, cooking habits and how important cost effectiveness is when it comes to cooking and the household budget.

Cooking tips that will reduce your electricity bill

  • Use energy efficient appliances. If you’re in the market for a new oven, be sure to purchase one that is fan forced and has a high standard of insulation. This allows the oven to heat more efficiently, saving you money.
  • Wherever possible, use a slow cooker, pressure cooker, electric frying pan or even the microwave as each of these alternatives will use less electricity than a traditional electric oven. Whatever baking and reheating can be done in the microwave will help you save.
  • Make sure the oven door seals work. You can check this by inserting a piece of paper. If the paper slips out from between the seal and the door, they are not tight and you will be losing a lot of heat, therefore, wasting money and energy.
  • Try not to pre-heat the oven excessively, or unnecessarily.
  • When appropriate, cook several things in the oven at once. You can even cook in bulk and freeze meals so the oven doesn’t need to be used every day.
  • Only open the oven door when it’s absolutely necessary. The oven temperature can drop by up to 25 degrees with each opening, and that takes extra energy to reheat. Keep your oven door clean so you can check in on your culinary delights without opening it.
  • When thawing frozen food, take it out in advance and leave in the fridge, rather than microwaving on defrost.
  • The display panel on the microwave remains on constantly, and uses power. Switch the microwave off at the wall when not in use to save on electricity.
  • Gas stove tops, if you have one, will be more energy efficient to run.
  • When using electric stove tops, use pots and pans that have flat bases the same size as the elements, for faster and more efficient heating. For efficiency with gas stovetops, keep the pots and pans directly over the flame, and don’t allow the flame to run up the sides.
  • When possible, keep the lid on the pot or pan to reduce heat loss.
  • Simmering in lieu of boiling will save on power costs.
  • When boiling water on the stove top or with a kettle, never boil more than necessary.
  • Toasters use 75% less energy than the grill in the oven. Use the toaster wherever possible, or the toasted sandwich maker.

The team at Clements are extremely passionate about energy efficiency and reducing our carbon footprint. For questions regarding the efficiency of your home, or any electrical or solar needs, call our experienced team today on 4932 3832. Because at Clements we care, we have an energy efficient recipe for you, to keep you warm over winter. Lasagne, typically cooked in the oven, can actually be made in the slow cooker, which will save on energy costs. Recipe courtesy of taste.com.au

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1kg pork and veal mince
  • 90g (1/3 cup) tomato paste
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 680g jar bolognese pasta sauce
  • 250ml (1 cup) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves
  • 250g pkt dried lasagne sheets
  • 600ml ctn pouring cream
  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 300g (3 cups) coarsely grated three-cheese mix
  • Fresh curly parsley leaves, to serve

METHOD

  • Step 1

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Cook the mince, stirring with a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 10 minutes or until the mince changes colour. Add the tomato paste. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute to coat. Add the wine. Cook for 1 minute or until the wine evaporates. Add the pasta sauce, stock and oregano. Season. Simmer for 10 minutes or until reduced slightly.

  • Step 2

Meanwhile, whisk the cream and eggs in a bowl until well combined. Season. Stir in 2 cups cheese.

  • Step 3

Grease the insert of a 3.5L slow cooker. Spread a thin layer of the mince mixture over the base of the insert. Cover with a layer of lasagne sheets, breaking the sheets to fit, if necessary. Drizzle one-fifth of the cream mixture over the lasagne sheets and top with one-quarter of the remaining mince mixture. Continue layering with remaining lasagne sheets, cream mixture and mince mixture, finishing with a layer of cream mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese.

  • Step 4

Cook on Low for 3 1/2 – 4 hours or until the lasagne sheets are tender and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Carefully remove the insert from the slow cooker. Set aside, covered, for 10-15 minutes to rest. Sprinkle with parsley.

Enjoy!

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