Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Maximising the use of the Oven and the Hob

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I  only have a half size gas oven that belongs to the house (we rent) and every time I put the oven on these days I am conscious of maximising how I use the oven to its full potential rather than just one thing at a time.  One thing at a time is such a waste of resources.  This is why when I do a Sunday lunch I cook for the following day as well  by doubling up on everything and then just heat the food up in the microwave "ping" it for 5 minutes and then we have a lovely home cooked meal courtesy of a little planning and being frugal with the fuel.  You have to make the best of what you have and although my dream cooker is the full Aga we have to be realistic and  deal with what we have rather than what we don't have.  We have to be grateful no matter what the situation.

My mum was ever conscious about getting the most out of the oven. I attribute this to the fact that she was one of ten children,who were abandoned by their father when the youngest was a month old and they were eleven living in a two up two down with a scullery and they had it rough and it would seem that my grandmother went without often not eating properly herself but making sure the kids did.  If the oven had to go on she would often make something else like a ring of scones, a pudding or some flapjacks if the oven had to go on rather than just putting one thing in and then wasting all the heat generated.  So I was always taught by my mum to do this.  What I have taken for granted though and which I now realise is not only  have I been blessed by the frugal teaching of my mother, I have found out in later life that not everyone has been taught of  or is aware of getting the best out of the oven.

Sunday morning was also when we did the baking for the week, pies, puddings, cakes,sausage rolls, scones etc. so that there was something for the tins for unexpected guests (the social niceties had to be observed) and also for filling out the pack ups for everyone.  It all helped a little go along way and because we had the ingredients in and kept a healthy stock of cooking and baking ingredients we could get something knocked up and made in a hurry at very short notice.  Because I was bought up with a Baking day (both my mum and my grandmother did this) it was normal for me to carry on the practice and subsequently I keep a healthy stock of such items at all times and do not buy them in as a special.  Because I do this I have mentally budgeted for so much a month of a particular basic ingredient like, flour, sugar, eggs lard, butter and margarine/soft baking spread like Stork and also the hard block Stork.  This allows for home made goodies rather than buying in baked goods and I get more for my money in the long run.

The oven normally has to be switched on before you start cooking to reach temperature and most people put the oven on whilst they are making whatever it is they are going to cook.   this is where I differ. I get two or three things at least on the go and in the making before I switch the cooker on and make things that go into the oven at a similar temperatures i.e. prepare all of the pastry items together, cakes, cookies and then operate a shuttle system if there are two or three trays of similar goods like cookies.  Have one on the top shelf and as soon as the contents are cooked that item which  was on the lower shelf then goes on the top shelf and so on so you are always in advance with the making and  with the cooking playing catch up in the end.  I have a set of cooling racks which I decant the baking onto once it has settled.  I then wash the trays/pans and then dry them in the residual heat of the oven to stop them going rusty.

I also have a tray in the bottom of the oven with all the waste bread in and let the bread dry out in the residual heat from the oven hence making my own breadcrumbs.  Once dry I then whizz up in the liquidiser/blender and store in a glass jar in the pantry.  Will keep for a couple of months like this and I make my own stuffings, etc. as well as crumb for scotch eggs etc, myself.

I use a three tier steamer on the hob thereby only having to use one plate to cook all the veggies for my tea.  A steamer for cooking gives the veggies more flavour and saves on the washing up.  I also use a Pressure Cooker for cooking stews and pie fillings.  So I can create a variety of items for little cost but more in quantity.  Yes it is time consuming and I try and have sessions for the baking and putting items up in the freezers to save time in the week but it is no hardship for me as investing a little time and energy can pay dividends in the quality of food you eat and the more practice you get the better the food gets.  So really it is a win win situation.  It comes down to choices really and I choose for my family to eat as well as I can even though it does require a bit of effort from me.

What do you do to maximise the use of your main oven when you switch it on or do you have alternative strategies.  Would love to hear from you.

Catch you soon




  1. Hello Trishia,
    Hope you are keeping well.
    What a wonderful post.
    I rarely use the oven at all these days but use my halogen oven most often. We've noticed a big difference in the electric bill since I started to use it, and there's plenty of room to cook for the two of us. It has another bonus - it's a doddle to clean, no more scrawling on hands and knees!
    Sending very best wishes
    Rose H

  2. Rose

    I am so sorry I thought I had come back to you. Am very well hope you are and thank you for your kind words. I do not use the oven unles I absolutely have to but if I do put it on I try and utilise all the heat and will often make something extra just to use the heat up Because we rent only a Gas oven was fitted in the property and there is no electric panel in which to install an electric cooker. I must say I have been looking at a Halogen cooker; its something that is on the list. Have you had any "finds" lately or have your days been taken up with caring for Mum. Please take care and do not forget about you. Love and Light Pattypan xxx


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