It’s tragically unfair that the precise moment that summer produce hits its peak and I want to cook all the things is also when it becomes absolutely miserable to be in my kitchen. Sure, I’ve added some fans, but there is no way to ameliorate the sweatbox that is my stovetop (or oven) in summer. As such, I’ve found some tools to help me cook and avoid being in the kitchen. It’s the future we all dreamed of while watching The Jetsons.
Electric stirring devices mean not standing over a stove
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I’m not an idiot. I don’t make risotto in summer—but I do make all kinds of jams and sauces that would normally require me to stand over a stove. Even a quick sauté demands my presence over a pot. I found myself thinking one day that surely someone had invented an automatic stirring device—and Amazon never disappoints.
I tested three devices, and there’s no contest: You want the Stirmate. It actually clamps to the pot so that the stirring device is always centered. It’s wholly adjustable to width and depth, unlike a number of other devices that were only good for a shallow pan. You can purchase accessories, like this metal stirring tool, which does a great job on large pots of sauce or jam or soup.
Step back from the stove with these stirring devices:
I can clamp this to my pot, walk away, and know that nothing is burning. Setting it up each time only takes two minutes, and it’s easily washable. It stores away in a surprisingly compact form.
It’s worth noting that for $35, the smaller Uutensil Stirr would be a great match for a simple sauté. It’s small and easy to grab and there isn’t any setup—you just place it in the pan and let it go. The diminutive stature means it’ll only work for a depth of a few inches, but that’s ok. I found it did a good-enough job to turn my back on it and prep other things, and cleanup was easy.
Monitor from afar with a security camera
Hear me out. When cooking, you have two indicators of what’s happening, sight and temperature, that require you be present. Pasta water bubbles over, something starts smoking, or something starts boiling.
My controversial stance is that you can monitor all this from your living room via a Blink camera aimed at your stovetop. Haters, line forms at the back.
You could use literally any camera you want; Blink cameras just happen to go on sale often, and are inexpensive, small and easy to set up. I particularly enjoy the Blink mini’s magnet on the bottom which sticks to my fridge in precisely the way I need to get a bird eye’s view of my stovetop.
I take a break on my couch and monitor via Blink on my phone while I chill in the A/C, watching the electric stirrer go at it. Is it lazy or is it brilliant?
A temperature alarm will remind you when you’re really needed
If you’re looking for a specific temperature, like when you’re heating up milk or jam, a consistent thermometer with an alarm is your best friend. A bluetooth thermometer will let you keep watch from the couch, and if you’re not getting the theme I’m laying down, “monitor from the couch” is definitely the vibe.
Thermometers don’t have to be complicated—I’m looking for a magnetic base that will clip to the stovetop, probes that I can clean, a case to keep it all in because those probes are easily damaged, and pot clips, so you can clip the probe to the side of the pot. You want it touching the food not the bottom of the pot.
This $33 model from ThermoPro hits all the bases, and you can purchase pot clips separately if you already have a thermometer.
It may seem lazy and absurd to go to all these lengths to just avoid standing over a stovetop, and no one is stopping you from your continuing your perch above Steam City. But each of these tools has actual value beyond laissez-faire cooking, so you’ll get additional use out of each. In combination, they create the perfect storm of culinary monitoring so you can stay cool.