Column: Staying cool just takes old-fashioned planning
With warmer temperatures during July and August, people are looking for ways to reduce those air conditioning bills at the end of the summer. I thought of those long, hot days when we grew up. We didn't have the convenience of air conditioning, rather one or two fans our family had to share.
We were blessed with large trees that shaded our home from the hot afternoon sun as temperatures rose over 90 or 100 degrees. I remember we would open the doors and windows, the bottom on the wind side and top on the other side so cooler air came in and hot air out at the top to capture that outside breeze. We didn't have ceiling fans like today that could be reversed to draw cool air up and hot air out.
We knew that we had to wear light colored, loose-fitting clothing made of cotton, linen or silk. We knew that dark colors attract heat, leaving the body hot and sticky. Cotton clothing absorbs body perspiration. During the day we would relax under a tree or the shade. It can be 20 degrees cooler than in the sunlight. We'd also put a cool, wet towel around our necks as it seemed to cool the blood as it moved to our head. Also, we filled a tank with water and would jump in to cool off during the day. In the evening, our family would head to the river for a cool dip since we didn't have a shower. Today we have the swimming or wading pools we use during the day. In the evening, we are able to take a nice cool shower before going to bed. A shower removes sweat and opens pores, allowing the body to cool down. Remember to turn on that bathroom fan, removing as much humidity from the room as possible. It's best to use lighter weight, lighter color bedding during the summer.
Of course we always drank lots of water and lemonade. Our parents made a drink with soda, vinegar, sugar and cool water. We didn't have ice, but rather cool water from the well. Today we can do these and many other things to stay cool. Forget hot coffee and tea.
During the hot weather we always ate lighter. Today, many people grill to keep the temperatures down while others use the slow cooker instead of the oven or stovetop.
Even today, people line-dry clothes outside instead of using the dryer. If you have to use your dishwasher, stove, washer or dryer, it's best to use the in the late evening or early morning before the outside temperatures get hot and usage is not at peak.
Today we can always spend an afternoon at the library or at the mall to cool down for a while, and when we get home, go to the lowest level in the house where it is usually a little cooler.
If you have the air conditioner on, remember to close the blinds and curtains on the side of your house where the sun shines in. Make sure all your air ducts are open and not restricted by anything, including a piece of furniture, for better circulation of air in the room.
This is summer in Minnesota, and with a little advanced planning you can keep those July and August electrical bills down.
Wild rice salad
1 c. wild rice
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. chopped onion
1 c. diced celery
1 4-oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
1 green pepper, diced
1 1/2 c. diced cooked turkey
1 c. zesty Italian dressing
1 c. salad dressing
1 small can chopped pimento
1 can water chestnut
Cook rice and chicken broth, cool. Add onion, celery, mushrooms, pepper, turkey and Italian dressing. Cover and refrigerate over night. Add salad dressing, chopped pimento, and sliced chestnuts. Yield: eight servings