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As the temperature outside soars, everyone is desperately trying to stay cool. Instead of heating up the kitchen at home, people are cooking outdoors or opting to eat out, letting the fancy air-conditioning systems in restaurant dining rooms keep them cool.
But what about those of us in the kitchen? What's it like for us in the summer? As you can imagine, standing over six to twelve open burners, a flat top, a grill, and a fryer is a sweaty endeavor even in the cooler months. Sure, we have high-powered hoods to suck away much of that heat and smoke, but that only goes so far. And even when not working on the line, cooks can be steaming in their own skins in other parts of the restaurant.
More than once my prep area has intimately shared space with the dishwasher, and rarely with enough ventilation to not turn my work environment into a hellish sauna. While that comes with its own complications in regards to meringues getting soggy, caramel getting sticky, and various other sugary treats weeping, it also makes things most unpleasant for me. It's exhausting enough running all over the restaurant just to get my job done, but throw in a 100 degree work area with 100% humidity and it's nearly impossible.
The top priority, after getting my prep done, becomes keeping my body temperature down. While I sip water or seltzer all day, when I feel like I'm wilting I need something to quickly drop my core temperature. At one job, I kept a stash of freeze pops in my freezer for myself and other cooks. I also kept overripe bananas in the freezer and would occasionally bust out a smoothie lunch for myself and any other too-hot-to-eat colleagues (when I was too hungry for a smoothie to suffice, I'd take a sandwich in the walk-in refrigerator).
Even when I'm not in a horrifyingly hot kitchen, I like to keep cool in the mornings, and when it's just too hot to eat a full breakfast, it's nice to have something stashed away in the freezer to nibble on first thing.
Popsicles for breakfast? When you're using ripe fruit and yogurt, why not? The classic flavor combination of apricots, cardamom and yogurt are sweetened naturally with honey and make for a lovely way to start your day.
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About the Author: Anna Markow is a pastry chef obsessed with doing things that no one else does and giving unusual ingredients their time to shine. You can follow her sometimes-pastry-related thoughts on Twitter @VerySmallAnna.
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