12 Surprising Way AGA Can Simplify Busy Lives
Jules the AGA is more than a pretty face with parlor tricks. With traditional cast iron benefits and modern-day controls, she contains an entire arsenal of shortcuts that streamlines my life, many I'm sure I have yet to discover. Here are my personal favorites.
1. Melt butter, chocolate and solid oils and quickly soften cream cheese
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been startled one too many times by butter exploding in the microwave like an oily atomic bomb. So rather than fussing with microwave settings for the just-right temperature, I place the "meltable" in a dish on the AGA cooktop to melt down while I tend to the other parts of the recipe. Want to speed up the melting process? That’s easy—just move it to an oven. It’s better on the nerves that way.
Extra Tip: AGA owner Alina Van Harn uses this special AGA trick to melt chocolate at the back of her AGA cooktop. She pours the melted chocolate in an ice cube tray over halved strawberries and refrigerates until the treats are solid.
2. Warm leftovers without a microwave
Now, now, before you make a face, I promise you that you’ll reconsider your feelings about leftovers after you try heating them in an AGA. Here’s the shortcut: arrange your meal right on the plate and place in the simmering oven until heated thoroughly for a hot-out-of-the-oven meal that tastes just as delicious the next day. If your leftovers have dried from storing overnight, just toss an ice cube on the floor of the oven to steam moisture back into the food.
3. No-iron, wrinkle-free clothes
This one I love to tell people about solely for reaction it gets. While you're getting ready for wherever life’s got you going next, lay your day's wardrobe atop the clean, warm hobs to remove wrinkles. Shake 'em out, put 'em on. Or vice versa, I suppose, if you like to dress yourself with a little personality.
4. Refresh stale cookies and bread
Rejuvenate day-old bread or cookies by placing them on the rack of the simmering oven. Drop an ice cube on the floor of the oven, and close to the door to allow the steam to hydrate the food. Or, if the bread is extra dry, cut off the ends, run under water for a few minutes and place on the floor of the roasting oven for no more than 5 minutes to revive its texture.
5. Fast and flavorful coffee
Whether you prefer a French press or Chemex pot, you can enjoy a hot cup of brew with maximum flavor (and caffeine, yippee!) in a matter of minutes. The even, high heating surface of the AGA boiling plate will get your kettle whistling fast. Just pour the hot water filtered over coffee grounds before serving.
Fellow AGA owner and star of Bravo TV's "Million Dollar Makeovers", designer Kathryn M. Ireland is show here preparing coffee using this very technique.
6. Cook bacon without the mess
I love bacon, but I do not love the grease spatter that typically comes with cooktop preparation. Instead, I lay the slabs of bacon across the wires of a roasting pan and place in the roasting oven to cook until crispy.
7. Dry odds and ends
AGA is also perfect for spotless dish drying (even those tricky baby bottles) and soft-drying laundry, soggy shoes and other damp articles. Either suspend the items on a clothesline above the AGA, or set directly on the cooktop, and let the AGA finish your drying chores as you keep on moving along.
8. Warm plates
Place a stack of dinner plates in the simmering oven to warm minutes before serving, and you'll add a gourmet touch to the meal's presentation that's all in the details. Practically speaking, it prolongs the warmth of food after it's placed on the table to enjoy.
9. Dehydrate herbs and flowers
Suspend your garden trimmings above the AGA for the ideal dehydrating environment. It's how long-lasting dried floral arrangements casually come together without losing color. And, it's best for preserving herbs for cooking while keeping their natural flavor. Plus, it looks quite charming. See?
10. Warm your winter gear and stay cozy
When winter nips at our door and ice creeps across the window panes, I keep Jules resting in slumber mode for a delightful ambient heat. It’s fantastic for warming our cold-weather apparel before heading out on a frigid winter day and ensures us a warm welcome home. This was heaven-sent during that last bout of arctic weather conditions we had here in Michigan!
P.S. Don’t be surprised if your pets are magnetized by its warmth.
11. Room humidifier
Leave a pot of water on the simmering plate to rehydrate air. I suggest you set a timer, so you remember it’s there! We will be relying on this when cold and flu season hits. I'll most likely add essential oils to fill the house with the soothing aroma of eucalyptus.
12. Make dried bread
If a recipe calls for dry bread crumbs and I’m all out, I take fresh bread and accelerate the process by leaving it in the simmering oven with the door open. It's days like that I feel like the MacGyver of cooking.