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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

How we stay warm while we delay turning on our furnace

Maple-Pecan Cookies

I tend to bake and cook more often this time of year than even in the dead of winter. This week I've baked cookies, a pan of cornbread, 2 coffee cakes, a 3-loaf batch of wheat bread, roasted a whole chicken, cooked beef stew and 2 pots of soup, made a pan of baked beans, and kept the dehydrator going with plums and tomatoes all week, on top of using the stovetop for quick-cooking. I'm doing all of this house-warming cooking because it adds a bit of heat to the house in these last few weeks before we turn on the furnace.

Italian Prunes, halved, pitted and dried

It may still be warm during the day where you live, but for us in the maritime northwest, the daytime highs have cooled substantially. A daytime high of 62 degrees F feels chillier  to me when the temperatures drop off in the early fall than when the cold winter yields to spring. To compensate, we're putting extra layers on our bodies and extra layers on our beds.

I've never calculated if using the oven more to add heat to our house is more cost-effective than just turning on the furnace. But I do know that I can tolerate cooler indoor temps better if I'm moving around in the kitchen. And putting on a sweater or an extra blanket is the time-proven action that pairs with turning the thermostat down a degree or two. In addition, my family loves all of the extra baked goods and comfort foods they're getting right now.

Anyway, for every week we put off turning on the furnace, I'm sure we're saving at least a little money on utilities.

Want to bake some Maple-Pecan cookies?
Here's how I make mine:

I use a chocolate chip cookie recipe as a guide, substituting maple flavoring for vanilla extract and chopped pecans for chocolate chips. I use real butter as the fat and increase the flour called for in the recipe. Otherwise, the Maple-Pecan cookie recipe is pretty much like the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe on a package of chocolate baking chips.

Here are the ingredients and measurements:

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and flavoring. Mix in salt, soda, flour and pecans. Chill the dough for 30 minutes. 

Drop dough by teaspoonful onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees F for 9-11 minutes, until browned and crispy-looking around the edges. Remove from baking sheet right away.

These cookies baking in the oven not only warmed me up, but definitely made my house smell like fall.

Do you use your oven more in fall to help warm the house, too?


  1. We had about a week of cool daytime temperatures and even cooler at night. But later this week we'll have mid to high 70s and even 80s. We had more oven cooked meals and not too many goodies since I have to watch my sugar intake. I did make some soup and we put a nice warm blanket on our bed. For the next 5 days or so, it will be warm again but not the super hot temps, just comfortable.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I'm glad your area will be getting some lovely weather these next few days. Enjoy!

  2. Our new oven has good insulation, so the kitchen doesn't heat up much when we use it. However, my son's oven heats up his house quite a bit - not something he wanted during the summer. However, he may be using more soon. But for now, we are having wonderful, moderate, fall weather.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      A well-insulated oven will make baking and roasting in summer so much more bearable, won't it? Does your new oven have a window? And if it does, do you think more heat escapes through the glass than the rest of the oven's exterior?

      I would say our oven heats the kitchen a medium amount. What I really enjoy from it, though, is just after I take something out of the oven, I leave the door open to heat the kitchen. This works especially well if I time it so whatever I'm baking comes out of the oven about 5 minutes before dinner is ready.

      Enjoy the lovely fall weather!

  3. I'm having the same weather that Alice is having. :) Last week I was using the oven and stovetop more--partly to warm up the house, and partly because the food/baked goods that I only make when the temperatures are cooler seem like treats to us, since it's been awhile since we have had them.

    My daughter has a job at a local animal shelter and is gone 1-2 nights/week during the school year from 4:00-8:00, so I'm still adjusting to that with my cooking. I think I'll make tacos tonight--they reheat well.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Tacos sound delicious! And I agree with you -- they reheat pretty well. I've got taco salads on the menu for tomorrow night.

      What a fun job your daughter has in the evenings! I'm sure it's a bit of an adjustment for your cooking and the dinner hour. We've had wacky periods where I was either making dinner at unusually early hours, so we could eat together, or saving a plate for whoever had something going on in the evening. It all works out and we adjust.

  4. We do use the oven more in fall and winter, but not necessarily to heat the house. It's more of a chance to eat things we missed having in the summer due to not wanting to run it. We're "only" in the 90's here this week, at least. After weeks of 100's, often around 106-108, we had a cooldown and a little rain last week. Would have loved to continue with those temps, but at least this week is a good 10-15 degree cooler than much of the summer.

    Those maple pecan cookies sound delicious! I'll have to give them a try. I do love those flavors in my oatmeal cookies as well.

    1. Ha ha, Cat -- only in the 90s!!! Hopefully your daytime highs won't breach 100 again for a while. I'm sure the rain was very welcome.
      I can understand not being willing to heat up the kitchen during your intensely hot summers.


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