Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I think I've blogged previously about my ongoing battle with the oven. A year or two ago we took our friend Tom's fridge and stove. Tom was renovating, and had a barely used stove and a sparely used fridge. Our appliances, on the other hand, were worn out.

The fridge is great. It does what fridges do. It is cold on the inside and not cold on the outside. When you open the door, a light turns on. Good fridge.

The stove was not so great. The cook top worked fine, but the oven was an incinerator. It did not understand that the job of an oven is to achieve the specified temperature, then to stay as close as possible to that temperature until requested otherwise. The oven would get hot, then stop heating, then GET HOT!!! If you happened to have something in the oven when it went into "GET HOT!!!" mode, well, I hope you like your food very brown with black around the edges.

We learned to work with this amazingly awful oven. There were several tricks. For example, if I had a cake that needed to be baked for 35 minutes at 350, I would turn the oven on to preheat to 400. When it reached that temperature (or at least when it stopped heating), I would turn the temperature control down to 350, put the cake in and watch, listen and smell. This required coming into the kitchen at least every five minutes to check for flames licking out from the door of the oven, because the elements would periodically turn to red hot top and bottom and frizzle the poor cake. If the elements came on, I would notch the temperature control down to 325, 300, 275 (which was actually probably still 1000 degrees), to induce the element to turn off again to spare my poor cake. If - I mean when - the element came on again after that, I'd take the cake out, put it on top of the stove for a few minutes and repeat the procedure of preheating to 400, turning down to 350, putting the cake back in, etc. This usually worked except sometimes the oven would shut off altogether. I think it must have had a safety thermostat that would turn it off whenever it reached temperatures higher than those found on the surface of Mercury. In that case, I would leave the cake inside to bake with what heat remained, stand by and check to find out when the oven had cooled sufficiently to turn itself back on, then start all over again with the preheat procedure. Sometimes I could bake a cake in 35 minutes. Other times it took 1 hour due to the in/out on/off procedures. Other times it took 5 minutes, which was okay if it's a chocolate cake because they are black and brown by nature, and also if you don't mind your cake crunchy on the outside and wet on the inside.

Other defensive measures included putting a baking sheet on the lower rack as a heat deflector, and placing the cake pan on the upper rack in the middle of the oven. I'm sure I could have contacted NASA for some surplus heat shield material to make a canopy to put over top of the cake, but a piece of aluminum foil worked adequately.

I haven't mentioned yet that the outside of the oven would get just as hot as the inside. In the winter, it functioned much like a rustic wood stove in an old time cabin. In the summer, it functioned much like a rustic wood stove in an old time cabin.

Andy and Fiona learned defensive baking along with me. Alex decided that he will never bake.

So last week, our neighbours Dave and Doris finished their kitchen reno by purchasing an awesome black stove. Andy noticed that their old (well, fairly new) white stove was in their carport. He had a chat with Dave and the stove is ours. Andy and Alex surprised Fiona and me with it. We came home one night to find the old incinerator in our carport, and a lovely wonderful stove in our kitchen. Even better, our dear friends the Hyskas owned Dave and Doris's house before they moved to Newport. So we have the Hyskas' old stove. It has a flat cooktop and a wonderful oven. On Saturday morning I baked blueberry muffins and it took forever because I was so cautious with the temperature. I'll have to just go for it now. I baked yams last night and they turned out great. Fiona was a bit nostalgic about the old oven when she made herself a quesadilla. She said she kind of missed its super-speedy cooking of food. I think it's kind of like letting go of a dysfunctional relationship, but we'll get used to this kinder, gentler stove.

So all is well in the McIntyre house. Old incinerator is up for grabs for free at the neighbourhood garage sale on Saturday. We'll be honest about its shortcomings.

By the way, new stove is hot on the inside and cool on the outside. I think I will introduce it to fridge. I think they will get along together just great.

question: do you struggle with appliances?

mompoet - cooking with a smile

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