Monday, July 5, 2010

You never know how much you love your oven

Until you don't have your oven.

On Father's Day, I asked my husband what he wanted for his special dinner and his answer surprised me a bit: homemade sloppy joes on sesame buns and tater tots. Or, as I call them, potato puffs, being as how I cannot force the word "tater" out of my mouth; it kind of hurts to even type it. This is because I am a food snob and I know that this is a personal failing and a petty weakness, but "tater" is an ugly word. "Yogurt" is an ugly word too, but since my only alternative is to call it "curdled milk swarming with bacteria," I prefer to stick with the ugly name. "Potato" is a whole different story.

I made my husband's sloppy joes and heated up the oven to 450 degrees with my Grandmother Marshall's huge cast-iron skillet inside it (the only way that potato puffs or roasted potatoes develop a crispy crust in the oven). When it was finished heating, I hurriedly dumped half a bag of potato puffs in it, pushed the oven rack back in and closed the door.

And then I stood there pondering for a moment, opened the oven door again, and grabbed the handle of my cast-iron skillet.

If the oven had been hot -- which it wasn't -- this maneuver would have been accompanied by wild screams and fervent cussing.

I went to the living room and told my husband that potato puffs were off the menu.

A few days passed, mostly because I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the following week employed in packing for CousinFest. This included not only packing clothes, but also packing a cooler and a hamper, both stuffed full of food. We don't mess around at CousinFest, when it comes to eating. I felt that I just didn't have the time to wait around for a repairman to come and fix whatever was wrong, but boy, do I wish I had.

Because when we got back? I called the Will Will Repair Your Appliance if it's the Last Thing We Ever Do place last Monday, one week ago today. And a repairman oblingly came over, stuck his head in the oven, announced that the thingamadooey was wrong with the whatchamacallit, told me he needed to order a part, and disappeared.

We've heard nothing from him since.

And I have been stricken by an urge to bake things. It's hard, I find, to plan menus around things that can only be cooked on the stove, although I did resort to "baking" some enchiladas in my electric skillet the other evening. In my opinion, the microwave is good for steaming vegetables and melting butter and heating up Thanksgiving leftovers. It even does a passable -- if overly zealous -- job of thawing pork chops; you have to keep your eye on it every second because my idea of defrosting the pork chops means that the ice is barely knocked off them and my microwave's idea of defrosting lies somewhere between nuclear fusion and the surface temperature of the sun. But I do not bake things in the microwave. That is unnatural behavior, I don't care what my eighth grade home ec teacher said.

So! The stove it is. Tonight we're having scrambled eggs, bacon (acceptably microwaveable) and grits. Tomorrow we're having stir fry. And if the appliance guy isn't back with the stove's part by then, we're either going to keep repeating scrambled eggs and stir fry ad infinitum, or start having Spaghetti-O's for dinner.


Kayte said...

Summer is as nice a time as ever to be without an oven...some days one does not feel like turning the beast on at all, so maybe if anything nice can be said, it is this. Otherwise, boo hoo...broken ovens are no fun at all. It's like the car, when it is in the shop I can think of a million things I need to do, all involving a car. On any given day, I can think of lots of reasons not to go out and stay home and just get things done around here. It's just the whole principle of the thing. Grill...there's always the grill! You can make a whole meal on a grill, meat, potatoes, veggies, and dessert! Campfire cooking, too! Pioneer Shelley! Hope it gets fixed soon.

Heather said...

"curdled milk swarming with bacteria"
-Love it. I think I'll offer that to the kids this weekend...