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crock pots

Coping With Loss

When I left the house Tuesday morning, everything was fine. When I arrived home, a little later than usual but not ridiculously so, something was wrong. Very wrong.

It just lay there. No spark, no light, no response when prodded.

Time was of the essence and I was alone. I went through the 5 Stages of Grief rapid-fire:

  • Denial: No way, not happening, it can’t be! It was fine, before, it’s just a glitch, right?
  • Anger: Damnit, I did NOT need this tonight! I had plans and this is just royally screwing them up!
  • Bargaining: Wait, maybe if I try this… no. What about? Still no.
  • Depression: This just… I don’t know how I’m going to manage without it. How am I going to tell Todd?!
  • Acceptance: Okay, it’s done. Time to make a call.

The oven was dead.

(Reading back over that I could easily see how I might have been talking about something else, like my laptop–monkey forbid!–but no, it was just the oven.)

Unfortunately, last night’s supper was planned to be 2/3 completed in the oven.  And heaven only knows what’s wrong with it–the range still works so it’s not the whole unit–since it’s a digital oven and falls into the ‘more advanced, more things to break’ realm of things.

Depending, too, on how long the landlord takes to fix it, we may well be sans oven for a while. (He really likes to fix things himself rather than calling in actual repair-persons which tends to take longer–like the 2 days and 3 trips to fix the front door deadbolt whereas a locksmith could have done it in one.) I really hope that’s not the case, though, I love my oven.

Sure, some folks use theirs for storage or drying out shoes (or curing paint on miniatures), but we use ours for the actual heating of food. Roasting of meats and veggies. Baking of breads. And I was planning on another run of double chocolate muffins this week, too! Are you really going to keep a woman from her double chocolate muffins, Fate, are ya?

I hope to hell not!

Fortunately, I am resourceful and, well, humans managed to go centuries before the first indoor ovens were developed. I can deal with this little set-back.

Dinner was rearranged, a substitution was sent in for one portion of the meal and it turned out okay.

Fact: Microwaves can cook most things.

Fact: Some people (foodie people) don’t trust microwaves for anything other than sterilizing sponges. (I am not one of those people–it’s also great for melting chocolate!)

Fact: Items cooked in a microwave will NOT turn out the same as those cooked in an oven.

Can you “bake” a potato in the microwave? Yes, and it takes under 10 minutes. Will you get that fluffy texture that makes a baked potato a baked potato? Not so much. (Though the rumor is that if you stick the potato in an oven mit and microwave it as such, you’ll get pretty doggone close.)

Without getting into the whys and hows (a topic for another day? perhaps), suffice it to say that a microwave can’t solve all your problems. But there are other tools in the average kitchen that can.

First up is the toaster oven. I’ll be honest, I totally forgot we had one of these in my moments of scrambled panic (I don’t always do well in a crisis). Reason being: it’s Todd’s. The last time I had a toaster oven in a home I lived in was in college (it was a roommate’s) and I never could really figure the thing out. And even though I’m much more comfortable with it these days and we’ve given away my old toaster, I still forget it’s there unless I’m staring straight at it.

Capacity of most toaster oven’s is pretty small, but if you do things in batches and give it enough time to heat up it shouldn’t be a problem to do some basic broiling, baking, roasting or otherwise dry-air cooking methods. Of course, some are about half the size of a regular oven (and almost as big as the little efficiency oven I baked my first wedding cake-for-hire in) and are perfectly suited to switching from toasting to roasting. It’s a nice back-up to have, especially if you’re only cooking for 1 or 2 most days and it’s just not worth heating up a full-sized oven.

Maybe not as a common an appliance but one we are happy to have in our home is this counter-top electric roaster. A Christmas gift, last year, it’s already been used for roasting duck and stuffed leg of lamb and did fabulous both times. Can hardly wait for Thanksgiving to try it out with a turkey! This particular model also comes with 3 inserts that convert the roaster into a steam table for buffet service. Nice, huh?

Rumor has it that you can also actually bake in it by using the rack that was included. This rumor might just get tested if I’m left with no oven over a 3-day weekend.

Oh, and let’s not forget the marvelous and wonderful slow-cooker when we’re looking for oven alternatives! It may take a bit of forethought to set it up and wait 4-8 hours for dinner, but if you’ve got the time you’ve got the means. A small one would make a great stand-in for a casserole dish in the oven if you’re planning on a lasagna or tuna noodle casserole anytime soon.

Seriously? I used to despise these things. When I first got married back in 1995 we purposefully didn’t register for one. Three people thought that was an oversight and we ended up with a triplet of crocks. Two we gave away to family members but the third we kept. That Crock Pot has lasted longer than both of my previous marriages combined and is still going strong. And when Todd and I combined households, the double slow cooker issue was not one we spent too much time worrying about (his is slightly larger than mine, so now we can options–options are good).

Finally, think outside the kitchen. If you’ve got a gas grill hanging out on your patio or deck, you could rig up a suitable oven as long as the propane holds out! You’ve got two options, really. If you’ve got multiple sections, turn on one or two along the outside and set your roasting pan on the center, unheated section to take advantage of the indirect heating going on. If you’ve only got a single dial, use the warming rack to hold your ovenable goods and get pretty much the same effect.

It might also be good to have  an oven thermometer in there just to make sure you’re maintaining enough heat where you’re cooking.

Wow, apparently crisis makes me all sorts of wordy! Blogging must be my pressure release valve for this sort of thing.

In actual progress-news I’m still working on the backlog of recipe-related data entry. Making headway but still behind. Come on 3-day weekend!

Have a safe and happy one, folks!

~~~oOo~~~

All photos in this post courtesy of Amazon.com and yes, by golly, they are most definitely affiliate links.

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