Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ode to the Range

I was just at the end of cooking my son's 16th birthday dinner--just keeping everything warm, actually, while my husband ran out to Safeway to pick up some last minute item for dinner.
While he was gone, the beast died.

I say I learned to cook on its back, but that's not quite right.

I met this range when I moved into our house. My husband owned it and shared it with two rent paying friends. I started using it right away, but only in a limited way.

Since I knew how to bake, I started our marriage off there. I decided to replace my husbands weekly box of taco chips with home made muffins. I thought it would be healthier for him to eat those on his breaks at work.

I did know how to cook. I could whip up spaghetti sauce. I could cook meatloaf and muffins. But I cooked like single people do: a few times a week, living off the batches I made between times. It took a while--a long while--before I learned how to cook a meal every single day.

I had to find flylady first. That happened in 2000, after my daughter was born. I was surrounded by chaos, a three and a half year old son and a baby. Like a drowning man sees the lights upon the shore, I found her late one night on the internet.

I remember the first time I took my knobs off the stove to clean them, I scrubbed off all the markings.


I never cleaned them again.

Through her, I discovered Leanne Ely and her marvelous cookbooks, Saving Dinner. She could have called them, "Saving the Family." I ordered my copy through a local independent book seller, now, sadly, closed.

I eventually got into the rhythm. I added soups and stews to my repertoire to replace the ramen noodles my husband took for his lunches. I started roasting chickens every Sunday, and stir-frying other bits --something every single night. I discovered I enjoyed cooking. And my husband loved it. He grew up on boxed cold cereal for breakfast, heavily watered canned soup for lunch and I don't know what for dinner. Yesterday, while wolfing down a homemade chicken corn chowder, he told us the only soup his mom ever made was to add a can of corn to a can of Campbell's chicken noodle. That's the sort of "home cooking" he got.

He loves mine.

But, over the years, the oven ran hotter and hotter. A few years ago, I put an appliance thermometer in it to discover just how hot. At 400 it was 500. But it wasn't consistent. So, to be safe, I reduced all my baking times by five to ten minutes.

My husband replaced the baking element twice, maybe three times. I know we bought two heat sensors at $100 a pop. My husband learned his way around the back of the stove.

The elements got slower and slower. He replaced an element earlier this year and had to learn how to change the wiring from hard wiring it in to a "plug-in." It worked, but it would unplug itself whenever a pan knocked against it (and a pan was always knocking itself against it.)  
He replaced the fuses constantly.

I believe the range was built in the late 70's. My only evidence is the colour scheme and the faux wood metal handles. If that's true, then this range was over thirty years old before it became unfixable. (And actually, we could have fixed it had the part we needed still been manufactured.)

When we bought our new range, they said it should last ten years. Ten years?
A blink of an eye.


Carol-Anne said...

Really nicely written! Funny how an appliance can tell so much about your life!

Alana in Canada said...

Thank you, Carol-Ann! This appliance was a big part of our life!

Rita@thissortaoldlife said...

You are so right about 10 years being just a blink--and how sad is it that our appliances don't last the way they used to? I hate how so many of our things are built to be thrown away--appliances and clothing, especially.

And I know just what you mean about cooking. My mom did always cook a dinner every night, but it is only at this late stage of the game that I'm learning how to do it. It is a lot of work (for me, because I don't know much and am not very good at it), but the more I'm learning the more enjoyable it is. I get such satisfaction when I try a new recipe and the kids like it!

onshore said...

Oh so true, previously appliances could be fixed, now everything is done so that if a something breaks it cannot be removed and replaced or fixed, that is unbelievably dumb.
Our dishwasher is from the late 80's , it's pump has been replaced once and the seals have been replace, but it's such a good device and washes well.

Linda said...

loved this post, Alana! Interesting, how these daily servant, I mean, appliances, in our lives become such a part of our lives.
We are getting ready to replace my cooktop, who is only 15 years old, though she still seems quite new to me! And her brothers (the double wall ovens) are acting up and will likely need to be replaced soon, also. So sad.
I hope your new stove enjoys her new home and you all have a long and lovely life together.

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