Thursday, August 4, 2011

Turning Up the Heat

This week I've been coming to grips with my new stove.

Over the years I've cooked on wood-burning, propane, gas, electric, and smooth-topped stoves plus campfires, charcoal grills, hibachis and Sterno.  At Girl Scout camp I even learned to bake in a reflector oven.  This stove, however, is going to take some getting used to.  Don't get me wrong - it's a beautiful stove.  It just isn't quite what I expected.

First of all, a couple of nights ago I opened the oven door to look for the broiler pan and it wasn't there.  It wasn't any other logical place, either.  Finally my sister, witness to my puzzlement, informed me that many stoves no longer automatically come with broiler pans; they must be special-ordered.  This baffles me.  Don't people broil any more?  Surely not every consumer has switched to the George Foreman grill.  What happens when the family wants steak and the snow is a foot deep on their Weber grill?  I guess they do what I did that night - fry it instead.  I need to look up the model on the manufacturer's website and see what I have to do to order a broiler pan.

The other issue I'm facing is the speed and calibration of the stovetop burners.  My previous smooth-top range had instant-ignition halogen heating units that rivaled gas for speed, and the numbers on the knobs roughly corresponded to the heat levels I'd experienced with electric coil burners.  The burners on my new stove tend to take a long time to heat up, but once they do, oh, baby.  Level 3 for this stove seems to be equivalent to level 10 on the electric coil burner stove I just left behind.  (This explains why the onions I intended to caramelize as part of dinner came out as onion crisps instead.)  I believe I'll be doing a lot of cooking on Low.

Of course, the cooking situation hasn't been helped by the fact that so far I haven't unpacked much of my basic kitchen equipment.  (The kitchen boxes seem to be buried under a huge heap of book boxes.)  I'm getting pretty creative with the microwave, my omelet pan, and the one spatula I've located.  Oh, well, nobody in his or her right mind wants to do anything too fancy in an Arizona kitchen at this time of the year - we're all wary of pushing our air conditioners past their limits.

Which means I'll probably have to wait another couple of months to explore the final frontier - does the oven actually work, and what's the temperature control like in there?

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