Thursday, June 30, 2016

Oven 101

Who would think I required instructions for an oven? After all, I have been cooking forever, or so it seems.

But apparently a lesson on our new kitchen range proved necessary.

Backtracking…we purchased a new range about a month ago. Nowadays I rarely use a traditional oven. My microwave includes a convection bake and roast feature, and I have become a fan of the convection cooking process. Also the microwave is smaller than the oven. We are a two person household and do not need a huge oven.

Ovens are useful when others join the party. A couple of weeks ago I cooked dinner for 10 people. Nothing fancy, roast chicken.

I had never used my new oven, but was unconcerned. I have owned and operated ovens throughout my adult life. They are not difficult, complex machines. Controls are well marked and understandable.

I checked the chicken while cooking, gradually growing anxious. The birds barely cooked, stubbornly remaining tough when pierced and refusing to turn golden brown…

Dinnertime rolled around and passed, everyone hungry, especially the kids. Bedtime neared…

We ate a meal course-by-course, salad, bread, then veggies. Increasing the oven temperature helped, but obviously my shiny new appliance was flawed.

Eventually enough chicken baked for dinner.

The following day hub called the store where we purchased the oven and set a date for the repairman to come and check out our defective appliance.

The repairman drove up about 3:00 p.m. I guess working folk figure retirees have nothing better to do all day than wait for repair people. But on the positive side he did show up. Trusty repairman and hub huddled around the range.

A few minutes later hub calls me in for a consultation.

The repair guy says something like, “This temperature problem has been an issue with these hi-tech ovens. You are not the first to complain. The oven temperature can vary about 30 degrees above or below the set temperature. I reset it for a deviation of 20 high to compensate. But now you can plan your cooking. All this information is detailed on page eight in the manual. If this is not enough, you can modify the setting to 30 degrees; it requires some experimentation.” 


I never read page eight of the manual. I never read pages one through seven, or any page after eight either.

I thought I knew how to use an oven.

Silly me. The latest technology overtook my limited knowledge, making oven information stored in my brain inadequate, unworthy of my new appliance.

My chickens took forever to bake because the temperature remained 30 degrees lower than the temperature set and the temperature indicated on the control panel. I told my family this was a very forgettable meal, but they corrected me. It will be a very memorable meal, they informed me, just not in the way I might like.

I flunked my first cooking assignment with my new appliance. My next assignment will be a repeat performance, hopefully more successful.

The problem: I have no plans in the near future to cook for 10 people. What would I do with all the extra food?

I may have to settle for cooking for two, or maybe four or five, inviting friends or freezing leftovers.

I do not want to flunk Oven 101 a second time. 


  1. You'll get used to it... by experimenting. I've been cooking with an AGA for 10 years now. It has no controls... stays at the same heat all the time. And the ovens and hobs vary a bit in temp by a few degrees. But I've learned to compensate. So will you I'm sure.
    But I know what you mean. We recently got a new laptop. Our old desktop computer is still on Vista. But the laptop has Windows 10... we were lost until we had someone instruct us.

  2. I expect problems with electronic devices, but never realized appliances could be so complicated.

  3. Absurd! Why should WE have to compensate for a manufacturing flaw? I'm on the verge of replacing my relatively new (2 yrs) clothes washer. Every now and then it whimsically leaves deposits of solidified lint embedded in the clothes, often requiring a re-wash.

    1. We replaced our new (less than 2 yrs old) microwave twice because of problems. Our response has been no more GE appliances. (Our new oven is a Maytag.) Good luck shopping for and finally choosing a new washer. Nothing is easy anymore!

  4. I remember when the biggest challenge for us was being able to pay for new appliances. Now that we're older, it's easier to afford them, but trying to figure out all the high tech features nearly wears me out. I know I sound like a crotchety old woman, but I miss the old days when we had dials and numbers minus the flashing lights and message screens. Our new frig has a killer icemaker--literally. If you open the freezer when the icecubes are being released, you'd better duck, because they shoot out everywhere. Not to mention it sounds like we're living in a war zone when those cubes hit the interior walls. No kidding, when we first bought it, and heard those sounds, we thought someone was shooting a gun outside. Oh well, we had so much trouble finding a fridge that fit in the space we had, we're gonna grin and bear it. Maybe I should leave a helmet on the counter next to the frig.

    1. Thanks for reminding me I should be grateful that now we can afford the appliance without credit card payments. When we replaced our refrigerator we also had difficulty finding one that fit. We weren't going to remodel for a fridge.

  5. I use my microwave (just a plain one) for most warmup type things, but the regular oven for things like baked potatoes or baking salmon. I didn't know anything about the weird things one of these ovens do. I'll avoid them. :-)

    1. Companies think they are doing consumers a favor offering more complex machines. My philosophy - less is more and much, much better. Keep it simple!

  6. Brave you. The world is changing too fast isn't it? I learned to cook on a gas stove. My son has a range that looks like the instrument panel of a fighter jet. I am learning how to use my microwave.

  7. I use my older microwave for much and hope it lasts the rest of my days. I had to replace my oven a few years ago and bought a combination with convection. I've never used the convection feature and after reading the problems here i don't look forward to doing so. Cooking for one hasn't required me to use my regular oven that much. Most recently i had to get a new dishwasher and its proving to be a disappointment. Also, may have too much technology in these appliances sometimes.