Stove Talk

November 6, 2011

In this post we go stove shopping.

Cynthia loves to bake. Bread and cookies and bagels and you know, carb stuff and sweet stuff. Coincidentally, both of us like to eat what she bakes. Neither of us however, can afford the carb-o-calories, as one 4-ounce bagel split in two transmutes to a 37-pound weight gain per person. But no matter, she likes to bake as it is one of the major ways that she expresses love. She usually keeps a small amount for us and gives the rest away to friends and neighbors.

A couple years ago we were living in a different rental house that had an old, crappy 20-inch gas stove. It was no fun to cook on and not much fit in the oven. So we went stove shopping. We came home with a 36-inch Bompani gas range.

Image from the Bompani website

The Italian-made Bompani looks great and we had high hopes for it. I understand that others like their Bompanis, but we don’t. Maybe it needs a tune up or adjustment, but we aren’t the only ones here in our area who don’t like this model stove. The stove top burners take forever to light and then blow a lot of air. The oven is a big disappointment for Cynthia as it doesn’t get hot enough to bake bread well or brown.

Indeed, I had to convert our BBQ grill into a pizza oven by putting firebricks on the grill. Cynthia makes the dough (with Herbs de Provence) and homemade sauce and I bake them in the BBQ. I’m a vegetarian, but I understand her chicken (not nuggets from a box) pizza with BBQ sauce is dee-eee-licious. Perfect pizza every time. But I digress. The other day Cynthia made some delicious bagels but instead of ten minutes in the oven they took twenty and still didn’t brown.

So a few weeks ago we went stove shopping. A must have on her list is a convection oven. We decided on gas as electricity here is expensive and can be quite unreliable. Also, most electric ovens are computer controlled and have lots of digital do-dads on the back panel, all of which are vulnerable to our frequent power surges, brown outs and black outs.

We found our options very limited. One store had a gas on gas convection, a Frigidaire Professional series. But the unit seemed to have a split personality;  although the placard said “Professional,”  there were way-goofy digital buttons on the dashboard that said things such as “Pizza” and our personal favorite, “Chicken Nuggets.” We had to stop and visualize a professional chef, let’s call him Adolfo (no last name, just Adolfo), at a high end restaurant opening a box of frozen chicken nuggets to cook for the hungry folks at table 8. Huh?

Also, we don’t want a dashboard at the back of the stove as the stove will be situated in an island in the kitchen.

We kept looking. Although way, way out of our budget, we stopped at the Viking store on Ave. Brasil. They have a gas convection wall oven for “only” $4,200. Like the Bompani it looks great. Maybe we could get a separate cook top and the Viking wall oven.

Image from the Viking website

We could save for it, Cynthia loves to cook, and it would be a reasonable splurge (swallow hard). As we left the showroom the sales agent sent us off with a bundle of advertising glossies the size of a phone book.

We lived with this idea for a few weeks, then two things happened.

I (conveniently at breakfast time) often drop in to see our Panamanian neighbors I. and J. They always have a glass of fresh fruit juice and a Panamanian tortilla (more like polenta) for me. We sit on the back porch and I share the recent gossip of our neighborhood as they are here only on the weekends. I mentioned the Viking to I. and he said that I should Google it because his daughter has a kitchen full of Viking and it has all needed frequent, expensive repairs.

Sure ‘nuf, the Internet seems to be full of complaints about Viking. Seems that they now outsource much of their line. I read about an architect who specified Viking in a kitchen. He and his clients have been very unhappy with the performance and durability of the entire line. One reviewer said, get a GE. It is better and cheaper.

Cynthia and I aren’t appliance snobs (remember my refrigerator conversion?) so I can’t say that we are crushed or disappointed by the Google revelations. But what to do?

The second thing that happened is that during our Googlizing, we came across the old electric vs. gas oven debate. What we took away was quite surprising to us. Seems that gas is a moist heat (water is a bi-product of burning gas), good for not drying out roasts and the like. Electric is a dryer heat, good for browning breads and such. Huh, who knew.

So, being that Cynthia’s focus is on baking breads and not meat, we are now toying with the idea of getting a good gas cooktop and a separate, reasonably priced electric convection wall oven, one cheap enough to repair or replace if it gets zapped by an electric spike, probably a GE or whichever doesn’t have the stoopid “Chicken Nuggets” button. We just aren’t push button food type people I guess. That shopping trip is for another day. Stay tuned.

In other news, Cynthia has just cut out fabric for five new shirts for me. This afternoon, she woke me up from a slumber in the hammock to show me a piece of fabric. Okay, I stand corrected. She didn’t directly wake me up. But she did have Jabo take his current favorite chew toy, a flattened two-liter plastic soda bottle, then directed him to “Give it to Dad.” Every time he gnaws on it is makes a very loud crinkling sound, sure to wake any husband from a Sunday siesta.

“Look at this!” she exclaimed.
Wiping the sleep from my eyes, all I could see was a piece of fabric.
“Find the pocket,” she said.
“I don’t see any pocket,” I said.
She handed the fabric to me and, upon close inspection, sure enough there was the pocket.
“Now look inside,” she instructed.
“Wow, look at that, the inside of the pocket is a contrasting fabric,” I said.
So here is the first shirt in progress. Try to find the pocket!

Find the pocket. It's there!

That’s all for now.

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