You know what I don’t understand? Why they can’t invent a stove that will stay clean (and don’t even get me started on the oven).
Earlier this week, I helped a friend clean house, among other things scrubbing her glass-top stove. I was so envious a few years back when she got it, imagining a smooth, pristine surface for all time. Now I’m glad I got to “go to school” on her purchase. I’d never buy one after seeing what happened with hers (are they even making them anymore?).
Okay, anybody who has a housekeeper, go make yourself a cup of coffee. If you never use your stove, what are you doing on a cooking Web site? The rest of you, let’s get real: Is your stove top a mess or what? Mine is, even though I try to keep after it. It’s the standard four-top electric stove top with the gunky buildup around the discolored silver rings and liners that — if a forensic culinarian investigated — would tell the story of everything that ever boiled over, spilled and burned, splattered or got tossed out of a pot while I was stir-frying.
But the stove looks neat enough from a distance in comparison to my friend’s glass-top, which, despite everyone’s best efforts after it was first installed, quickly became stained with spillovers. Neither the non-abrasive cleaner nor the single-sided razor blade that came with the stove make much difference. Now there are four ineradicable rings in the glass.
Furthermore, I find the burner guide counter-intuitive, you don’t know which dial pertains to which burner. The result of that was one spectacular Passover when, celebrating with Jewish friends, I had spent nearly an hour boning a couple of chickens for matzoh ball soup. Readying for dinner, I placed a Pyrex dish filled with the chicken on the glass-top, believing all the burners were turned off. The stove is equipped with red lights that remain lit when a burner is warm, whether it’s turned on or not, but I missed them. I was standing with my back to the stove, chatting with a friend, when the casserole dish exploded. Shards of glass were propelled forcefully into my hair (which was thankfully thick and long at the time) and past me into the kitchen. There was glass and chicken everywhere! We had clear matzoh soup. My friend was sweeping up slivers for weeks.
(Reminded me of an old Billy Crystal joke: Mrs. Weinstein breaks a glass in her kitchen in 1952. In 1975, she sells the house but as she guides the buyers through, she shakes her head and wrings her hands saying in her thick Yiddish accent: “I broke a glass; I can’t be responsible.”)
This is going to sound like an ad for the gas company but the only stove I’ve ever worked with that appealed to the Virgo side of me (which would like to see the entire world fresh-scrubbed at all times, and detests gunk and crud and mess) was my brother’s gas stove. No rings. No liners. Heavy-duty enamel that easily wiped clean of the worst messes. Burner covers that readily lifted off. A symphony in white and black. Somebody was thinking when they invented that one. Brother’s been remodeling and I miss that stove like crazy. (We won’t discuss the time I set my apron on fire after too much glog at Christmas.)
It is widely acknowledged in the cooking world that gas stoves offer pinpoint temperature control, not to mention an open flame over which peppers and such can be roasted and alcohol-based sauces can be tilted to catch fire and caramelize. All that and easy cleaning? One more thing for my bucket list: To have a gas stove (a Sub-Zero Wolf refrigerator, a hardwood sprung-floor kitchen, a pantry as deep as my living room, an airing cupboard, a root cellar and a commis — French for kitchen assistant) before I die!
P.S.: Round Two of Artisan Breads in Five Minutes: Same thing, delicious bread, well-baked, won’t rise, no oven spring. Really convenient, though. I’m going to try it without the bread flour (just all purpose and whole wheat) but I don’t think that’s the problem. I’m preheating the oven until my electric bowl will be the size of the national debt, baking on a hot stone, putting hot water into the oven to steam it up before the bread bakes. This special method absolutely forbids kneading but I think the dough is too wet and needs to be kneaded (and don’t we all?).
Wanda, here is a story, with photos, of someone who gets the bread to rise: