M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Monday, January 05, 2004  

Death in the Kitchen

Our new oven is a big improvement over our old oven. For a while we had no oven at all, and even that was an improvement over our old oven.

Our new oven isn’t technically new. It dates back to the sixties. But when it was installed, it had a pristine blue-gray finish inside that was so spotless it looked as if it had never been used. This, after over forty years of service.

How long would you imagine it took for us to mess all that up? If your guess is a year, you’re giving us too much credit.

Back in December I set out to make a few holiday pecan pies. I made several missteps in the course of this project.

1. For the first time, I attempted baking a pecan pie in a pastry crust. This actually turned out fine. The two pies I was baking in graham cracker crusts, however, did not fare as well. Those ended up as reservoirs of liquid under charred manhole covers.

2. I put too much filling in at least one of the crusts, and probably all of them.

3. I didn’t just go to the store and buy three pecan pies.

What happens to pecan pie filling when it heats up is that it expands. Normally the surface tension is enough to keep it inside the pan, but not in this case. Gobbets of the sugary, eggy mixture overflowed onto the bottom of the oven and the inside of the door, where contact with the hot surfaces caused it to do something that I would describe as caramelizing, if not for the fact that this stuff is pretty close to being caramel to begin with. What state of matter comes after caramel? My experience tells me, “fossil fuel.”

So aside from the temporary inconvenience of two pies being ruined and my kitchen smelling like the Dole Sugar Plantation in flames, my shiny, beautiful, new (to me) oven now looked as if Satan had hocked a number of loogies into it.

So yesterday, when I was giving the kitchen a thorough cleaning, the signs indicated that this would probably be a good time to take care of the mess in the oven. And when I refer to “the signs,” I mean that I wasn’t struck dead by a merciful God the moment the idea occurred to me. Not then, at least.

I broke out the can of Easy Off, the one that’s older than our marriage, the one that hasn’t seen daylight since the year had two nines and a five in it (what? Our old oven was black inside. As far as we knew, it always had been). I read the directions, which told me to heat the oven to two hundred degrees, which I did. Then I donned rubber gloves, per the warnings on the label, and proceeded to spray the uber-toxic corrosive into the small space where our food goes before we eat it.

As the foam came into contact with two-hundred degree metal and instantly vaporized into columns of malevolent-looking mist, I tried to recall whether the label had said anything about gas masks. I watched it curiously, quickly becoming aware of a distinctly hostile taste in my mouth. No, wait. The taste was in my nose. And in my brain.

Window open. Fan on.

I am able to post today only because I thought to slam the door shut immediately after the second application of canned death. Yes, it took not one, not two, but three jousts with aerosolized Alien blood to get the incinerated gobbets cleared out.

But the oven looks nice again. I’d like to keep it that way. I wonder how many coats of spray paint it would take to paint it black?

Today’s best search phrase: “Inflatable ass c**t football stretch.” Sometimes I feel bad for people who really aren’t going to find what they’re looking for, even on the Internet. This isn’t one of those times.

posted by M. Giant 6:52 PM 0 comments


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