M. Giant's
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008  

Not Easy, But Plenty Off

When I was putting plastic shrinkwrap over the windows a couple of weeks ago, Trash and I were debating which windows we should leave unsealed. She's a good cook, but we do have the occasional smoke emergency in the kitchen when the oven gets too hot. It wouldn't be so bad if our smoke alarms weren't hard-wired into the house. Now when a black cloud rises forth we have to race open a window or two before the alarms start keening. It was much easier before we had a kid, when our smoke alarms were the kind we could just leave the batteries out of.

Anyway, the discussion of which windows to leave uncovered came to an end when Trash said, "Or we could grow up and clean the oven."

I said, "Meh," which I thought would be the end of it.

Except that on Thursday, we're hosting an "orphan Thanksgiving" at our house, and our friend BuenaOnda is in town from Mexico. And she wants to make the turkey. In our oven.

Now, all I know about cooking turkeys is what I've learned by cultural osmosis, and even that's limited by the fact that I shut down when I hear the word "cavity." But I don't want to have to say to BuenaOnda on Thursday morning, "Thanks so much for making the turkey! Don't turn the oven up past 293.2 degrees, 'kay?" So my course of action was obvious.

I wasn't happy about it, though. Cleaning an oven is a dirty, smelly, uncomfortable job. You have to take out all the racks and stuff. You have to work bent over. The can of oven cleaner lives in the deepest part of the space under the sink, and it dates back to a previous century. And for an individual like myself, the task is fraught with ways for me to get suffocated, poisoned, burned, and blown up all at the same time. If I want to know what it's like to have my head in an oven I'll read The Bell Jar. Plus it's so hard to find a putty knife.

And how often are you supposed to clean an oven, anyway? I mean, it's not like we've cleaned this one before, but we haven't even had it that long. Barely five and a half years, in fact. Don't tell me we have to take on this project twice a decade.

But last night I sucked it up. Yes, I sprayed oven cleaner all around inside there and closed the door. All done!

Then today I thought I should probably finish the job. Again, I don't know what BuenaOnda's exact plans for the turkey are, but I can't imagine she'll want it to taste…what's the word? Caustic? After I was done, I cranked the dial up to "Broil," and ten minutes later the air in the kitchen was Antarctica-clear save for a pleasant aromatic hint of finely aged gravy. Plus I had forgotten that the brownish panel set into the front is in fact a window through which one can view one's food without opening the door. Genius!.

Except before all that, I decided I needed some rubber gloves first, based on the instructions on the Easy Off can ("Neglecte not to protect thy meat-hooks with gloving of cured sheep's-bladder" are the exact words). I don't own rubber gloves. I don't even rent them, like Fletch. So I went to the drugstore to pick some up, and then walked off and forgot them at the register so I had to drive back. When I got home, I discovered that rubber gloves come in different sizes. I may have the smallest hands of any bass guitar player in history, but the mediums are small enough to get me acquitted. And when I had to answer the door to the big, burly FedEx guy with my hands encased in dainty yellow rubber like my mom used to wear to mop the floor, I felt oddly self-conscious. I found myself wishing for mighty black gauntlets all the way up to my elbows, along with a matching apron or even hip waders. Add a splatter shield for my face and I could have been rendering a hog or dismembering a corpse in the bathtub.

And then, when I was finished and everything was back together and the oven had been on "broil" for eleven minutes, every smoke alarm in the house went off. But that was only because of the skillet I had set on a lit burner to dry and then forgotten about.

So the oven's clean, but maybe there's still a little growing up to do.

posted by M. Giant 8:05 PM 7 comments


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By Blogger John Wolf, at November 25, 2008 at 9:31 PM  

It's time for a new oven w/self cleaning feature!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 26, 2008 at 6:56 AM  

I'm with Anon...I'd have just bought a new oven.

By Blogger Ben and Bennie, at November 26, 2008 at 7:40 AM  

Self-clean is the way to go. Seriously.

I did that oven cleaning dance only three times before I came to that conclusion. The bonus feature of the self-clean is that it heats your house when it's cold outside, so there's a two-for-one deal aspect to it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 26, 2008 at 9:41 AM  

There is no greater struggle than a person taller than 5'7" trying to clean an over. It's not even something you can sit cross-legged and do either, it's just uncomfortable. Luckily I have had self-cleaning for my last two places...

By Blogger Laura (lap), at November 26, 2008 at 11:32 AM  

I gotta add to the chorus: self-cleaning is the way to go.

By Blogger Bunny, at November 26, 2008 at 11:34 AM  

Agree on the self-cleaning. It's golden.

Your black gauntlets and apron remind me of potsink duty in the college cafeteria. Had to wear thick black rubber gloves up to the elbows and a thick black rubber apron because the water we used to clean the pots and pans was, literally, scalding. Dangerous work. Cool gear.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at November 27, 2008 at 9:52 AM  

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