my ode to an oven

my old friend mr. kenmore, may he rest in pieces
when we bought our house 9 years ago, there were many firsts.  it was my first home; i had always lived as a renter.  even as a child i lived in rentals.  the previous owners of this house, the original owners since they bought it when it was built in 1957, had left behind two non-working stoves.  their children must have taken any appliance still working so we had a list of firsts to buy:  washer, dryer, refrigerator and stove.  so we purchased our first stove.  
mr. kenmore was an inexpensive stove from the outlet store-he was cheap because he was dented and scratched.  we didn’t care, we needed a stove to feed the kids.  and now that we were homeowners, we were officially broke, as if the kids hadn’t already managed that, the house sure would.
in a perfect world, we would have installed something more fitting for a pair of professional chefs.  six burners and a double oven came to mind.  sleek and stainless and like the ones you see in all of the magazines-something professional, something that used gas.  but no, we had to go with what we could afford and dream of the day that we could replace it with something better.

and there he is in all of his former glory, poor mr. kenmore who is no more.  when i think back to all of the breakfasts, lunches and dinners he cooked.  that first thanksgiving dinner when it poured rain and our dreams of a trash can turkey in the back yard were soaked.  he came through, he cooked dinner.  i wrote two books using the oven nonstop and he came through, he baked the cakes and pies.  all of the cookies to give as christmas gifts, he came through.  so many pots of soup, he cooked them.  that time my mother taught me to make spaghetti sauce with meatballs the way my great-grandmother taught her, he came through, he splattered the sauce like a pro.  when i baked a pie each week for 52 weeks and blogged about it, he came through-but then, there was that time that the oven coil burned up and we had to replace it…but after a week or so, he was at it again.

but he did so much more than that.  he occasionally gave josie a warm place to sprawl out.  honestly, shouldn’t every cat sleep on top of a warm oven???  he told us the time, without fail, hour after hour.  he could also be quite the prankster.  that front burner that would be working just fine, and then it would not, so amusing at times.  and not at others…that little red light that would not turn off.  how many times did i stop and check to see that the burners were off?  you are so funny, mr. kenmore!  you got me again!!!

he could be kind.  for 9 years the little lady chef spoon rest had a home on this stove top.  she has taken a bit of a beating but he kept her safe and i am thankful.  she is irreplaceable since my grandmother gave her to me about 25 years ago.  back then, it was unusual to see a real woman in the role of chef much less a spoon rest in the shape of a woman chef.  i didn’t see the importance of her at the time, but years later, you will find tchotchke of a pig or a bear wearing a chef’s hat much quicker than you will find one featuring a woman.  somewhat odd since there are so many women holding the title of chef today.  anyway, she is precious to me in some strange way and i am grateful to still have her even if she is now completely homeless.

the last straw, that piece of tape.  how could tape be so definitive?  and not just by serving to remind us not to touch that knob!  the last time i used that back burner, the knob became a smoke stack spewing that smell that only burning electronics can emit.  in 9 years, we had the front burner rewired twice at a cost of more than what we paid for the oven initially.  add to that the cost of a new oven coil and light bulb and it was time to pull the plug, literally.

electric coils; why would anyone think cooking on these things is good idea?  for 9 years my husband and i argued over the fact that he could only seem to cook on this stove if he set the burners on incinerate.  and incinerate he did.  he burned more pans and food in pans than i can to remember.  he smoked up the house and started fires more often than i care to recall.  i have scrubbed more of the ceiling than i hope to ever do again.  those little burner trays below became graveyards for things daring to escape the holy hell of the pan my husband was attempting to crucify.

and no matter how hard i would scrub the top, the build up of carbon was always there.  always serving as a reminder that i hate to cook with electricity.

our crowded countertop meant that mr. kenmore had to endure the constant rub of the mesh strainer in the bucket next to him.  after time, it wore the paint off, built character some might say.

and now that he is gone, and i truly mean gone since the delivery crew took him out when they dropped off his replacement, i miss him.  miss him but not MISS HIM.   for all of the cups of tea, packs of ramen noodles and boxes of mac and cheese these coils made, i thank you mr. kenmore.  and for all of the pot holders you torched and grease fires you set, the fire department commends us for having a fire extinguisher.

honestly now, i’m a little hungry and can’t cook anything until the plumber comes.   yup, that’s right, the plumber.  you see, we have natural gas in the house.  the previous owners had the lines run in for the heating system and that unit is in the basement right below the kitchen.  all the plumber will have to do is run pipe up to the kitchen and connect the stove.  and what a stove it is.  it may not be a hand made  $40,000 work of art from le cornue, if only i could afford that.  it may not be an aga cooker or a professional model made for the home like a wolf range or a viking.  but it is a 5 burner range (almost made it to 6) with a cast iron grate that goes across the whole stove top with a double oven.  the top oven is a broiler and a warmer but can also be a baking oven and the bottom oven has a convection system.  for this baker, it is the equivalent of my very own amusement park right here at home.  the best part, it is all gas.  no more burned up pans-well not incinerated anyway.  yes, now i’m cooking with gas…

thanks for the memories mr. kenmore, may he rest in pieces

3 thoughts on “my ode to an oven

  1. Oh my dear friend, only you could write an ode to a stove that made me laugh out loud. My stove is not quite as fancy as your new one, but it is gas and it works quite well. Congratulations, you and the D-man deserve it!


  2. How wonderful….you’re getting a new stove…and it's gas!! Congratulations! I would love to cook on gas…we live rural and there are no gas lines out by me. Your story made me smile.


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