16 November, 2008

Taking it for granted

About two years ago, my oven crapped out. Something to do with the "safety valve," which keeps the propane from flowing to the burner when the pilot or ignitor isn't working - only in this case, there was nothing wrong with the pilot. The stove was a sixty-year-old Magee with a space heater built into the side, and we had a hell of a time finding an affordable source of parts.

For two years, we sort of limped along without a full-sized working oven. We used a large toaster oven for some things, but in many cases I just learned workarounds - using my smoker or grill, for example, and did you know many beanpots will fit into a crockpot's heat housing if you take the ceramic insert off? So I could still make baked beans using that "mini-oven" setup - but still, it wasn't the same.

A couple of weeks back, though, we pretty much found what we were looking for. We were in Salem, CT on our way to Mystic Seaport when we noticed that Habitat for Humanity of Southeastern Connecticut had opened a ReStore on Route 85. Because I buy a lot of building supplies and hardware from the ReStore in Springfield MA I wanted to see what sort of stuff this Salem store had, so we pulled in to take a look.

As it happened, the Salem store sells appliances. And they had a beautiful two-year-old GE Profile gas stove - already set up for propane, used but in immaculate shape - on the showroom floor for less than $200. My friend Roger and I picked it up later that week, scrapped the old Magee, and installed the "new" GE, which works beautifully. Needless to say, we've been busy baking for the past couple of weeks; all the stuff it was difficult or impossible to do for the past two years: pies, popovers, cakes, baked apples, bread, cookies, roasted veggies, you name it. It's really great to have an oven again.

So here's what I want you to do: Go into your kitchen and look at your oven and remind yourself how great it is to have one. Bake some cookies, or a pan of brownies, or a tray of fishsticks - anything you like as long as it's something you really love to eat - and don't take your oven for granted.

Plugs and Links:

Habitat for Humanity does a lot of good in a lot of communities, and most local chapters are worthy of your support (some are less worthy than others - Charity Navigator can give you the details.) In addition to their work in actually building affordable housing around the country, many local Habitat chapters operate "ReStores" which sell donated and/or salvaged building materials, appliances, tools, and more to the general public. The ReStores in my area have made it very affordable for me to do a variety of projects around the house, including plumbing, electrical, appliances, construction, fencing, and more. The ReStore in New Britain CT sells discounted Stanley brand tools donated by the company.


Stephanie/Sproffee said...

But...but...I don't have an oven in China. :-(

In other happier news...I GOT YOUR PACKAGE!! Yay!

Yours is going out Tuesday during my lunch break. :-)

Michele said...

I've got a date with King Arthur this afternoon...so my oven and I will be spending some quality time together.

Mr. Dave said...

Your story made me remember a couple friends that I had down in New Paltz, NY (serious hippy country). They refused to pay to refill their propane and lived with only a toaster oven. One time my somewhat burned out buddy started a small fire by putting tacos in it still in their paper wrappers. When I asked him why the heck he did that, his only answer was "I forgot it wasn't just like a microwave." Still makes me laugh.