Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ha, Ha stupid oven! Or how I managed to make Thanksgiving dinner this year

I hope you have all had a delightful Thanksgiving day!

Eventually we did too...though the potential for not having a pleasant and tasty meal was hanging in the balance for the last 36 hours.

I hesitate to chronicle Thankgiving 2009 at our house, 'cause I've read many a blog with appliance rants, but I might as well go ahead.

We moved into this house 16 years ago and worked hard to finish remodeling the kitchen so we could invite friends from upstate NY to join us for our first Thanksgiving back on the East Coast. The new GE range arrived in November. I planned a sort of southwest menu, did the grocery shopping, cleaned and organized our small house. Masses of turkey enchiladas were readied, as our upstate guests were making their way across the bridges from the Bronx.

Our guests arrived with their dishes, fortunately, because the enchiladas never cooked in the erratic GE oven. (Did I mention it was a GE?) We celebrated with the dishes that didn't need the oven. A memorable, though embarrassing holiday. This was the start of the era of unreliable oven karma.

Fast forward to 2003. I'm working part-time at Williams Sonoma surrounded by upscale cookware which causes me to dream of a professional stove with a grand price tag. Days before Thanksgiving, the GE range, the replacement for the earlier unwilling GE model, dies. There's not enough time to purchase a range (in or out of our price range) and get it before Thanksgiving. Chalk up another turkey day meal thwarted by GE.

I decide or am dazzled by a Kitchenaid Superba model, which once installed looked more like the front end of a Ford Explorer---huge, black enamel and stainless steel. The imposing Ford Explorer impersonator Kitchenaid range has not functioned in a dazzling manner and has required regular visits from the appliance repair guy since it's arrival. Last December unreliable oven karma, predictably sets in a few days before Christmas with no possibility of repair until after the holiday. Christmas baking was foiled as well as a traditional oven roasted Christmas dinner.

This year I took a peremptory approach to the problem and had the appliance repair guy come to replace the broiler ignition just before Halloween. But this was not enough to stop the holiday tradition of not having a working oven. Oh no!

Unaware of impending doom, I went ahead and did my planning and my shopping over the last week, confident that my Halloween trick was the solution. All systems were GO, right? Small turkey dinner for two, not a problem, until Tuesday evening.

It goes like this, you turn the oven on, it reaches temperature, you put the fish in, you turn on the front burner of the stove and an indicator thingie buzzes? The clock goes off and an error code is displayed on the control panel. No amount of touching or pounding the display panel changes the display. (Did I mention this is a Kitchenaid?) The oven has shut down and doesn't intend to come back on. I whispered to the oven in an unthanksgivingly manner "I hate you".

Googling the error code reveals it's either the control panel or the bake assembly ignition which I replaced last Christmas. The Kitchenaid helpline operator tells me the warranty is up on the control panel. Thank you very much. Wednesday morning I call the repair guy and he confirms its an expensive control panel issue. I've had it with this range, it is dead to me. But my plans for Thanksgiving aren't.

Plan B. What a surprise! There are no roaster ovens available on the shelves of local retailers on Thanksgiving eve. OK, OK let's not panic. This stinkin' appliance (did I mention it's a Kitchenaid Superba?) is not going to ruin the $30, 12 pound, butterflied Bell & Evans turkey in my refrigerator.

Ah ha! Plan C. It can all be braised in some assembly of my Le Creuset cookware on top of the stove! I made my adjustments to the ingredients and proceeded to make a Thanksgiving dinner. Though we had to eliminate a few (most) of the usual side dishes and baked items, the braised turkey breast was delicious! Ha, ha stupid oven!

We will be shopping for a replacement in the next few days. Hopefully there's a model of some kind out there that can overcome unreliable oven karma. I have no idea what oven I mistreated to deserve this, but what are the chances.....