The gloves are off!
It's always after something breaks that you start to really appreciate it's operational qualities! Such is the story with our electric wall oven recently. It decided to stop working a few weeks ago, after baking 4 years good service. We pretended the elves would visit and magically fix it in our sleep, but after a few days it became apparent this strategy wasn't going to work.
Decision time...we had the option to:
1. Repair it
2. Buy a new wall oven
3. Buy a compact bench oven for portability
We wanted to repair it, but weren't sure how much it would cost. After a few calls to local electricians who all said they didn't fix domestic ovens, it looked like we weren't going to find out either. Time to consider options two and three.
So we went looking and found new wall ovens were going to cost over $600 (AUD) for a basic model. Then we looked at small portable ovens perfect for caravans, but quickly realised they didn't have enough head height. There's no-way I was going to fit my high loaves in there. Oh for the love of a freshly baked sourdough loaf!!
Thankfully, we decided to use this oven-less time to look at new ways of cooking in the kitchen.
Multi tiered steamer and electric frying pan
We used our steamer/frying-pan to cook all but the carrots for one meal - sausages frying down the bottom, with broccoli and corn steaming above. I've probably never appreciated the value of this multi tiered frying pan until the oven died. It uses less electricity than cooking in the oven and stove-top at the same time. I even managed to steam a cake and although it was nice, it lacked the texture I love with oven baked cakes. So we discovered steaming cakes were probably left off the menu permanently, as I have to be wooed by my food in order to apply the effort.
As time rolled by though, we were beginning to miss all the goodies I use to bake. I even began to feel quite restless as my routine was out. I didn't realise how much kneading bread by hand gave me time to meditate. I was doing it automatically so I didn't notice it until my oven broke. I also realised how many plastic-wrapped, convenience foods were making it into the house again. Not take-away food, just more packets of bought cake, bread, biscuits and snack foods. We tried to make these snack foods as healthy as possible, like dried fruit and rice crackers - but after two weeks passed, we had totally fallen out of love with food.
Ironically, we found we were eating more of this processed stuff because we never felt full. I couldn't believe how we would eat everything we could and then stalk the pantry and fridge for more. I didn't want to cook with any kind of appliance any more, I didn't even want to open another packet of "whatever", my hands were mourning. We were so empty nothing satiated us any more, it was an awful, awful feeling.
Will I never taste the soft chewy goodness of home baked goodies again?
Thankfully, someone put us on to an electrical repair company which did make house calls to fix domestic ovens. At this point we were prepared to pay a small kings' ransom, just to get old faithful back in action! When we made the appointment I could feel the serotonin in my brain, popping with anticipation of baking again.
Three more days later and all our prayers had been answered!! It was only an element around the central fan which had blown. They put a new Electrolux element in (a brand with a good reputation) and will only cost between $160 and $180 when the bill arrives. The element itself cost $80 and the initial call out fee was that too, as we lived outside the main areas they serviced. I couldn't believe all that time without an oven and it only took 20 minutes to fix old faithful!
Sourdough back on the menu again!
Since our oven has been fixed, I've made bread, buns, lamingtons, casserole, chocolate sauce pudding, pumpkin pie and 2 batches of cookies. This food is real food, filling and delicious. My bread lives in a washable plastic container too, so no plastic bags going into the bin any more! Most of the goodies I bake are made with ingredients from paper packets or bottles which get recycled. Being as responsible as we can to reduce our waste, I think also adds to the satisfaction of how we view our food. It fills us with more than just calories.
So my kitchen works again, I feel my contentment flooding every time I open the oven door and fill the house with wofting smells of sheer bliss. Dave even said when he walks in the door from work, he gets a whiff of that good old home smell again. It says, I've come home to good food and a place at the family table to eat. Oh how I missed you oven - how we all missed you!
Back in action - the hearth of the house!
While summer is just around the corner, we may not need the oven for much longer, but I plan to bake as much as I can to freeze for later use. We also plan to work really hard to save for a wood stove/oven for next winter. It just makes so much sense. Why put an electric oven to work during winter, when a wood oven would cost less to operate and double with heating the house.
For anyone living in the Toowoomba area, should your domestic oven break and the union gets onto the elves to down tools, we used the services of, "Weeks Electrical". We were so pleased they could help us save another electrical appliance from becoming landfill.