Thursday, March 08, 2012

Roughing It - Part 1

It started over a month ago. My oven kept burning my cookies.

And taking two hours to cook my Special K Loaf. But mostly I was bummed out about the cookies.

See, I make really good chocolate chip cookies. Possibly the best chocolate chip cookies you've ever had. No, I don't have a big head and it doesn't need to be checked by a doctor. It's just... well, if you have never had my cookies you'll just have to drop by sometime and have one. And if you have, right now you're not even attempting to argue.

So, burnt cookies. As much as some (*cough* Dad) (*cough* Raini) love their cookies burnt, it was really bumming me out.

After a few batches of those and a few mishaps with raw K loaf and uncooked dinner rolls, it finally dawned on me that it was my oven that was not functioning, not me!

The top of the gas range still worked, though, so we took our time shopping around for a replacement and didn't try to use the oven (accept for that one frozen pizza incident). Let's just say craigslist is NOT the thriving hub in northern Michigan that it is in other parts of the country. And have you priced out new stoves recently?! No, thanks. Not if we could help it!

February 24:
Eventually we found an electric stove, used, but working. Okay, this will work in a pinch, I thought, so Colby brought it home, plugged it in, checked each burner to make sure it worked, and set me to cleaning it while he drove the old stove out to the scrap yard. (Don't you just love the finality of that little tidbit?)

After I scrubbed, I turned on the oven to 350 and went on my merry way of Friday afternoon cleaning and what not and thought I'd just try and see if the oven "felt" like it was getting to be the right temperature for baking.

15 minutes later I no longer cared if the oven was a perfectly well functioning appliance!

The house was filled with a stench that had us all choking, coughing, gagging, and BEGGING for mercy from the horrid monster of a stove-thing that sat stinking up our kitchen! We couldn't get it turned off and cooled off fast enough! The windows and doors stood open while the snow fell outside, the children all looked bewildered as they pinched their noses, and I was ready to sit down and burst into tears. Except... not anywhere near that stove.

Why the stench?, you ask. Well, if you've ever had the fortitude to live in a REALLY old house, you come to terms with the draftiness, the crumbling plaster, the dust bunnies on steroids... and mice. Usually the mice come in from any number of avenues beneath the house, rather than be imported via used kitchen appliances. But yes, once you have smelled the distinct smell of mouse, you'll recognize it anywhere.

I have another lovely mouse story to regale you with later. After I finish this stuff with the stove and the stuff about the storm. Don't let me forget.

So yes, back to the stinking house. The best we could do at the moment was to leave the windows open and flee to the hills. Or just to the grocery store, to stock up on lots of no-prep junk like crackers, bagels, and boxed cereal? Yes, even boxed cold cereal. Previous to this, it had been MONTHS since I'd bought a box of cold cereal! Dude, that stuff's expensive when you have a family that eats a whole box in one meal!

Seriously, I wandered aimlessly around the store trying to come up with ideas of what to fix for meals that didn't consist of the usual from-scratch ingredients I am used to on our frugal budget.

At least I still have my crock pot
, I sighed as I checked out.

At home the house was livable again, cold, but livable. Colby took the stove apart looking for the source of the smell and found it deep down inside the insulation around the oven... a mouse nest. Good enough. Schwoop! The stove went back out the way it came in and left me with a hole in my kitchen.

Just in time for Sabbath.

That week we looked high and low for another replacement stove that didn't cost an arm and a leg. In other words, we wanted to find a used one in good condition (i.e. without passengers to bring with it). Felt grateful to find one for just $100 on craigslist, spoke with the seller, made arrangements to pick it up on Friday.

Thursday night he called and said he sold it.

All during this time I'd been cooking with my crock pot and in pots sitting on top of the (really old) wood stove. Ahhh, it's been a good old stove, but really, it's very, very old cast iron and it's cracking. I can see an orange glow in the crack across the top. Uh, maybe I shouldn't admit that where my mother can read it! We are planning to replace the stove this year before fall hearth-fire season starts up again. (so if anyone sees a good deal...)

Colby hung up the phone from that disappointing phone call and told me the stove was gone. I looked at him a good long while with my chin wrinkled up and my lips pursed to keep from busting into tears, then turned and started walking determinedly toward the door.

"Hey, where are you going?", he asked the back of my head.

"If I have to WALK to Interlochen TONIGHT, I'm going to give that guy a piece of my mind!", I tossed back over my shoulder.

He got up and bodily blocked my way to the door, put his arms around me, and reminded me that God doesn't make mistakes.

"There is a REASON God didn't want us to waste our time and gas to go over there and buy THAT stove. I promise."

I sniffed away a few tears, but still went to bed feeling really bummed that the next day we'd be going into town and spending a bit more than $100 to buy a new stove. And still wanting to give that guy a piece of my mind. 'Cause, seriously, WHO DOES THAT? Who sells a stove out from under a woman who has been without a stove for a WEEK? Doesn't he know how inconsiderate that is?!


March 2:

The next morning we piled in the truck and shot over to town to find a stove. Well, first we had breakfast at Bob Evans. Then we shopped for a stove. First things first, you know, hot breakfast and all that.

So, we shopped around and coming up short we headed to a big box store.

"I'm looking for a gas range." Colby told the attendant in the stove department.

"We have this and this and this model here and ...", the attendant pointed out as they walked the floor model aisle.

"No, I'm looking for a simple gas stove, non electric.", Colby specified.

*Sniff*, said the attendant, with a completely puzzled look on his face. "These ARE gas stoves, the electric ones are over there..."

"I'm looking for one that doesn't need any electricity to run, no electric light, no clock, no plug-in."

"Like.... for a hunting cabin? That kind of stove?", said the bewildered attendant.

"Yes," Colby answered, "for a cabin."

So, once we established that we live in a rustic cabin, it was smooth sailing from there. Apparently that was the magic words, and off they went to the "cabin stove" aisle and found what we were looking for.

Our shiny new stove all loaded up, we headed home that Friday afternoon, excited to be able to cook in a somewhat normal fashion and maybe even get some bread rolls baked before Sabbath.

Or not.

At home, with all the lovely connections and testing processes and what-nots associated with installing a new stove, Colby discovered that the big-box store had neglected to include one tiny little thing: the propane conversion kit (which was included in the price we paid).

Once again, no stove in time for a nice Sabbath meal. No time to run all the way back to retrieve the missing parts. No alternative but to just wait until Sunday.

And then it began to snow...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey!!! Where is the rest of the story!!! I want more!!! Did you finally get it working? Does it do what you need it to do??? Are cookies being baked even as we speak??? Don't leave us hanging!!!!


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