Archive for May, 2008

After fifteen years of great service, my GE double wall oven died a relatively quiet death. After a day or two of spontaneous beeping, we flipped the circuit breaker and took it off life support. The estimated cost of repair was higher than we thought reasonable and so we purchased a new oven.

We had to wait four weeks for the projected delivery and snafus delayed delivery and installation for another week. What was the worst part of the whole period? Right, no homemade bread. After a year of making bread four times a week, we were reduced to (horrors!) supermarket bread. We supplemented with two loaves of bakery bread to get us over the hump, but my husband especially, the big bread eater, was nearly despondent. The day the oven was installed, a new loaf was ready to bake and fill the house once more with that yeasty, pleasant bread aroma.

There were times when I didn’t use my old oven for a week or two (except for baking bread), but once it was out of commission, all I wanted was to bake, roast, or broil something. Anything. I craved baked potatoes, lasagna, meatloaf, roast chicken, bread (naturally), cake, brownies, casseroles – all things that don’t cook as well in a microwave or on the stovetop.

I became more creative with the gas grill, baking potatoes, roasting foil packets of garlic, spoiling a few things along the way. We basically only use the grill for cooking meat and roasting vegetables now and then. 

Finally, I have my new oven, top half conventional and convection, bottom conventional only. It has six shelves in each unit for a great many positioning options as well as the ability to bake on three cookie sheets at a time. I have yet to try the convection feature. I must do some research and will certainly write more her at Best Room in the House about my trials and errors. 

Go kiss your oven today and don’t take it for granted.

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I have a spiral bound notebook, about 9″ x 6″, known as the “Blue Book”. This “Blue Book” contains information on meals I have prepared beginning July 31, 1987. My purpose at that time was to keep track of meals, menus and recipes that I felt were worth keeping. Some pages contain merely a list of the dishes in a certain meal. If I deemed it necessary, I included the source of a recipe and details of any variation(s) from it. Sometimes I jotted down just the page number and title of the cookbook furnishing the recipe. Other times, I made notes such as “needs more sauce”, or “much too salty”, or “Heaven on earth!”

As my cookbook collection grew, some books had to be stored away from the kitchen.  It became necessary to make sure that the “keeper” recipes were kept together in one place so I would not have to search for a cookbook that was stored away. Sometimes, there were only a few recipes in a particular source that I would ever use. It made little sense to have those books occupy precious shelf space and they were discarded after copying the desired recipes. (This was back in the day when few people had home copiers or scanners.) 

So the “Blue Book” became the handwritten repository of my choice menu items and suggestions. Eventually, I used all the pages, every one of the 150 sheets, and I bought a new ” Blue” book –  not to be confused with the “Green Book”, a smaller spiral bound notebook, about 5″ x 6″, which contained only dessert recipes. The “Green Book” fell apart after 20 years and I painstakingly copied each recipe into a new “Green Book” and even carefully taped the old cover on top of the new cover. 

Thinking ahead, for once in my life, I bought two new books, figuring that they would last a long time. Because I already had a slew of recipes/menus in the Blue Book, I would most likely never fill up more than two more books. I filled up the first new notebook in two years and am halfway into the second. Of course the first one contains the best of the original blue one. 

I learned from experience, for once in my life. The new books are written in permanent ink. For the original I grabbed whatever pen was handy and consequently there are recipes where splashes of liquid have blurred the recipe. Hmmm…is that 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon, 1/4 cup or 1/2 cup? 

I swear if the house caught on fire, I would be sure to grab my cooking notebooks.

The entries are obviously in chronological order. If I remember preparing a chicken dish, for example, on Mothers’ Day, about five years ago, I can find it quickly  by date. I numbered the pages also and prepared a list of the recipes. This I taped to the inside cover of the notebook. 

It’s not a perfect system. A computer record would perhaps make the whole process easier, but I like writing them on paper, with a nice pen, easily taking the book(s) with me whenever I want to.

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