It rained on the January day we closed the deal, buying this rambling old house on the Cutoff. We finished packing and cleaning up our old house during a snowfall, then moved in on a Saturday. Remarkably, moving in day brought just enough warmth to melt most of the snow and allowed us and the movers to haul all our possessions without trudging through sludge and slosh and snow. It was nine years ago now. Funny how time goes by in a whisper.
My friend Sue helped us move in, bringing a big container of chocolate chip cookies along. She unpacked boxes in our big kitchen, and started putting pots and pans in cabinets, silverware in just the right drawer, and the cheerful Brown Eyed Susan dishes I inherited from Tom’s mother in the glassed in cabinet across from the sink, which is where they still rest when not in use. In fact, I have not moved anything from where Sue put it.
I had packed food from the freezer into a few big ice chests, thinking about what I might make for dinner in the new house on our first night. So, out came some chicken, a can of tomato paste, a bag of square Greek noodles and a big pot to make some Greek chicken stew; a simple dish with a distinct aroma that ushered one home into another as it bubbled in our homey kitchen.
The stove was big and functional. We decided not to replace it. It was certainly used, but, serviceable, although one of the knobs looked just a bit distorted. I wondered about it as I turned on a burner and made that first meal, but, I knew the stove had been used to feed the very large family of the precious owners
As the years wore on, I discovered what had happened to the knob. It seemed that every-so-often the oven door wouldn’t quite close, except if I had a cake in the oven, which was when it would not quite open. A little squirt of cooking spray seemed to do the trick when it wouldn’t open, and I learned to check the door to see how it hinged before putting in a cake – or turkey. One or two squirts meant a door that opened easily. It also meant a door that didn’t quite close.
As the years wore on, the knobs on the stove slowly morphed into peculiar shapes. Cooking heat was escaping the oven with increasing regularity. I could only hazard a guess at where 350° was – only because it was where the knob was most deformed. Then, with a very hot oven near the holidays, I burnt my fingertips turning on a burner forgetting the oven door was ajar.
The time had most definitely come to replace the stove, commencing with appliance shopping that brought about memories of stoves in lifetimes past earlier this month. This shopping was done in between snowstorms, a purchase made and a date for delivery was set, and then reset because of dangerous weather conditions. These frigid temperatures have wreaked havoc on so many activities, including deliveries of all sorts of things.
Finally, on a Saturday, when much of the snow had melted and delivery men could travel safely, our new stove arrived, complete with an oven door that opens, and closes properly, knobs that are well-marked and don’t resemble wontons, and a myriad of other culinary uses that I didn’t even know I missed – until I had them back.
As the temperatures and snow continued to batter our area, I have been as content as a pig on the 4th of July, baking and cooking with my efficient new stove, including a batch of chocolate chip cookies, which I made this afternoon, thinking of my friend Sue and her help on that moving day, nine years ago.
What have you been cooking or baking lately? Have you ever had a stove that had seen better days?