Hot Mess

Tamsen’s Review: An appliance is a tool to make life easier. But if it’s not the right tool, it makes everything worse… as detailed in this explosive post. 

ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ ꙓ

Michelle’s oven is resting.

There’s a lot to be said about the periodic cleaning of your oven.  One of the things that can be said is that you are a frequent user of that oven. The other thing is that you are seriously bored.  I am able to boast that I have cleaned my oven exactly twice.  Once before I sold my house in Houston and once, over a year later, after a strawberry pie overflowed and burned into a lumpy black thing on the floor of my current oven.

I am a frequent user of my oven, but I am also obsessed with prevention.  I place a sheet of aluminum foil on the floor of my oven like a condom which protects it from communicable diseases and unintended baked goods.  Spills are cleaned up with the crumbling of thin, sheeted metal. Unless something explodes in there, the walls and ceiling of my oven remain relatively unscathed.   Unfortunately, I forgot after the previous, well-contained spillage, to replace the preventive foil, leaving my oven floor at risk.

I felt vindicated when I read that commercially sold oven cleaning products will kill you.  Flat out poison, choke or introduce toxic chemicals into your body.  They should be banned from public use.  If you feel compelled to use them, read here.  Cleaning one’s oven should not require gloves, safety eyewear or a respirator.  You would be better off buying a new oven.  I thought about doing just that when my pie spilled its essence onto my relatively clean oven.

Kathryn’s oven is hot, hot, hot!

I inherited every oven I have ever owned and have had to live with someone else’s choice. My old oven, in my old life, in my former home was not so hard to clean.  Yes, it was!  It was a wall unit, placed at a convenient height for reaching in.  But it was deep, like a warm cave in there.  It was difficult to reach over the open door and contort my body in order to facilitate getting all the way to the back of the oven and making a scrubbing motion with my arm.  After a few feeble attempts, I simply chose never to clean it thereby avoiding chemical and physical injury. The foil strategy was adopted.  It got a good wiping out at the end of my tenure.

My current oven has had to be repaired for minor incidents like the handle falling off and the drawer beneath it, where I keep my baking sheets, falling out onto the floor.  My newest acquisition is a standard range with the oven below the cooktop.  This is less than ideal for baking, roasting and even worse for cleaning.  One has two choices, bend over or kneel on a hard kitchen floor.  Cursing optional.

Tracy’s oven is delightfully making rosemary rolls!

Chris’s oven is cooking feet

I chose kneeling like a supplicant to the gods of cleanliness to scrape up the recently acquired lump of coal super-glued to the floor of my oven. I had no qualms over smacking that shit around with a bench scraper for a while.  After an interminable amount of time spent scraping, I decided to apply a loosening agent (aka water) and let that mess sit for a while.   The stalactite (or is that a stalagmite?) would not be easily separated from its host. 

Upon my return to the scene of the grime, I once again applied mechanical means to sever its barnacle-like relationship with my oven.  I was afraid to spray any chemical-based products on it.  Who knows what Fantastik or even Mrs. Meyer’s would smell like after reaching baking temperature?  I had to firmly wedge my entire upper body into the oven in order to gain the mechanical advantage I needed to eradicate the enemy.  If someone entered the kitchen at this point, it would look like a pathetic quest to end of all my troubles.  It’s an electric oven.

Bobbie’s oven is a little shy

My knees, hips and back protested.  I persevered until that mess was scraped down to the enamel.  While I have been unable to find statistics documenting large numbers of incidents of bodily injury while cleaning an oven, I am sure many go unreported.  This conclusion is based on the continued popularity of an archaic design for the standard range.  The modern oven remains an ergonomic nightmare.  A redesign revolution is in order.

Carol’s oven is charming

A week later, as I was contemplating features which could be designed for the modern, lazy oven user, I placed a casserole dish of Ginger-Roasted Root Vegetables into my crappy oven at an imprecise 350 degrees.  As I turned to make the second part of my gourmet roasted menu, I heard a very loud explosion.  I turned in shock and gasped as a small plume of smoke drifted from the control panel.  My oven was dead.  I was instantly planning where to go to buy a new one.  There was no hesitation on my part at all.  I was finally going to be able to choose my oven.  Visions of side-opening doors and built-in thermometers danced in my head during this early night-before-Christmas scenario.

But of course, I have a husband.  A man who insists on practicality and good sense.  A man who talks me down from the emotional edge and brings me back to reality with annoying consistency.  I enjoyed my moment of orgasmic oven shopping for a bit longer before I called him up from the basement to assess the situation and call the appropriate repair person to rectify the problem at minimum cost.

Julia’s oven is busy experimenting

I confessed to him that it just so happened, I had been recently looking at kitchen appliances, spending hours in my research for this blog story about my relationship with ovens.  There is a company called BlueStar, which makes ovens for millionaires.  They are the best. They could make one that fit into the Hobbit House kitchen without any problem.   I had already requested an estimate for my dream oven.  It was $6,000.  This information was received with the same enthusiasm my mate might display if I wanted to buy a personal jet.

We (I) had decided that $300 was the threshold in repair costs that would determine fix or replace.  It cost $365.  We each made a case for our desired outcome.  He, being a former member of the fucking Harvard debate team, won out.  Compromise.  We would fix this one, be in a better position to take our time choosing another one and sell the old for cash toward the new.  I’m sure in his mind, this will never happen.  I’m sure in my mind it will. 

I have noodled around online, looking for the best oven we can afford and then added $365 to the cost so as to arrive at how much I will revengefully spend.  We will need to go to a store.  Sears, Home Depot, Best Buy, fancy, upscale kitchen appliance showroom.  Who know where the winds of home cooking will take us? 

In the meantime, Thanksgiving is coming and we have a working, though still sub-par, oven in which to create our feast.  Even I know it will taste just as good as if it had been roasted with rosemary in my new BlueStar $6,000 fantasy, foil-lined oven, which has been added to my lottery list, just above private jet.    

Keep cooking up big dreams,


PS: To those who have generously shared their ovens with me, thanks!

Guest Editor Tamsen is a thorough editor and really nice person.  She kindly accepted this story to edit when she really wanted the possum story.  We espouse the same oven philosophy.


  1. Two words….new oven…..self-cleaning.

  2. Yes! What Susan said! Self cleaning. Also maybe vinegar and baking soda may have loosened the stalagmite. Thanks for the smiles. Hope you have recovered from your latest contortions.

  3. I read the story with distress, not just because you are my friend and I want you to have a stress free relationship with your oven, but because I was anxious for a really happy ending as I am coming for Thanksgiving – looking forward to seeing you soon, enjoying your company and excellent cooking

    • All is well and I am happily using the repaired oven to make our holiday feast! We also have reservations this weekend for Plant!

  4. I recently (couple of years ago) replaced my oven with a brand new one. I still hate because it is electric. I have electric stovetops. I thought that most newer ovens had some sort of quick release that allowed you to take off the door for easier cleaning. I guess that will be my next research project. Our new house will have a restaurant stove with 6 propane burners and a griddle. It will have 2 ovens that will be electric because that is more efficient use of power. It is in that $5K to $6K price range and I don’t care!

  5. “Upon my return to the scene of the grime” … best phrase ever

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