Sunday, August 4, 2013

Meanwhile, in the kitchen....

I have worn out the beaters to my mixer. Oh, it's just a little sturdy hand mixer, but one that has carried me through 11 years of baking. I can't begin to count the number of eggs, syrups, custards, meringues, icings, and cakes I have whipped up with that mixer.

And now due to some colossal metal fatigue issue, one beater is on its last two tines.

I had noticed the first tine had failed some months ago. The second failure was brand new; I noticed it yesterday when I went to beat the eggs for the next round of zucchini bread.

Usually one wears out a mixer by burning up the motor. I wasn't that lucky.

The mixer model (a Black & Decker) is "obsolete," and replacement beaters are not to be found easily. or at all, I concluded after a thorough internet search. It is possible that other (newer) B & D beaters may fit this model, but unless I take my beater to a store and surreptitiously try the fit on a new mixer, I am rolling the dice in ordering beaters.

I may break down and treat myself to a brand new mixer. Heck, I may even splurge and go for the Kitchenaid hand mixer (the low end one, not the high end one) if only because I can get it in red (fire engine) or flamingo pink (loud).

How cool is the thought of making a lemon tart using a fire engine red or loud flamingo pink mixer?

I thought I was being clever when I posted the photos on my Facebook page yesterday and said there had to be a moral to this story. Apparently I was tempting the gods of Baking by my lighthearted approach. About the time I slid the second batch (four loaves to a batch) into the oven, I called Warren from the shop and asked him, "Do you smell something electrical?"

Yes, he did. And so did I. But there was no smoke, no lights going out, and nothing seemingly amiss, so he went back to work and I went on with cleanup while the bread baked.

The first two loaves (smaller) finished on time. Five minutes later the third loaf finished. But the fourth loaf (the largest of the batch) was taking forever. Truly forever. I would set the timer for 5 more minutes, check the loaf when the timer went off, and set it for 5 more. After some 15 minutes of this, I scrabbled around for an oven thermometer and stuck it in alongside the loaf. When the timer went off again, I checked the thermometer.

250º.  75 degrees cooler than the 325º that loaf should have been baking at. And that was when the terrible truth hit me. That little electrical smell from an hour ago? That was the smell of the baking element breathing its last.

A word about the oven. Warren's parents bought that oven around 1970 (by his best recollection). It is a 40" GE model with a small bake oven next to the regular oven. The stovetop has the conventional four burner arrangement, with extra workspace on top thanks to the width. In the almost five years I have lived in this house, I have baked hundreds of breads, cake, pies, quiches, tarts, and cookies, to name a few, in that oven. I have roasted chickens and turkeys galore. I have baked thousands of pieces of biscotti.

I love this oven. I would be bereft without this oven. And I was terrified that due to its age, parts would be impossible to procure.
The little oven is to the left in this photo. 

When I posted the newest disaster news on Facebook, friends quickly responded with links for parts. Three hours later, we had a new baking element ordered. In fact, we had two new baking elements ordered, the second being for the little side oven, which has not been available for baking all this time because of a faulty element.

The parts ship out tomorrow from Tennessee, so we should be up and operational by the end of the week. I am giddy at the thought of having two (Two!—Count 'em!—TWO!) ovens.

Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, "I cannot live without my books." My variation would be, "I cannot live without my books or my oven."

Fortunately, I don't have to live without either.

1 comment:

see you there! said...

My definition of hell would be no books to read. My oven comes in a pretty close second. Hope you get yours up and running soon.