high temperatures, small woes ... first world problems

take a look at the header - all those people cooking and not one oven!

But for the obviously well-trained staff, this could be my house. Why? Because I too have no oven!

The oven in our stove at Flintstone Manor is on strike, for no reason other than sheer cussedness, as best I can tell. I use it a lot during the summer, it's exceptionally large and well-insulated and doesn't heat up the rest of the house. I've always found washing and drying lettuces, washing, peeling and trimming and cutting up other veg, poaching, peeling and chilling shrimp, scrubbing clams, etc etc, to be a LOT more tedious and a lot more work than sticking a roast or some chicken in the oven, putting some potatoes and onions around the meat/bird, closing the oven and sitting down with a drink. Shortcut: I buy very good meat or chicken and watch the cooking time carefully, so I don't feel a need to brine or marinate. Oh, sure, we could grill, but it's been very hot, or very rainy, or both. And allow me to point out that most things that need to simmer, including stews and soups and tomato sauce, do astoundingly better on the lowest rack of a low oven than on a stove-top burner or in an outdoor jury-rigged Webster kettle.

So what happened to my oven? The door won't open! Why not? It's not a self-cleaning oven, so there's no locked-timer-problem, so what could it be?

Well, Trusty Mr Google tells me that since 2010 or so, this has been happening all too often (meaning once, if it happens to be your stove) to stoves of this brand. On some models, only the hinge assembly needs replacing. On older models - like mine - the whole door has to be replaced, and the company has to build you a new door, because these stoves are built one at a time. When we were looking for a stove for Flintstone Manor, we kept reminding ourselves of all the people we knew who had to wait months for parts or repairs of kitchen equipment made in England or France or Germany or Italy... So we insisted - just in case, not looking for trouble - that the way to go was to find something that was manufactured right here in the USA. We chose BlueStar, its factory is or then was in Pennsylvania. They began by making only restaurant or commercial equipment, then added a residential line. I liked them because I need to have a gas stove. Unfortunately, the local gas company has not extended the gas lines to our street. This means bottle gas, which can't achieve the BTUs (heat) that you get from natural gas. And this in turn affects cooking. The reason has nothing to do with the quality of the gas; rather, most gas stoves are made for natural gas and to cook with bottled gas the stove has to have an adaptor fitted, which is essentially a flow restrictor. Less gas, less heat. BUT - enter BlueStar. Because each of their stoves is made individually, the stove can be made for bottled gas from the get-go. And for some reason, this allows a heavier flow. More gas, more heat. So - worth waiting for, worth fixing. But oh, what a test of patience.

Guess what?  It is not comforting to tell oneself that instead of a 3-4 week wait, we could be looking at months or years.  I knew someone who would stand outside the Smallbone UK storefront on Lexington Avenue (New York City) every night when he was coming home from work, and curse.
view of East 65th Street and Lexington Avenue, NYC
(cursing Renovator Guy is not in this picture)
This was a white guy who went to and from work in a suit, and he would be dropped off by his driver, who would wait while Angry Kitchen Renovating Guy stood on the sidewalk and ranted, escalating his blasphemous rhetoric from the screws and nails made to UK specs and unavailable in the US, to the entire royal family. His repertory lent new meaning to the name of the offending manufacturer.

When I said I knew him, I didn't mean know him socially or in business. I know him the way one knows the 30-ish guy on the pad of old newspapers at the subway entrance who claims to have served in Vietnam before he was born - after a while you recognize the guy but you don't want a conversation.

On the other hand, having lived through (barely) 4 kitchen renos, 9 bathroom renos, and - wait for it - the 3-attempt over 3 months misdelivery of a washer and dryer from BestBuy (ultimately cancelled, by me, and no doubt to the benefit of some lady in Manhattan Kansas who must have really really clean clothes at BestBuy's expense but not mine dammit), that experience was followed by a washer & dryer delivery-installation from Home Depot where the electrics were plugged into an indoor-outdoor extension cord "just as a test, lady" and then when the machines were wedged into their tiny niche, the test extension cord was still attached oops so the machines only worked when connected  by extension to the plugs across the room - and there then ensued a bitter and lasting triangular war among me, Home Depot and their independent delivery-install people who claimed I was only entitled to one installation no matter how botched, the same being further complicated by the 3-way absence of a common language. Angry Kitchen Renovating Guy may be saner than I. Well, probably most people are. Was this paragraph garbled? you bet. So is my life when I have to deal with projects that involve major appliances.

So now I await a call from the BlueStar Authorized Service Person about the arrival of my oven door, and when it's actually delivered, the BlueStar Authorized Service Person and I will plan to meet. I tremble, and meanwhile Panera is getting a lot of business from us.
Speaking of oven recipes, here is a recipe I've been making for a long time, except of course not this summer. Versions of the recipe crop up on food-ish sites regularly. If you happen to have an oven you might want to try it.
You need enough chicken pieces and potatoes to serve your group.  I use skin-on breasts and thighs, and I bone out the ribs from the breast pieces. Lately I've been using Yukon gold potatoes, but I like Idaho russets for this as well. Peel the potatoes and cut into thick half-slices or into wedges - long thick french-fries. Then, in a large bowl, mix a scant 1/4 cup olive oil with a heavy teaspoon of hot sauce and some paprika. I use Crystal Hot Sauce, I've seen recipes of this dish that call for Harissa, which is quite ok. As is Srichacha.  A little smoked paprika is nice, not essential.  Add salt and pepper.  Put the chicken and potatoes into the bowl and toss to combine. Cover and leave at room temperature for 30 minutes while you get the rest organized.

Making sure the oven is empty, turn it on to 425ยบ. Find a large flat pan with low sides, or the broiler pan that came with the oven.

Next ingredient - two medium leeks, washed and sliced very thin. Use all of the white and some of the green. Toss the leek slices with 2 tablespoons of olive oil mixed with a teaspoon of lemon juice and a little salt. 

Assembly - put the chicken pieces and the potatoes on the pan. I start with the chicken skin-side down. Also, you'll have to turn the potatoes over in a few minutes, so you'll want them all toward the edges of the pan. Then - into the oven. In about 15 minutes or so, take the pan out, turn over the chicken, turn the potatoes, if things look unappetizingly pale, lightly sprinkle whatever with paprika. Scatter the sliced leeks over everything. Back it goes into the oven, for another 25 minutes or so.

And while that's cooking, add a few tablespoons of finely chopped fresh dill and some finely chopped or grated garlic to a cup of plain yogurt and stir well.

Also hunt up a few cups of baby arugula.

When the chicken's done, remove the pan from the oven. I put the pan right on the table, well, not right on it, I use quilted pads, but, you know. If you're uncomfortable with putting the pan on the table, move everything to a platter but don't dawdle. OK, so chicken's out of the oven, use a metal spatula to make sure everything can be separated from the pan, scatter the arugula over the food, drizzle with the yogurt sauce. You might consider sprinkling on a little lemon juice.

That's it.

Oh, if you've followed the blog for a while, you may have noticed that I change the header from time to time, so in case it's no longer in the header, this is the pic of oven-less cooking that I was talking about above.

Look! staff.


  1. We have a gas stove that runs on propane too, my husband did the modification so it could burn propane and I've never had a problem with having to cook at a higher temperature or for longer.

    1. Hi, MnJ, we may have overthought the whole stove thing altogether. When we redid the kitchen we had a peculiar budget, which included items like "upgrade the cabinets but not by a lot" and "replace peculiar storage closet with pullout pantries" and "get real ventilation! Real real real!" When we bought the house there was an electric stove. I swear I could hear evil chuckles when I got near it with a pot in my hand. I still have some scars. And I love cooking with gas. So I consulted with the gas company we use for the pool heater. They had a lot of opinions. A lot. Reasoning that the pool heater had always worked well and that it is nota good idea to argue with patriots who can blow up your house, we took their advice about gas flow and made in USA.

      The door defect isn't related to gas flow, but to hinge design, and I learned this morning that it will take 4 weeks for them to fabricate and deliver a new door.

      Envying you your handy husband and his tool kit, I'm married to a guy who
      actually once rented a hacksaw.

  2. Wondering why an oven door would suddenly just not open, what a strange defect! I'd be lost without my oven, like you I very much appreciate being able to shove meat and veg all in one pot in the oven while I sit and visit with a friend or watch the news, with a cocktail of course. Summer does not mean I use my oven any less. We have a bbq but I detest the thing. I don't even "know" how to turn it on, well that's my excuse though I'm sure I could figure it out.
    That recipe looks so very good! I'm just on my way out grocery shopping and planning to cook it up tonight. Thank you!
    Hoping you get the call soon regarding your oven door, and that it fits, and can be attached etc etc. XO

    1. Hi, Dani, I think I've learned that there's a lot to be said for mass production. Looks like a long wait.

      It occurred to me that one of the more formal versions of the recipe might be helpful, apparently the dish Is also known as Sheet Pan Chicken, and here's a link


      The comments to the recipe are fun, too,. When I made this for 3 people, I used a good sized chicken breast, cut in half, and 4 good sized thighs. Also a few extra potatoes. It was nicely enough.

  3. How frustrating - an oven door that won't open. Sounds like it's on strike for the summer, telling you to get chopping and barbecuing instead.
    Hope you have a new door soon, though it doesn't sound likely ☹️

    1. Hi, Trish, thanks - I've decided it's a Message from Above (imitating serious voice): this is the summer of your laziness. Sit down. Read. Gawp at the tv news. Lower a few.

  4. Oh the pain Fred!! That's the biggest thing for me with appliances - after service, and how reliable the company is known to be. Australian and US kitchen design/ appliances are a little different (we are more european in style), but pretty much no one cooks with gas for their oven here - all electric, but the cooktop may be gas. After my first experience with a top of range German made brand (miele), I swore off them - the oven interior flaked within 2 months and the part had to be flown out from Germany, oven taken away to be rebuilt and tested - took 8 weeks. Then when it returned the fan sounded like a truck was parked with its engine running in the kitchen. Company claimed fault was with my cupboards not being level (?! Brand new kitchen...) and not with the idiot that had rebuilt the oven. Oven had hot spots, and all the cupcakes would rise leaning to different sides which was very displeasing to OCD me. I couldn't wait to get rid of the thing. This was 12 years ago, and I"m still scarred!! Like the look of the recipe and hope the new oven door arrives speedily.

    1. Heidi, what a nightmare! In the city, the cooktop is 6 burners + grill (gas), and the wall ovens are electric. At the beach, however, the Great Plan was to keep things simple. Huh.

      It's a pity I didn't have an iPhone during the heyday of Cursing Kitchen Renovator Guy in Suit, he and his limo and his patient driver were quite a sight. I could have posted a clever video. Oh well, as my mom used to say, "what you see when you haven't got a gun...."

  5. Hi WFF!
    I sent your recipe to a friend who loves to cook- that is my kitchen secret:)
    So sorry to hear about your oven. I detest appliance repairs. My sister put 2nd dishwasher in her kitchen. Happy with the first, she bought the same European model for the 2nd. After a month of use, she had to have the repairman come- multiple times. She finally asked him why they didn't just replace it. She was told that she was better off keeping the one she had, because it had been opened and repaired so many times, he knew it would work. Madness.
    Anyway, I am reading this as my husband is at Home Depot, frantically trying to get what ever copper cap will keep the water from pouring out of the back of my refrigerator like a fire hose. I feel your pain.

    1. Wow, there's obviously something wrong with the universe - the icemaker in our fridge in the city stopped working. The problem is in the water supply, it isn't getting any. Obviously this is because it's all going to you.

      Recommend checking the Link above for a version of the recipe, I find the proportions given to sound a little off, as did a number of the commenters,but the picture gives a nice idea of what the finished product should look like.

  6. In east Asia, they just don't use ovens so I grew up thinking of oven as storage. I now use it every day of course and as I don't own a microwave I have to use it to warm things up. I once had one of those steam injection ovens which was a nightmare in London with heavy limescale so the steam thingy got clogged all the time. I have had my oven for a decade now and I keep it simple. IN the UK it is mostly electric fan ovens with gas stove. I think it so ironic that we think we have come a long way but in the end waiting for parts and builders equal out to Victorian women setting aside one full day every week to do laundry by hand.

    1. Hi, Naomi, I chuckled when I read your post - just finished de-liming the coffee maker!

      I thought it was a great step forward toward a better world when the tv company and repairmen and delivery services and the like started giving a "window" of arrival time, and around here the guy (it's always a guy) calls on his mobile and announces that he's 10 minutes away. I actually had one guy announce THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. On his phone. From the driveway.

  7. We've been considering a BlueStar so I'll await the conclusion of your tale to see how we go on this one! We have an electric monstrosity that won't even warm things properly. Time to go!

    1. Hi, Jen, well, we're still waiting. Our stove is maybe 6 or 7 years old, and it is a very basic model. The oven doesn't even have a window, and isn't self cleaning. No timers. We thought that since we were buying for the weekend house we wanted to eliminate as many possible things that go wrong as we could.

      As to cooking performance, have been very pleased.


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