Choosing an oven, she's the one doing the stewing

janet's world

November 23, 2008|By Janet Gilbert | Janet Gilbert,Special to The Baltimore Sun

If I have to look at one more oven, I'm going to ask the salesperson to turn it on so I can stick my head in it and end this misery.

I'm pretty sure there was a time in America when consumers had only a mere 100 or so ovens to choose from. This was a nice, simple time when people could discover that their oven had broken, go out shopping the next day to select a new model, and have it delivered promptly the following afternoon.

This was also back in the day when brand loyalty existed. Chances are, you bought the car, socket wrench set, washing machine, mattress, dog breed and yes - oven - your parents owned. Maybe this was unsophisticated. Perhaps you didn't procure the best deal possible. But you were content because your choice wasn't questioned and, in fact, probably was praised around the dinner table that evening.

Today, not only do I have thousands of ovens to evaluate, but five to 10 mega-stores where I can purchase one. Next, there are myriad Internet sites on which I can search and compare prices until I give up and resort to the time-honored "one-potato, two-potato" selection method. And then, because I'm really not up to the job of installing an oven, I can go back to the retail outlets and negotiate with them to match the Internet price. It is possible I might never feel good about my purchase.

Hard as it may be to believe, the oven I have now is not even broken. This makes the shopping ordeal even more incongruous and frustrating.

I have a "built-in" unit of microwave and oven, slipped into a wall cabinet that measures 27 inches across. The microwave on top stopped working about three weeks ago.

I don't know about you, but when a microwave malfunctions, I don't mess around. I don't want to be irradiated while I warm up my coffee or pop some low-salt, no-butter, fat-free, taste-free corn. I don't want look like the correspondent from Janet's Underworld next week.

Unfortunately, the microwave/oven combo comes only as a unit. You can't simply pop a new microwave in to replace the broken one. On the upside, this is my opportunity to replace this unit with a double oven. On the downside, this presents me with double the decisions.

I am looking forward to the fact that new ovens have considerably larger interiors now. Fifteen years ago, I guess I was too naive to know that I should always go new-home shopping with a cookie sheet under one arm and a turkey roasting pan under the other. Who would imagine that these standard items wouldn't fit in my new home's oven? Surprise! But now I have 15 years' experience cooking in an oven that fits only a dollhouse turkey. It will be a pleasure to put more than one item into the oven, provided I can make a decision soon.

But I feel as if I'm a kid at the Christmas tree farm, and the perfect tree is always just over the hill. But this time, I'm wandering around in high-tech Oven Land. There are rows upon rows of stainless steel or black or white ones; they are thermal or convection; with roasting spits or warming drawers and digital controls or no-fuss knobs and automatic shut-off, turn-on and self-clean.

Last week, I gave up. When a salesperson asked me what I was looking for in an oven, I said, "head room."

In the meantime, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I've got a couple of ideas. I can still roast my turkey, but I wonder how long it takes to grill a pumpkin pie?

Send me your address. The Gilberts are coming for Thanksgiving.

To contact Janet or hear podcasts, visit http://www.janetgilbert.net.

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