Posted by: njbrown | March 26, 2010

The joy of a new stove


March 25, 2010

Cheese Soufflé

I did not expect to get a new stove.  The one that came with our house four years ago was light years ahead of the one I’d had for thirty-one years – gas, warming drawer, electric convention oven, etc.  However, in the way of so many modern appliances, its life was short.  Faced with a $500 repair to replace the control panel, or buying a new stove with a better reliability rating, we chose the new stove.  When you’re 67, you don’t buy a stove that will outlast the pyramids.  If we were wealthy and had a kitchen that would accommodate it, I would have loved a Viking, or a Garland or a Jenn-Air, but neither is true.  However, for a far more modest price, I now have a five-burner gas stove with grates that go all the way across the top – more “real estate” in my husband’s terms.  For the first time since 1973, I have a gas oven.  Back then you had to light them with a match, and it always frightened me.  Fortunately, this oven lights itself, and although the “whoosh” is intimidating, I’m sure I’ll get used to it.  The burners range from super-powerful, to very gentle, so I have a wider range of options.  The oven is enormous, 5.6 cubic feet.  (In a perfect world, I would have had two ovens as I used to, but life is not perfect.) For those rare times when I want to do a turkey and a number of other baked dishes, I’ll be able to.  It’s a shame Thanksgiving – even Canadian Thanksgiving – is so far away.

To try the oven, I decided to make a soufflé.  Laura Calder made one on her show today, and added herbs and other flavorings that Julia hadn’t had in her recipe.  (Laura was barely staying in her low-cut dress.  Why the Food Network thinks women want to see cleavage, I’ll never know!)  The soufflé was done in a little more than 20 minutes – far faster than ever before for me – and George pronounced it my all-time best.  Perhaps this weekend, I’ll try a cake.

In seeing pictures of Julia’s kitchens in Cambridge and France, it is very clear that her stoves didn’t have bells and whistles.  In the Cambridge house, she had two ovens, but they might have dated from the 40s.  Much of her cooking was even done before the invention of the food processor.  She was proof that you can create beautiful food without industrial stoves, granite counter tops, and stainless steel appliances. 

Nancy

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