Thursday, August 17, 2006

So I guess my oven is screwed

If you ever come over to my place, I would be happy to serve you dinner. I like to cook for people and when it comes to some foods, I think I'm pretty good at it too. However, if you come over, I can pretty much guarantee we will not be eating any thing that comes from the oven. Yes ma'am, stove top only at my place. No baked ziti, pizza pie or lasagna. No cakes, no pies, no cupcakes. No roast turkey, meatloaf or tuna casserole.
Here's why:
This wasn't always the case. I used to bake without fear or trepidation. But that all changed the other night when I attempted to broil a steak. I washed the steak and patted it dry with a towel. I prepared a marinade with wine and seasoning and let it set for 45 minutes. I preheated the oven to 350 degrees. I then set the oven to broil when I put the steak in. I then put it under the broiler with the intention of letting it cook on each side for seven to nine minutes. That's when everything went horribly, horribly wrong.
I immediately sat down on the couch and started watching the previous night's 'Late Night with Conan O'Brien' on DVR and in less than four minutes (I know it was less than four minutes, because the applause hadn't even died down enough for Conan to start his monologue), I saw some smoke coming from the kitchen. In the time it took me to get up and walk at 'OH SHIT' speed to the kitchen (a distance of about 15 feet), the entire apartment was filled, and I mean FILLED, with smoke. My eyes are stinging, tears are forming and I can't see the far wall across the room. Of course, by now the alarm is going off from the smoke detector ("Oh good, that works!") which adds to the charming atmosphere. I turn off the oven, turn on the overhead fan, pull the sizzling cinder beef out of the oven and make my way to where the smoke detector is mounted on the ceiling, hoping there's a reset, or 'all-clear' button that can be pushed to shut it off. The red button doesn't do anything. Neither does the green one. And now that I'm inches away from the screaming device, I can feel the high-pitched sound waves making every loose piece of my head rattle and throb. Being the cromag specimen that I am, I decide to pull the thing off it's mount and see if I can destroy the power source. Let's see, there's a red wire and a blue wire, just like a bomb in an action movie. Using the same logic I would use if I were in one of those movies, that being that no matter what wire gets cut, the problem is over one way or another, I yank on both wires, pulling them partially out and breaking the connection. The noise stops, which gives me a fleeting moment of satisfaction for being smarter and gutsier than Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis before turning back to what's left of my dinner.
Through the (very) slowly dissipating haze, I'm able to determine that the outer edge is burnt beyond recognition. It's solid black and flakes off into ashes when probed with a fork. Meanwhile, at the center just below the brown surface the meat is pink, slimy and cold (how in the hell is that even possible?!?). Ah, but the thin round ribbon between these two extremes is...perfect! What I have is an approximately 1" wide ring of delicious steak. Figuring the drama is basically over, I sit down to eat dinner. If concerned neighbors had heard the alarm and noticed any of the smoke seeping out, they would have been justified in calling the fire department. And if the fire department had showed up and knocked my door down with axes, they'd have been treated to the sight of me enveloped in a carcinogenic meat fog, contentedly eating a steak ring, watching a rerun of Conan O'Brien while a disemboweled smoke detector dangled harmlessly from the ceiling.
The best I can figure is that some steak juice somehow spilled onto the heating element or some hot surface or something. Because tonight I went to use it again, this time for Totino's Party Pizza (sooo good!) and smoke started pumping out again when it got hot. Not as bad this time, but it would have been if I hadn't been right there to stop it. I had used the oven before without incident so a good cleaning will probably solve the problem. The trouble with that solution is that when these problems happen, the oven is much too hot to clean and by the time it cools off enough, I will have eaten a bowl of cereal for dinner and moved on to other matters. Basically, George Bush has a better chance of getting re-elected that that oven does of ever getting cleaned.
Now, what boiled and/or fried entree would you like for dinner?

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