There I am, searching for images of a stove on WikiCommons, and what do I find? A picture of poet Carl Sandburg’s kitchen! That’s how Carl Sandburg’s kitchen looked in 1950! No wonder he was such a gifted, successful poet. All that white cabinetry and a big tub of Crisco. His life was a poem.
I have a problem. I don’t want to use strong language. My mother told us girls that we could never tell someone to “shut up” and saying you “hate” something — definitely saying you hate someone — is to be avoided at all costs. So I’ve been resisting. I’ve been taking deep breaths. But it’s hopeless: I hate my stove.
My master bathroom and kitchen renovations were complete almost two years ago, but I didn’t have much time to be with it all before I did the One Year New York City Experiment. I know, it was insane to leave my home after enduring those Chicago construction guys in my home for nine months, insane to leave the gorgeousness that was not cheap and sparkly new. But apparently, this is how I do things. I’m as perplexed as you are.
But I’m home. And I’m all up in my kitchen. And this stove is killing me. There are a number of issues.
1. The oven takes forever to get to temperature. It’s so slow, I continue to think there must be something wrong with it.
2. It’s an electric range with a glass top. I do not like electric ranges, but my building doesn’t allow gas ranges. I can’t talk about it. Aside from being an inferior way to apply heat to pans, a glass top electric stove is impossible to keep clean. Am I missing something? Every drop of water shows up. And it’s not safe! Dangit, I’m a reasonably intelligent person but if I turn a stove off and come back to it ten minutes later and do not see fire, yes, I am likely to put something on the stove because I need the space. If I have no visual cue that there is still heat coming from the surface except for an anemic little dot of light that says “HOT,” I’m in trouble! Thanks, dude. My paring knife just about melted, but I guess that’s my fault because you whispered “HOT” when I came into the kitchen just now.
3. There’s a dial you have to turn to choose your oven setting. It’s a loose dial. If you go too fast, you blaze past BAKE to CONVECTION BAKE to WARMING OVEN to BROIL to CLEAN and all you want is to pre-heat for a batch of cinnamon rolls and now the thing is beeping at you to make a decision for heaven’s sake.
4. Too steamy.
5. If you press a button on the panel twice in a row before it resets or whatever, it goes “Beeeeeeeep. Beeeeeeeeep. Do you hear me beeeeeeeeep.” And it’s like, chill. Chill, oven. Except wait. I have a better idea. How about you don’t chill but actually allow me to get to 375-degrees sometime this decade? That’s a much better idea.
Gritting your teeth 70% of the time you engage with your stove not a tragedy. But there is a certain discontent that comes when you buy a big-ticket item and realize you may have made a mistake. I haven’t had a car since college, but I imagine discovering you hate the car you just bought is similarly rough. It’s buyer’s remorse of a legit kind: this isn’t a blue fox fur bolero you bought while vacationing in Sedona — this is one of the largest things you own and you actually need it. And you’ll probably own it for a long time. You’ll have to clean it for a long time. It looks at you. You look at it. For years.
I have not yet told my stove to shut up. There is bread in the oven as I write this. Bill Withers said, “We can make it if we try” and no one in the history of the world has ever had buyer’s remorse where Bill Withers is concerned.