Tuesday, May 02, 2006

El Diablo - the Devil's Oven

What follows is not so much a story as a rant. And a sequel to the exploding fridge story.

With the last of my furniture assembled last night I decided to relax with a ready meal I had bought whilst out shopping for furniture, before retiring to the pub. Over the past few days I'd been relatively lax in important areas like eating, so I still have a completely empty fridge apart from this one ready meal. I decided this would give me an excellent chance to test out the new oven and reading the instructions prepared to put it in the oven for 40 minutes.

About 25 minutes in I realised I had accidentally put the oven on defrost mode, not proper fan assisted mod. The meal was still perched there on the shelf looking decidely frozen. So I switched to fan assisted cooking at about 180 degrees.

About 15 minutes later I was somewhat surprised by the fact my oven smelt of burning. I was also somewhat surprised when I opened the oven to see the melted plastic tray containing the ready meal. My sanity took somewhat of a turn when I stared at the heater element, all round, red and malevolent looking, much like the Eye of Sauron only more scary as it was very real, very tangible and the fan was blowing immense quantities of heat into my face. I began to wonder if the dirt on the oven I had cleaned two days ago was in fact the charred remains of the previous tenants who had made the mistake of doing a 2 hour pot-roast. What really worried me was when the aforementioned tray now caught fire, using the extra oxygen my witless self had just provided it with by opening the door.

After a manly session of fire-extinguishing (and wishing I had a key for the padlock on the window in the kitchen) I gingerly scooped up the charred remnants of my meal and assumed I had been witless enough to select grill instead of fan. After all, the two options look so alike (!). I certainly didn't have enough evidence to blame the oven... yet.

What followed was an inexplicable desire to repeat the experiment with the oven. Maybe burning my roast turkey dinner and setting it alight in under half the regulation cooking time awakened some primal instinct in me that had lay dormant since the dawn of time. Maybe it was male stubborness, a desire to conquer the oven, to bend the Eye of Sauron to my will. Maybe I was damn hungry and didn't want to eat even more takeaway food.

I don't really why I set out on May Bank Holiday, I just remember cursing my luck in looking for groceries on the day where all of England grinds to a halt, where society ceases to function for 24 hours. However I and my noble steed, the Stu Mobile opted out of the quest for the Holy Grail in favour of the more difficult quest for a replacement ready meal. My search, at 8pm, took me to the far off countries of King Asdas, who sadly was closed, to Lord Sainsburys, also closed. At this point my steed was tired and I was weary with hunger and exhaustion. The grail, no the ready meal, seemed far from my grasp until I realised with great excitement that Sainsbury's petrol depot was still open. I secured myself a truly appetising (and overpriced) vegetable lasagne and some other necessaries.

Returning to the laboratory I read the packaging and decided to put it in for 30 minutes at 150 degrees, instead of the suggested 200 degrees. Pre-heating the oven didn't seem to work, after 20 minutes the temperature gauge had still not clicked off. None the less I pressed on my experiment, for I felt my doctorate, nay my very life would be at stake if I did not.

Checking on it at 5 minutes I fought for my soul as I stared into the evil eye of what I named El Diablo, a name that comes to me unbidden in the night now. By willpower and wiping the sweat from my brow I pulled the oven shut before the overwhelming heat overcame me. At 15 minutes I was forced to remove the oven tray as the lasagne looked decidely overcooked. At this point the oven was worryingly warm to the touch on the outside.

I can only conclude, dear readers, that either my oven is possessed, or that the thermostat is bust. Other than that all is well. I shall be favouring my microwave for now.


Anonymous said...

Great story Stu! Hahaha.

Let's see - the first place had an exploding microwave, the second place had a haunted fridge, and now your oven is possessed by some form of demon.

I think you need to get an exorcist round.

Anonymous said...

For fan ovens, the general rule is reduce any suggested temperature by 20 degrees. Since this doesn't seem to work I'd suggested busted thermostat and a new cooker needed.

Stuart said...

Steve - I've called in an exorcist, or rather the landlord, so hopefully my days of blissfully cremating frozen foods will be at an end.

Also, it's an exploding fridge, not a microwave! Your disembellishing my story (is that a word? It is now).

Claudia - welcome to the blogsphere. Not to worry - I've always used fan-assisted and am (believe it or not) relatively kitchen savvy when the equipment provided works, I just wanted to milk a good long amusing tale out of this.

Generally though if you go by the book on a fan-assisted oven you end up with slightly crispy food, not creating a small fire in your kitchen and inhaling the lovely toxins from melted plastic.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, it was your Frigidaire that you blew up, not a microwave. There was some story behind the microwave too though wasn't there? Some creature crawled inside and died or something?

'Disembellish' does appear to be a word by the way. You can have 4 points if you can successfully use it in everyday conversation without raising any eyebrows.

Stuart said...

No, I'm saving my microwave hijinx for the final story next year - Meltdown.