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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oven Lovin'

by Anna Campbell

Are you a baker?

I am!

Even more, I'm a carnivore from way back. I grew up in a farming family and farming families tend to go heavy on the protein because of all the hard physical work involved in running the property. And meat loves being roasted in an oven. All that dripping, roasty goodness? YUM!

As a consequence, I've always made great use of the ovens in the houses I've lived in. I've seen rental properties where it's clear nobody has ever touched the oven since it was installed. That would not be moi!

Nothing beats a roast chicken or a leg of lamb. And what says 'home' more loudly (or more fragrantly) than a casserole? And I love to bake treats as well. Especially biscuits and desserts. For some reason, I've never had great luck with cakes. I find doing a big tray of deliciousness in the oven is a great stress-beater and it gives you pretty instant gratification unlike other activities like, you know, WRITING! Not only that, baking makes you popular when you share the goodness around.

So you can imagine my horror six months ago, when in the middle of baking a chicken for my birthday dinner, my oven died. Picture shrieking and tearing of hair and running around like a loon! It wasn't pretty! But then nor was half-raw chicken, sadly.

A couple of weeks ago, some lovely men with hammers and screwdrivers installed a brand-new oven in my kitchen. It turns out ovens have changed size in the 20 years since the last one went in so there was cabinetry involved as well as electrical know-how. But I am now the proud possessor of a lovely oven and a half. Watch out, neighbors! You are about to be barraged with biscuits (or cookies for my American friends).

And, Oven, welcome to my house. I promise to love and care and treat you with respect... Ah, who am I kidding? I'm going to work this baby into the ground. Now where's that potato peeler? I can feel a roasty coming on!

So are you a carnivore? A baking fiend? Just a fiend, perhaps? What's your favorite thing to cook? Where do you do most of your cooking?

41 comments:

Keziah Hill said...

Looks very swish. I have a few favorites I bake like a leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary and a middle eastern orange and almond cake. But because it's been so cold here, I feel a casserole coming on ...

Anna Campbell said...

Keziah, it's getting a bit chilly here too. Think I might have had my last swim for the season. Changed overnight! Definitely weather for lovely, yummy baked food. Good luck with your casserole!

jennifertanner said...

I'm having serious oven envy! My oven is still out of commission and we're trying to decide if we should replace or renovate the entire kitchen. I vote for the latter.

Do you make Yorkshire pudding with your roasts?

Anna Campbell said...

Jen, no, I don't. But I make a mean roast potato! Seriously, it's my one claim to fame. Ask anyone (who's eaten them). You'll have to swing over and see how they measure up. You know, renovating the kitchen could be a major hassle. Sure you don't want to just replace the oven? ;-)

Efthalia said...

Keziah,

I have one of those cakes sitting on my cake stand. Yum! It certainly is the weather for baking. And all this talk of food is not helping. Lol.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Hi, Anna. Ooh, food - my favourite subject! I've given my new oven a good workout since having it installed. The last cake I made was a fabulous Nutella cake. I can't wait for winter to kick in so I can roast potatoes to my heart's content.

I've been lucky enough to be treated to your *delicious* roast chook and chocolate slice. Mm-mm-mm! Still holding out hope you'll give me the recipe for the latter, but I have to admit, it's lovely to have you bake them for moi! Enjoy your new oven!

Efthalia said...

Anna,

That looks gorgeous. Hope the guys that installed it were equally so...lol. My stove died 4 weeks ago so I've had a lovely acquisition too. I've been baking like crazy. We baked Greek Easter biscuits today. Kids had fun.

Personally, for me, the aroma of cooked food when you walk into a house has to be the most exquisite to your sense of smell. I know some people don't like smelling out the house but seriously that's what home is, warmth and the aroma of good cooked meal. Nothing warms the heart more.

Agreed! Nothing tantalises the tastebuds like "roast chicken or a leg of lamb".

Cheers,
Efthalia

Kandy Shepherd said...

Wow! The new oven looks fabulous--you are going to have such fun with it. I speak from experience as I also have a new oven--what a difference to have fan-forced baking, and temperatures that actually match those on the gauge. The old one was more guesswork than precision baking. Enjoy!

Tobi Summers said...

That oven looks beautiful. I think that would inspire me to use it more. I love to cook and bake, but I'm inherently lazy. If I don't have someone to cook for, I usually don't bother.

Melissa said...

I'm not much of a cook myself but I absolutely love to bake. I discovered a love for in the past year and a half. Muffins are my favorite thing to bake and I'm always trying out different combinations. This weeks muffins are going to be peanut butter. I'm also going to test a combination of peanut butter and strawberry on just a few of the batch.

Annie West said...

Anna, enjoy your new oven. I'm sure you two are going to get better acquainted. Like you, I can't imagine living without an oven, though come to think of it we once spent a year in Europe cooking on just two electric wings in a tiny, tiny kitchen. Amazing how inventive you can be when you need to.

Anna Campbell said...

Efthalia, I went straight from Keziah's post to raid the Easter chocolate. She's very bad for my figure!

Anna Campbell said...

Vanessa, you tortured me with descriptions of the Nutella cake. I remember grinding my teeth at the reality that I was 500 miles away from its chocolatey goodness. Hmm, about time I made you some more choccy slice, don't you think?

Anna Campbell said...

Efthalia, I 100% agree with you about the smell of baking. I think it's wonderful. Apparently it's an old real estate trick to sell a house to put cookie dough in the oven when you're having an open house.

LOVE Greek pastries. There's a baklava scene in Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed. YUM!!!! Had a Greek friend when I was in boarding school whose mother used to send me goodies. Gorgeous stuff.

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, my flat in Sydney had a wonderful Smeg oven that cooked everything brilliantly. I've been managing on Mum's old oven up here and it's never been right and it got extremely wrong towards its sad end. Isn't it wonderful to have great cooking equipment? Love it!

Anna Campbell said...

Tobi, I get baking bugs when I'll do a lot and then not do any for ages. I must say nothing beats a homemade delish from the oven.

Anna Campbell said...

Ooh, Melissa! If you want a permanent taster, I'm available. Those sound spectacular. Do you get a wonderful feeling of accomplishment when you pull something that looks just beautiful out of the oven? I know I do!

Anna Campbell said...

Annie, as you say, when you have to, you manage. I went over six months without an oven. But I must say I missed it - especially for special occasions like Christmas or birthdays. It's wonderful having it now!

Melissa said...

If I could send them to you and they'd get there in some sort of manageable shape, I would! Now that you mention it, I do get quite the feeling of accomplishment when I take out a baking adventure creation. :)

Anna Campbell said...

Awww, what a lovely offer! My experience indicates posting baked goods is always risky. I've posted chocolate slice to Vanessa B and it always gets there in pieces. Mind you, she doesn't seem to mind, LOL!

Efthalia said...

Well that did it Anna. Now my curiosity is piqued and I'm wondering about the baklava and the rouge and the little word bed. Yes it's early but my mind is going to all sorts of places.

Will have to eagerly await for that one. Ah more wonderful books to read and so little time. Oh I just pre-ordered it.

Had to laugh with your friends mother. My mum did the same thing and even years later at work she would give me some sweets and biscuits to take to work. The girls loved them. I loved watching their faces. I guess that's why mum did it and still does. Now she takes biscuits to the nuns in the office at my nephew's school.

Food really does connect people. Brings them closer.

Yia sou Anna.

Anna Campbell said...

Efthalia, I always thought it was terrifically kind of Effie's mother (another Effie!) to send me these amazing boxes of treats. My fave was baklava but I wasn't sniffy about the shortbread and other things she made for me. I was a VERY unhappy boarder and this was such a nice thing to do. I agree with you about food - I think it's such an essential part of our lives, sharing food is like sharing ourselves. That's one of the reasons I love to bake for people.

Hey, cool on the pre-ordering! Thank you! I was having baklava yen when I was writing it and the closest I could get was having my hero give it to my heroine. Certainly helped in the seduction! LOL!

Efthalia said...

Ha, ha, must be something with the Effie's mum's. Yes there's one of us in every place.

I bet that scene turns to food porn. Wicked Anna!

Enjoy your day.

Anna Campbell said...

Snort! You're not far wrong! ;-)

ev said...

So far in the last year I have replaced my refrig with a new LG French Door, double drawer one. I love it. LED lights. Space. I can SEE stuff!! We also moved the new washer and dryer out and into a new space, so I have all this space now! I emptied the pantry on to a shelving unit so I can see stuff and cook stuff and am having a blast. Even taking cooking classes!

I love to bake. As my butt will attest to, I also like to eat it!

Currently my stove/oven are fine, but when I do replace them, it will be gas stove top and a wall oven with a warming drawer under. I only need one oven, not two. I think.

And I want 2 dish washer drawers, instead of a dishwasher. there are only two of us and it would be so much easier.

Next is a new freezer.

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Ev, that's some serious appliance planning ahead of you. Love the sound of the new fridge. A friend of mine had a two drawer dishwasher and it was great. I got a new dishwasher when I got the oven - it's a fairly basic model but I must say I love it too. It's SOOOOO much quieter than the old one. I swear the people ten miles away could hear when I used the old one! I always wanted a double oven and this new one has a half-size oven down the bottom which I love. My next major purchases move outside. I need a new fence. Groan.

Melissa P said...

I am not much of a baker. But i do get in those moods where I need to. Working a 40+ hours and with 4 kiddos it sometimes is kinda hard to be a baker. I like the oven. Maybe if I had an oven like that I would bake more often. B-) More room in my kitchen would be nice. There is no counter space. Plus my washer and dryer take up the one cornor. (I hate that..would love to move them)I end up having to use the top of the washer sometimes for counter space when I do bake.

Anna Campbell said...

Melissa, I used to live in a TINY little flat in inner-city Sydney (I used to kid myself it had Manhattan atmosphere). You literally could not fit more than one person in the kitchen. So I feel your pain. I love the kitchen I have now. Lots of cupboards and benches, a double sink and an island in the middle. Seriously, when you've been cooking in a squeezy little galley, this kitchen feels like the height of luxury. Hope you get your dream kitchen!

Jeanne M said...

Anna -
I'm jealous of your new oven and if you wake up one morning and it's disappeared I've kidnapped it! My stove has two large burner and one heats too low and the other too hot! My husband dropped something on the stovetop which now has a large crack as well.
My oven is heat hot and cold and so not only cooking is a challenge but baking as well!

Fortunately my background in camping over a cook fire from when my sons were young and I was dragged along has served me well to adapting. One winter we lost power from a bad snow storm and I cooked over a fire in the fireplace so I've become very adaptable.

I love to cook and bake and my husband of 42 years and with the exception of the occasional bag of frozen french fries doesn't know what frozen prepared food is unless it's something I've made from scratch and frozen.

My favorite thing to do is to bake goodies which my friends don't understand since I've been a Type I diabetic since childhood. My two favorites to make are cherry covered cheesecake is a family secret reciepe and wine biscuits come from my husband Italian family receipes. I never had to buy a boxed teething biscuit when my sons were babies and teething - wine biscuits did the trick and don't worry the alcohol bakes out of them when cooking!

My enjoyment comes from watching everyone eating my homecooked meals and treats and me watching them worry about their weight while I stay in shape!

PS: I still dream of having that perfect stove!

Chrisbails said...

I wish I had a new oven. I love to cook and bake. My favorite thing to make is fried chicken and love to bake just about anything. Love making desserts for holiday parties. Love making from receipes from my many cookbooks.
christinebails@yahoo.com

Virginia C said...

Hey, Anna C : ) Congrats on the new oven! Does this mean you'll be turning up the heat in those wonderful romance creations of yours? I have had several great cook stoves in my lifetime. The first one was an antique white enamel gas stove with red trim. It stood on legs, and it made that satisfying "woof" sound when you lit the pilot light. That was the stove where my grandmother really taught me to cook, and I was extremely attached to the stove. My family had to trick me into leaving the house when they replaced it with a new stove. Never did get attached to the replacement! The second great stove in my life was the one that came with our house that Mom and purchased in 1979 (still my home). It was an extra-wide, extra-tall electric range made by American Motors--yes, the car manufacturer! From what I could determine, the stove was made in the early fifties, and boy, could that baby cook! It had a big bright flourescent light across the width of the back of the range, and the space in the middle of the range top was big enough to use as a work station. I used to sell baked goods at craft shows, and I made over a ton of fudge on that stove! I had the cooking temperature and timing down to a science, and the fudge turned out just perfect every time! That stove died off a section at a time, and I clung to it until the very end. We replaced it with a standard Hotpoint electric range, nothing spectacular, but very serviceable. It has the plug-in burner units which are easy to remove for cleaning and replacement, but those things have survived everything that Mom and I both have done to them! I have replaced the broiler element and baking element both two times each. Very easy to replace--they are just held in place with two small screws and the elements plug in to the stove. This stove doesn't do anything special, but it has been extremely dependable. My favorite cold weather comfort foods to prepare are soup and bread. What a heavenly combination for the senses! The smell of baking bread combined with the bay leaves in the soup...maybe we could bottle that or make it into a scent for kitchen candles! I love to bake, and I love to share my baked goods. Have fun and keep us up to date on your kitchen capers!

Anna Campbell said...

Jeanne, I love your stories. Wow, cooking on an open fire! You're a better woman than I am, Gunga Din! That's so true about how satisfying it is to make things for people we love, though, isn't it? There have been Christmases where I've done baked goodies for people's presents - they loved getting them and I found it so satisfying. The problem is it's so time consuming. One of the wonderful things about the double oven is that I can get those cookies cooked in half the time! I must say I'm madly in love with my new oven!

Anna Campbell said...

Chris, isn't it fun to look through recipe books? I've got some really beautiful ones, mostly gifts, that I probably won't do a lot of cooking from. There's a French one of Provencale cooking which has some extremely strange ingredients for an Aussie. But the pictures are lovely. So glad you're another enthusiastic baker!

Anna Campbell said...

Virginia, I have to say when I wrote this post that it might be right up your alley. For those who don't know, Virginia talk about romance fiction and cooking and travel and movies and whatever takes her fancy over at Past the Print as a regular guest. http://pasttheprint.blogspot.com.au/

Oh, I loved your stories of those wonderful stoves. Isn't it awful when you find just the right appliance and it dies on you. Tragedy! My smeg oven in Sydney was like that. My mother had always had very basic ovens - having said that, she could cook up a storm on them. But that Smeg did the most wonderful baking. Lovely even temperature and somehow just right. I'm still finding my way around this one but I'm very pleased with it so far - although I've been caught out a couple of times because it's so much faster at cooking than the old oven which I think now must have been on its last legs for years before I replaced it. Soup and bread? Sound wonderful!!! I still miss the scent of my mother's roasts. Nothing like it!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, we've had a great chat today. I'm so glad you understand how thrilled I am with the new oven. When I wrote the blog, I worried that people would think it was such a minor thing to get so excited about. But seriously, I just love it! Thanks so much to everyone who swung by. And happy cooking!

Pat Cochran said...

1. Yes, I am a carnivore.
2. Yes, I am a baking fiend.
3. But especially, I am a fiend! He-He-He!
4. How about a brisket, a turkey, a chicken,
all with roasted veggies!
5. Oven, microwave, slow cooker, rarely on
the stove top.

My ultimate cooking feat: I once cooked my
twelve pound Thanksgiving turkey in my big
microwave oven. It was absolutely delicious!

Pat Cochran

Anna Campbell said...

Pat, you always make me laugh. And you're the only visitor today to admit to being a fiend! Well, apart from me. I am definitely a fiend! A fiend in need is a fiend indeed! Ooh, love your menu - can I come to dinner? Actually I don't often cook on the stove top these days either. There's a barbecue for quick cooking and now I've got my wonderful oven. I'm sure I told you how much I love it! LOL! Wow, a microwave turkey. I don't actually own a microwave which blows people's minds when they come to visit. I'm an old-fashioned gal!

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Ohhh, yes, please!!!!!! After all, you need to break in that lovely oven! xxx

Dina said...

Hi Anna, I dont like to cook, but cant afford to eat out all the time, so chicken is the easiest for me. :)

Carol L. said...

Hi Anna, Congrats on that new oven and a half. And yes, I have to say that I am indeed a fiend. :)
I love baking and through the years I've baked everything possible.
I've now passed the oven mitts down to my 24 year old who LOVES to cook and bake,. :)
Carol L.
Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

Michele L. said...

Oh wow Anna! I am so jealous! I have an oven but it doesn't work so well. I like the oven in our basement much better but hate having to run up and down the stairs just to use it. We have a kitchen downstairs in our basement also. I do love to cook but more of a fry pan lady than anything. I love stir fries, roasts, biscuits, homemade cookies, muffins, etc. My husband is a very good cook also! Actually, he cooks more than I do since I have a busy job and I take care of my elderly mom.

I used to be a baking fiend but now not so much. Enjoy that lovely oven of yours!