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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

getting ready for thanksgiving

I've discovered the joy of a convection oven! When R & M bought their new house, it came equipped with a Jenn-aire stove. It is an old one but it's fantastic. Jenn-aire, in case you don't know, is a high end type of cook stove. This one does everything except whistle "Dixie" when your roast is done. For one thing, it has removable burners on the right side that expose a built in griddle. The grease trap under the griddle almost cleans itself.

As far as I'm concerned the Best Feature is the center exhaust fan. I was excited when I got a hood over the range that sucked the hot steam up off the pots and out of the kitchen. THIS BABY has a built in exhaust between the burners in the center of the stove. You flip the switch and it sucks the steam down into the fan and shoots it out the vent. Amazing. I was skeptical at first but WOW! does it work! No steam in your face for one thing. No steam billowing out into the kitchen. And, especially(!), no greasy residue on the hood or the underside of the counters above the stove. There is a fan cover with a filter that pull out and pop into the dishwasher, so cleaning isn't a problem. (Not having that hood to scrub every whipstitch gets my vote every time) If you ever have a chance to get this feature in a new range, by all means, grab it! It takes a little room off your oven space, but it more than makes up for it in comfort and convenience.

The only thing that confused me was (and still is, truth be told) the oven. It does about three or four different things. I always had ovens that you stuck your meatloaf in and set the thermostat to 350, then let it cook. THIS oven you have to tell it what to do. At first every time Rachael left me with directions to put the roast in, I had to check what kind of cooking to use. (FYI: Most ovens are radient heat ovens. Okay, smirk if you will. I'm a dumb country kid--we only had one kind of oven. I told you that!)

This oven also cooks by convection. That is it cooks the food by circulating super hot air around it! I'm not sure how that is better than radient or if it is better even. But this morning at 5:45 AM I discovered a Use For It.

Making dry bread for dressing has always been a pain in my kitchen. Mostly that was because I always forgot about it until twenty minutes before I was ready to make the dressing--just about the time I pulled out the celery, onions, sage, and carrots to begin chopping! So we over stressed the breakfast toaster trying to put two loaves of bread through it in twenty mintues or we spread the bread all over the oven racks and turned the heat up. This sometimes resulted in charred edges on the bread, but don't be picky.

This morning-note this is Wednesday, a full day before we have to make dressing! This morning I said I would dry the bread today so it would be ready to turn into dressing tomorrow. It only took me sixty years to come up with such an outstanding idea. I was preparing to spread the bread out to dry when The Idea hit me. Why not put the bread through the convection oven! Hot dry air. Bread you want to be dry. Perfect combination. AND it saves Vondi having to stand up and turn bread and keep the cats away and remember to put the bread away again when its dry.

I spread the bread on a cookie sheet-kind of leaning them up against one another so the air could circulate. I set the oven to 250 and clicked the dial over to convection! Fifteen minutes later I have dry bread. No rotating slices or flipping slices or trips to the kitchen. No worrying about bread charring while it toasts in the oven. No keeping an eye on the cats so they don't decide to investigate the bread spread on the counter. No gathering it up later. it's all done, sitting there in the oven ready to use tomorrow!

Go buy yourself a $3000 or $4000 Jenn-aire cookstove. It's really handy for drying the bread for your Thanksgiving turkey dressing. Among other things.

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