Oh my GAWD do I hate my cooktop

I didn’t choose the appliances that are currently in my kitchen. That’s nothing new: I haven’t chosen the appliances in ANY of my kitchens so far. I’ve always just lived with the appliances that were there when we moved in. The difference between our previous houses and this current one is that I just haven’t had a tremendous problem with the kitchen appliances until we moved here. We haven’t had the luxury of renovating our kitchen to our own tastes yet, but I’m REALLY looking forward to doing that now.

In our last house (aka “The Beautiful Little House in Saline”) the kitchen had been newly renovated by the previous owner, probably to make it easier to sell when she found a larger place. She was not a kitchen fan, however, so everything was very gently used. That definitely worked for us!img_1967There’s a picture from when we were looking at the house. Please note the high chair is NOT ours. 🙂

The kitchen was beautiful, with like-new appliances and more custom cabinetry and storage space than any other kitchen I’ve ever seen. It was a great layout with lots of counter space and a built-in, Corian-topped bar, which allowed me to be very productive, plus it boasted a really nice gas range. I grew up cooking on an electric range/oven, and frankly, the idea of natural gas and pilot lights frightened me at first. After I’d had a chance to use a gas range, I understood its superior performance for cooking. Immediate heat, and immediate LACK of heat–you can control your cooking temperature much more efficiently with a gas range than with an electric range, which has heating elements that heat and cool slowly, which must be figured in to your cooking time.

Plus, if you want to get fancy-shmancy and do something like ‘roast peppers until blackened’ you can do that over a gas range without having to go outside and uncover the grill. We hosted more get-togethers in the Beautiful Little House In Saline than anywhere else.

So, yeah. If you’ve not figured it out by now, I REALLY miss that house and its kitchen.

Fast-forward to the current day, and our current house. It’s not bad, really, but it’s not great like the Beautiful Little House in Saline. It’s got a huge, amazing yard that’s already fenced, on a dead-end street with mature hardwood trees in the front yard. It has 2 1/2 bathrooms which is absolutely vital for me, and really nice for guests. There’s a rec room downstairs with a fireplace and laminate wood flooring with a walk-out slider to the backyard, which will be fantastic for entertaining, once I get it whipped into shape.

But there’s no hardwood floors hiding under decrepit carpet for an instantaneous and INEXPENSIVE UPGRADE here, no almost-new kitchen appliances, and sadly enough, no huge, horsetrough-sized 1960’s bathtub. It’s only taken Rick and I the purchase of three houses, but I think we’re really beginning to understand what’s really important to us both in terms of home features.

When we bought this house, we bought it for the location and for the yard, and the rec room and all the bathrooms. We knew there’d be things that needed to be redone, like the french doors to the backyard deck that were hung incorrectly, and now are warped and harder to open and close than someone else’s bank vault, and the tired-ass carpeting that really needs to be ripped up and replaced with hardwood flooring…and the kitchen. We knew that we’d like to remodel the kitchen in whatever house we bought, unless of course we lucked out and found one in which the previous owner had already done that.

So we accepted that we’d have to live with the older-but-still-perfectly-functional appliances until we could get some money together to design our own kitchen.

But that won’t be happening for a while. The fridge is new, so I can’t complain about that. The dishwasher is old and noisy, and not very efficient, with weirdly-sized racks that fit none of our drinking glasses. I’m considering using my former boss’ tip for breaking dishwashers to try to get a new one courtesy of our home warranty. He shared this one day while we were talking about our old dishwasher back in Highland Township. He said “If you really want to break it completely, make a pan of lasagna, eat half of the pan, then leave the other half in the fridge, uncovered, until it dries out completely. Then put it in the dishwasher without scraping anything out. Apparently, this will kill the dishwasher, breaking the impeller or something else that’s really expensive, and it will be less costly to just buy a new one.”

I said “You speak of this as if from personal experience.” He just said “Yep. Dried lasagna is hell on dishwashers.”

But the dishwasher is not that important to me. We usually run it at night when we’re going to sleep, and the noise is actually a pleasant mask for drowning out incidental sounds that might keep us awake.

The stove, on the other hand, is a problem. it’s my biggest bitch and I’m certain that Rick is very very very tired of hearing me swear and cuss it out every time I use it. It’s a Whirlpool RF376PXDZ 1 with a Ceram by Schott cooktop. I do have to admit that the ceramic solid surface is much easier to clean after a boil-over, which is fortunate–because I have so goddamned many boil-overs with this range. The heating of the burners doesn’t seem to be consistent or even predictable. If I put a pot of potatoes on to simmer for mash, it takes for-freaking-EVER for them to even come to a boil, and then when I try to turn them down, there is no setting low enough to keep them simmering without boiling over. Dammit. I AM NOT A NOVICE. I KNOW HOW TO BOIL POTATOES FOR MASHING.

And if I’m trying to heat broth for making gravy? Can’t get it hot enough. Same for stir-frying–you’re supposed to get that oil hot before you even put food in the pan–but it takes forever to get it hot enough and I never seem to wait long enough, so it’s more of a stir-simmer.

But on the OTHER hand, if I’m making rice pudding? Which requires a hellaciously long simmer at a very low heat? This stove will burn that shit EVERY time. I don’t think it’s my cookware, because all my pans have flat bottoms, which is a prerequisite with this cooktop.

In fact, I just downloaded the manual for the stove, and it says “Cooking on the ceramic glass cook top is almost the same as cooking on a coiled surface units, but there are a few differences:

The surface unit will glow red when it is
turned on. You will see the element cycling
on (glowing red) and off – even on HI
setting -to maintain the proper tempera-
ture setting you have selected.”

Okay. That explains a lot, the whole ‘element cycling on and off’ thing. This is one of those computerized ‘advancements’ which are supposed to do half the think-work of cooking for me, “to maintain the proper temperature setting you have selected.” Wait a minute–I selected the number on the freaking dial–that should either be low, medium, or high, or various settings between those intensity ranges.

If I set it on “HI” I want that puppy to heat up and stay heated up. If I turn it on “MED” I want it to STAY on MED. There’s no temperature dial on those knobs–I didn’t expect it to be keeping track of the actual TEMPERATURE of the element. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’M the person operating the stove and cooking the food–isn’t it MY job to monitor the temperature, and adjust the damned knob accordingly??!? No WONDER the bastardly thing isn’t working right! It’s trying to THINK for me!

*Sigh* Gimme another quality gas range, which will allow me to set the height of the flame–and keep it right there for me.

And yes, I do have control issues–why do you ask?

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