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Chuck Hinman. IJMA No. 080 Men Stay Out!

It's Just Me Again No. 080: Men Stay Out. Self Cleaning Oven. For past Chuck Hinman columns, thumb back through Sundays with CM, reading as a Daily Newspaper.
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by Chuck Hinman

Connie and I moved back to Bartlesville in 1987 after I retired from Phillips Petroleum Company. One of the first things we did was remodel the kitchen. It was overdue; our house was more than 25 years old. Besides that we wanted a fresh look and smell after several years of renters. We had just sold our home on Lacy Hill in Houston and it was a downer moving back to our Bartlesville house in its condition.

We started by removing the dark kitchen cabinet doors. Our contractor made identical cabinets in the garage using the kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts. Then we hired a cabinet specialist in Fredonia, Kansas, who remodeled the existing cabinet framework so there was a soffit and plate rail. Then we selected fancy prefinished doors and drawer fronts.

After that we had beautiful cream-colored Corian counter-tops installed. No expense was spared as we bought a new table top stove and wall and micro-wave ovens.

When everything was finished it was like a "before and after" scene -- new light fixtures, chair-railings, expensive wall-paper, floor-covering, new window-treatments and the works. It was gorgeous. Even the kitchen sink was Corian with fancy up to date chrome plumbing fixtures to match the counter tops.

Connie had a state of the art kitchen but I felt she dilly-dallied using her new wall-mounted oven with all its bells and whistles. I wanted her to use it to make sure it worked before the warranty expired.

I finally had my fill of her excuses and asked her permission to make some Ranger cookies (my favorite) to see if the oven worked! Surprisingly, with a sweeping flourish of her hand and a cutesy bow -- she said, "Be my guest!"

In no time, the first sheet of cookies was in the oven. There were knobs, levers, controls, and lights everywhere. Not one to be bothered by written instructions, I turned everything on to make sure it all worked. I was not familiar with self-cleaning ovens and engaged the self-cleaning lever. After all, I am "just a man" and admittedly out of my realm in a foxy kitchen.

It was only supposed to take a few minutes for the cookies to bake so I pulled up a chair and waited. After exactly 10 minutes I tried to open the oven door and it wouldn't budge. Hey, what's going on here? Aha! My first thought, that's just the reason I wanted to know if the oven worked properly. Sure enough it didn't work and I was momentarily kind of glad. The door was hopelessly stuck shut!I turned the oven light on and the cookies appeared to be done. I pulled and jerked on the oven door and nothing happened. I called Connie and she shrugged her shoulders with no idea what to do. The cookies are going to burn I yelled!

In desperation I called the appliance store and talked to the lady salesman to ask her what was wrong with "her oven"? She waited a moment and said, "Mr. Hinman, you don't have the oven on self-clean, do you?" Fearing I was going to be embarrassed by her I said defensively, "I don't know what I've got it on. I'm just trying to bake some cookies. How would I know what I've got it on?"

"You didn't move the lever over the top of the oven door, did you?" I replied, "Yes, I turned on everything including the lever." At the time, I remember wondering why anyone would lock cookies in the oven when they were baking. "Why, is that wrong?" There was no answer and I said, "Are you still there?"

When she recovered from shock and giggling, she explained to me how the self-cleaning mode works. You apparently can't bake cookies and clean the oven at the same time! Why, oh why do they make things so complicated these days?

She said that I hadn't hurt anything except the cookies would be cremated and look like hockey pucks. Indeed, they did!

Oh Lord -- why didn't I stay out of the kitchen and leave the cookie-making to the cook, Connie? I lost my taste for cookies and threw out the unused dough. I pitched the cremated cookies out in the back yard where even the birds and unknown backyard critters wouldn't have anything to do with them!

The next earlier Chuck Hinman story: Chuck Hinman. IJMA No. 127: A funny thing happened to me

This story was posted on 2011-06-12 07:02:15
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