I’ve been writing a little less than usual because I’ve been doing a little less than usual. The weather has turned positively wintery (we even had the tiniest dusting of snow this week!) and most of my activities have been boring, routine maintenance things like making sure that the hoses got disconnected from the outside spigots and topping up the air in my tires after the temperature drop took the air pressure with it.
I have, of course, still been walking Pippin because this is his kind of weather. He dances around the house, eager to get out into the cold, while I put on an extra pair of pants, extra warm socks, and zip up my heavy winter coat. When I cook, he has abandoned his spring and summer post (behind me, out of the way, but close enough to quickly assess and gobble up anything tasty I might drop) in favor of sitting on the deck to sniff the arctic wind.
I’ve also been continuing my language learning on Duolingo, although my focus has narrowed to French and Greek. Kalen and I have begun looking at options to re-book our long overdue London and Paris trip, so the French lessons feel extra exciting as I imagine actually using the phrases I’ve learned. Greek is still more of an indulgence, but it brings back fond memories of a spring break long ago, and makes the bleak winter days feel less oppressive.
One of my favorite ways to pass cold winter days is baking but that’s somewhat off the table for the moment (that was a really horrible pun and I apologize profusely) for two reasons. The first reason is that I’ve lost twenty pounds since September but I’m not ready to test my willpower just yet; I’ll have plenty of that in the next month and a half with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming around.
The second reason is my oven. I’ve held off on writing about this because I was hoping for a quick resolution and my years working in a law office made me hesitant to get my blog involved (not that it would make much difference, you’re a lovely albeit small audience, but simplicity is often preferable). We bought new appliances last year and also purchased an extended coverage plan to cover those same appliances.
Unfortunately, I noticed just a couple weeks ago that the inside of my oven is flaking off and the exposed metal underneath is rusting. I was reaching into the back to remove a stray chickpea that had popped off the pan during roasting the night before and several blue flakes stuck to my hand. I looked closer and found more damage throughout the oven floor. We’ve had this oven for 15 months. The manufacturer’s warranty, of course, expired at one year, but that’s why we bought the protection plan, right? Just in case something went wrong, and this is definitely wrong.
In college, I lived in two different apartments on campus. Each of those apartments had an oven that could kindly be classified as “well-used” and neither of those ovens were rusting inside. Similarly, after graduation, I lived in two different “grown up” apartments. The first one had appliances that I’m pretty sure were older than I was, based on the vaguely yellow coloring of the exteriors and the “wood look” accents. The second apartment was a little more recently updated, but the oven was still undeniably one you’d find in a modestly-priced apartment. Again, neither of these ovens were shedding their internal linings like they had poisoned themselves with ivermectin. Nor was the oven in the house we rented prior to this, nor the oven that came with this house, nor any other oven I’ve encountered in my life.
And lest you start thinking it’s me and making that “Sure, Jan” face in my direction, let me say that I take good care of my kitchen.
The oven came with multiple admonitions not to put aluminum foil on the bottom and because this was a practice I had never done before, I certainly wasn’t about to start now. I don’t even use weird harsh chemical cleaners. One of the biggest selling points of this oven was the steam-clean feature where you just pour a little water in the bottom of the oven, the oven heats up the water to make steam, and you wipe it out. This is the only cleaning I’ve ever done on this oven. I’ve never even done the serious “there might be tiny fires inside and a strong smoke smell” self-clean with this oven.
Certain, then, that my oven merely had an unfortunate defect, I submitted a claim to the protection plan, but it’s so rigidly computerized that my options were sorely limited. I first selected that my oven was damaged (looks like damage to me), and the claim was immediately denied. There was no place for me to qualify that it hadn’t been damaged, it simply is damaged. After that I tried again under the other option, that it “wasn’t functioning” with the justification (again, given only internally to myself, as there was nowhere to submit that with the claim) that the protective coating wasn’t fulfilling its function of protecting the interior of the oven. A service contractor was dispatched to inspect the damage and his diagnosis was immediately, “Can’t do anything about it,” (Yes, I suspected it couldn’t be repaired) and “It’s cosmetic.”
No, it’s not cosmetic. There are chips and shards of blue material (is it glass, is it ceramic, is it enamel? I don’t know, but it’s not supposed to come off) flaking away from my oven, potentially contaminating my food when the convection oven turns on, and the exposed metal is rusting which will affect the integrity of the heating and may eventually rust through, exposing the hidden heating element. I certainly can’t use the steam clean feature because putting water on the exposed metal and heating it up will exacerbate the rust, and wiping it off will expose more metal. It is not a cosmetic issue and it certainly shouldn’t be happening on an oven that is less than a year and a half old.
Now I’m fighting with the protection plan to get them to actually cover what they’re supposed to and make this right, but in the mean time, I’m not using my oven. I could still use it in theory, but as I mentioned before, I don’t want to risk eating blue oven coating; I don’t want to make it worse; and should the need for it arise, I want to leave any evidence intact and preserved. I’m not naming names of the brand of oven, the store that sold us the appliances and the impotent coverage, or any of the rest that’s related just yet in hopes that things can be peacefully resolved, but I will come out and say now, and after a little internet research: Don’t buy any oven with a blue interior. Apparently the blue has caused problems across multiple brands, and I never would have thought to look for that when we were researching our new appliances.
In the meantime, I’m modifying recipes that call for roasting, toasting, baking, and broiling to try and cook them on the stove top with similar results and have been moderately successful so far. My sourdough starter, however, looks at me dejectedly every time I open the fridge, wondering why I’ve abandoned it. I broke down this morning and made some english muffins because they at least are cooked on the griddle rather than in the oven. Thank goodness I’m not hosting Thanksgiving and I can bake my contributions at my mom’s house with her (not blue) oven.
But that doesn’t help me pass the cold winter days. Instead I fume and document communications and then re-center myself by taking Pippin on another cold walk through the neighborhood.
For an “uneventful update,” I seem to have said an awful lot, so I’m going to stop here. I suppose I’ll keep you updated though on how the oven saga turns out. How are you coping with colder days? Or do you live somewhere wonderful where it isn’t cold, or maybe you’re in a place where it gets cold but not right now? Leave a comment and don’t buy an oven with a blue interior.