Friday February 9, 2007

I have had my share of less than reliable stoves over the years.  Funny as it may seem, my mom’s O’Keefe and Merritt stove, which now is on display in my parlor, is the oldest stove I’ve ever used and it would still, if I had natural gas in my home, be the stove I used daily.  No computerized parts.  No electronic gizmos.  Just plain old mechanics that have endured for more than half a century.  I cooked on this stove in our former home, and I do miss using it!  It’s a great stove.  You can see the stove in my avatar at the top of my blog.

Early in our marriage, Copper and I rented a duplex with a stove that worked sometimes, and didn’t work at other times.  I can remember putting a pan of water on and bringing it to a boil, then adding my oatmeal, and turning the stove down only to return later to a stone cold pot of half-cooked oats!  I baked a beautiful cake in the oven one day, but the next day the chicken didn’t cook even though it had been in the oven for several hours!  The next time I used the oven, the biscuits burned!!!  Oy!  I used my crock pot and a toaster oven a lot during the months we lived in that unit.

As I mentioned yesterday, the oven in our current home was not operational for the first several months we  lived here.  Corin, Dani and I prepared all of our family meals on the stove top or in the crock pot.  Even though the stove has been replaced and the oven works properly now, (Well, sort of.  The self-cleaning feature gave out.) There are times when there just is not enough room in the smallish oven.  Here are some ideas that have worked for me.  Some utilize things that you may already have on hand, and some are things you might keep an eye out for while thrifting.   In case of an emergency, it’s good to know what might work that you already have!  Some other ideas might require a purchase, but it will give you an idea of something that you might be on the look out for when you go out thrifting or garage sale-ing.  Or add them to your Christmas or birthday wish list!

The tried and true Crock Pot.  I have three, of various sizes, and ages, and use them all.  If you are looking at used crock pots, if at all possible, buy one that has the removable cooking pot.  These make the clean up so much easier.  However, if all you can find are the style with the non-removable pots, these are still a great investment.  A crock pot can cook most any type of meat, vegetable, soup, stew or bean dish.  I’ve never done so, but I know that it is even possible to bake in them.  I use my crock pots year round.  There’s nothing like a wonderful cooked-all-day dish to warm you up on a winter evening, and preparing roasts in the crock pot in the summer keep the house cooler than using the oven.

An Electric Fry Pan.  Copper bought me a nice, big one at Costco for Christmas a few years ago, and I love it!  Besides the obvious meats, potatoes, etc., you can use your electric fry pan to prepare pasta and vegetables, too.  You can “bake” biscuits and other non-yeast rolls in the electric skillet, too.  Necessity breeds invention!

Another item that I wouldn’t be without, and that would be great to have if your oven is broken, is the roaster oven.  This was another Christmas gift a few years ago from Copper, and I absolutely love this thing!!   During the holidays, if I have a turkey or ham in the oven, there is no room for anything else.  I can cook my turkey or ham in the roaster, which frees up the regular oven for side dishes, rolls, etc.  In the days when we home churched, I frequently brought the roaster oven in when we had too many shared dishes for the regular oven.  It has been used to bake casseroles, roast meats, keep already prepared dishes warm while others cooked, etc.  I can remember my mom using hers to make a HUGE amount of chili beans for a gathering she and dad hosted.  She mixed, cooked and served them right in her roaster!  Mom also filled hers with water and tons of hot dogs once for a school function.  A family at the church we attend now brings their roaster to our weekly shared meal frequently filled with meat balls. Not only are these just super handy, they are also a breeze to clean.  If my oven ever goes on the fritz again, my roaster will have a place of honor on the counter!! Watch for these when you go thrifting!

I lived without a microwave oven for many, many years; but I know the convenience of a microwave is great. They are also wonderful to have if your regular stove is on the fritz!  Again, you can cook most anything in the microwave, but may have to stagger your dishes if you’re cooking for a family using only a microwave.

An Electric “hot pot” or electric tea kettle can be used to heat soups or to cook small amounts of pasta. This isn’t a great idea, especially for a family, but in a pinch……

A toaster oven.  My mother-in-love was a dedicated toaster oven user.  Since I’ve had children I’ve not had one, though I was glad to have one early in our marriage.  Perhaps when Copper and I are empty-nesters this will be a good appliance for us to have on hand.  However, if you have one, you can use it to prepare anything that you would prepare in an oven or broiler.  The only drawback would be its size if your family is large.

Do you have a camp stove?  How about an outdoor grill?  These can both be used for everyday cooking if your stove is broken.  We’ve used our outdoor grill to prepare entire meals.  Vegetables steam nicely wrapped in foil and placed on the grill.  You can bake potatoes on the grill, too.  Some vegetables grill nicely without being wrapped.  Try soaking corn on the cob, still in its husk, in salt water for a couple of hours and then roast on the grill right in the husk!  Yummy!  Marinated sliced zucchini is also good.  Our gas grill has a side burner that we can cook on, but you can put any pan (so long as it doesn’t have plastic handles) on the grill, too, in a pinch.

Your camp stove can be set up on a porch or in the garage with the door open to cook on, too.   Do NOT bring a propane fired camp stove into your home to cook on.  The fumes are dangerous and could be fatal to your family.  Keep the camp stove outside where there is adequate ventilation!!!

I have prepared a few meals on top of our wood stove in the living room.  The top surface is not very big, but a cast iron skillet will fit.  One dish meals, meats, etc., would all cook well here.  It’s also possible to place a dutch oven inside the wood stove on top of the coals, and with a few coals on the lid, to cook in, too. I’ve never mastered this technique, but The Outdoor Dutch Oven Cookbook can give you some good pointers if you’re interested in learning this cool skill for home or camping.

Copper’s uncle built his own solar oven and used it to cook meals one entire summer.  He and his wife baked breads and cakes, roasted meats, and made all sorts of great things in their solar oven.  He built his very inexpensively with items he had on hand.  If this interests you, the book Cooking with the Sun: How to Build and Use Solar Cookers might give you the information you need to build your own.  I would imagine you could find instructions on the internet as well.

As always, if your stove and/or oven should stop working, look at what you have on hand.  Be creative!  Think of new uses for old things!!  Ask your children.  My kids have often surprised me by coming up with a great solution for a problem I could not see my way through.

God bless you as you look well to the ways of your household!
Proverbs 31:27

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9 comments to Friday February 9, 2007

  • Hey! You forgot that you CAN can on a camp stove in the garage when necessary! 😆 I’ll never forget the stove blowing up in the middle of canning! :fun:

  • Your Mom’s stove is amazing! Just beautiful. Your kitchen is very warm and inviting. Thank you so much for the advice! I mentioned in the previous post that my oven is very small. I never thought to use a roaster oven! I will have to keep an eye out for one, it would be perfect for Thanksgiving and Christmas! Also, you have inspired me to get my crockpot out and start using it again!

  • You have mixed all the ingrediants for your son’s 6th birthday cake and suddenly realize that your oven broke a day ago, what do you do?  I simply heated up the grill, slid the cake on to the rack, closed the lid, and stepped back to pray.  Thankfully we did have cake for dinner.  Plus now my son has this wonderful story of how his mom grilled his cake.:)  So, I heartily thank you for more ideas to try when I am in a pinch.

  • Great ideas, Copper’s Wife!  First, I love your mom’s stove.  It’s beautiful, and I bet it works great!

    I use our crockpot usually at least once a week, mostly on Sundays.  We come home from church to a hot meal.  I also use it if I’m going to be out of the house all day for some reason, so I don’t have to come in tired and have to cook for an hour to get supper ready.

    Last summer, our power went out one afternoon just as I was getting ready to make manicotti.  My husband immediately thought of our little camp stove and the gas grill.  I boiled the noodles and cooked the meat filling on the camp stove, then we baked the manicotti in the grill.  It turned out great, and I just know our neighbors were all getting hungry smelling it! LOL  I would have never thought to use the camp stove and grill, though, if not for my dh.

    I mentioned our tiny oven yesterday in my comment on your post.  My dh is a pastor, and he bought one of those roaster ovens for church dinners.  I’m hoping to get to borrow it during the holidays this year for a turkey or ham, because either of those of any sufficient size won’t fit in my little oven, and I especially wouldn’t be able to fit in all the side dishes too.  I can’t even fit more than one on a rack as it is!

    Thanks again for these posts on the kitchen.  I’m also going to read the book you recommended – thanks!


  • You forgot to mention the fun day at our house when the roaster oven meal turned into a visit from the fire department! Great ideas! I still love my (new!) roaster.

  • Some great tips.  Here is one I have used too.  We live where the air conditioning runs 9 months of the year and even the heat from the crock pot is not welcome.  So I use mine in the garage.  An easy carry out and an easy carry in.  

    And it is nice to meet a fellow “hot-pot” user.  We were just commenting the other day that it is the most used appliance in our kitchen (tea, cocoa, oatmeal, soup).  We just bought one for my sister in law who was heating water in a saucepan for tea.  She loves it!

  • Oh, yeah….NEVER leave your roaster oven ON when you LEAVE your house.  Bad things can happen!!  But, hey!  Lisa!!!  That was the most exciting Sunday we’d had in a looooooong time.   Coming down your long drive way and seeing the lights and the fire trucks……made this momma (who had son riding in your van)  VERY happy to see all those laughing, smiling boys running to meet us….Still praising God for His mercy in sparing your home that day!

  • I love that old stove! It reminds me when I was a young girl visitng my Great Grandmother, she had a big pot like the one in your picture and in that pot she would have Smoked Ham Hocks and Black Eye Peas and Corn Bread Baking in the oven. AHHH The Smells!

    Have A Blessed Day Cooperswife! :sunny:

  • Those of you familiar with the Tightwad Gazette, check the compilation out of the library or each of the individual 3 out. In one of them is the necessary information about solar cooking. Your post has made me give that method a second thought. I may try it as I attempt my first veggie garden this year as well. And talk about small kitchens! I’ll have to discuss this and post a pic on my blog. Little to no counter space, a decent oven and nice fridge, but I also have a washer, dryer, and portable dishwasher in there. I hung a pot rack to help with the cabinet space. There is no pantry either, so the food and the stockpiled food has to go in the cabinets as well (and on top of the fridge). I actually rather like my kitchen though, despite it all.