I bought a new toaster oven the other day. My old one caught fire a little bit and afterwards it didn’t make very good toast. The lower elements fried, so it only heated from above. Broiled toast is strange and sad. I had to toast one side and then flip my bread to toast the other.
It was interesting looking over at the toaster that one morning and wondering why bright yellow, kinda flickery, light was coming out of the toaster. A dull orange glow, that’s expected, but bright yellow? What’s up with that?
Oh! Fire! Damn, my toasted is burned! Literally.
Ever since, it’s been a pain in the ass making toast. It’s not always easy to get both sides done right. Plus it ends up hotter on one side than the other. (What can I say? I’m particular about toast.)
It does remind me of those camping toasters that perch on a propane burner. They’re a four-sided metal frame assembly against which you rest up to four pieces of bread (or bagels; we were that kind of camper). But only one side gets done; you always have to turn the toast.
So earlier this week I reached back to my hunter-gatherer roots, geared up with modern weapons (car, credit card, sunglasses), and set off seeking suitable prey. The last time I went hunting for such beasts, I only found large, hulking brutes capable of feeding a family of six (and catching fire). (The critter I’d captured previously was pleasantly petite and fit into a single guy’s kitchen just right.)
Those hulking hippopotami still infest the hunting ground, but I also spotted smaller creatures nesting among the shelves. I carefully cocked my weapon and brought down a very nice specimen. It’s of the species Black & Decker, so I think it can drill holes and saw wood in addition to making toast. And it can cook small pizzas and extremely small turkeys. (They come in “sparrow” size, do they not?)
The new oven comes with instructions that I found rather bemusing. I was reminded of The Color of Lila‘s recent post about diesel fuel cars and its question, “Are Americans too stupid for diesel cars?” (As my readers will have figured out by now, for my money, you can often answer with a vehement “Yes!!” after just the first four words.)
These instructions support the case. To use my new kitchen creature as a toaster—the very point of the purchase (which I procured from a purchase point)—I’m to turn the Temperature knob to the position marked “Toast”. I’m also to turn the Function knob to the position marked “Toast”.
Then I manipulate the timer in exactly the way that timers have been manipulated since timers were invented: turn past the mark labeled “Turn past here” and then set your time (turning back if required).
I’m reminded of an observation from Douglas Adams’ seminal work, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, about how there are instructions on boxes of toothpicks. (In point of fact, the toothpicks I’ve bought do not come with directions, so I was forced to figure out how they worked on my own.)
You might suppose that using the “Toast-R-Oven” (yes, that’s its name) for other functions must be complicated. It turns out that to bake, you turn the Temperature and Function knobs to the position marked “Bake” and set the timer as desired.
And to broil? Yep, turn knobs to “Broil” and “Broil” (just follow the universal icon for “Broil” (unless that’s the universal icon for skidding into a wall on slippery ice while driving a three-wheeled vehicle)).
Oh, and set the timer.
Speaking of universal icons, I’m not sure if the icon for “Bake” is a hat or a slice of cake. I’m leaning towards hat because I’ve never seen anyone bake a single slice of cake, frosting and all. And bakers and chefs do wear head-gear, so it seems the more logical choice. (Granted, I’ve never seen a baker wearing a fedora while on duty, but the folks at B&D may have a different sense of style.)
Regardless of the ambiguity of its iconography, I’m quite pleased with my new pet. It’s pretty serious about toasting; I’ve never gone from bread to toast so quickly before. And what a delight to have it evenly toasted all in one go! (Simple pleasures are often the best pleasures.)
As part of the month-long retirement celebration, I’ve been indulging in a favorite breakfast: “Thompson Breakfast Bagels” (which I’ve described before). The first set was done using my old wounded two-stage toasting beast. All five of those came out with either the outside or inside over-toasted. (When bagels get over-toasted, they get hard and crunchy, and they tear up the roof of your mouth a little.)
After bringing the new one into my home, I decided I deserved a second set of TBBs—if for no other reason than to thoroughly test the capabilities of my new kitchen creature. In a word: perfection!
In another word: yummy!