Toast-R-Oven

Toast-R-OvenI 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.)

camping toasterIt 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.)

big beast

My old flamed-out beast. It may not look it, but you could roast whole oxen in that thing.

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”.

Making Toast

Complex toast instructions! Also note the universal icon for toast (or maybe it means slice of bread that has caught on fire, it wouldn’t be the first time).

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.)

instructions2

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.

instructions3

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.

controlsSpeaking 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!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

20 responses to “Toast-R-Oven

  • dianasschwenk

    Happy New Toaster Oven! You should give it a name!

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    I’ve never owned a toaster oven and will probably never buy one. They take up a lot of space on the counter, right? I barely have room on mine for a plate and fork. We’ve got one at work and it takes 15 minutes to get toast. I have heated pizza in it before. I hope you have many years of joy and great bagels with your new friend. Great post, Wyrd!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Sounds like you have even less counter space than I do! That last one was a hulking brute, the new one is about halfway between that and the old ones I used to get (those had room for just two pieces of bread—the new one apparently sleeps four (in very close quarters)). Toast is what I have for breakfast (can’t stand eggs, rarely eat meat for breakfast, waffles take too much time, etc.), so I just gotta have a toaster!

      That one you have at work is a wimp! One thing I do like about the new guy (Alphonso): I’ve never made toast so fast in my life!

      • Snoring Dog Studio

        Yes, we have a wimpy toaster oven and a wimpy microwave. I’ll be bringing in a torch sometime soon. I love, love, adore, adore toast. But alas, I’ve given up bread for a while. I hope you have many happy years with Alphonso. He sounds like a keeper!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        So far Al and I are quite happy with each other! I know bread is one of those things people give up to reduce their calories (or because they have gluten problems (or maybe due to issues with the farm-industrial complex)), but I’d rather die first. As I’ve mentioned before, I love bread!

  • The Color of Lila

    Wyrd, you know from my last post that I am just back from a trip to see some relatives. As it happens, toaster ovens featured in the conversation. I shall have to recommend your find, as the homeowner in question has been through three toaster ovens in short order, and is dissatisfied with the current model too.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’ve been pretty lucky. My original toaster oven lasted for ages and it was built back when manufacturers made things that didn’t break immediately. It was surprising to me how light-weight the new one I first bought (the hulking beast) was. It did last for a few years, though, I’ll give it that. (Maybe it was upset that all it ever did was toast two pieces of bread (or two bagels). Maybe it was just dying to roast that oxen and caught fire in sheer depression. [shrug])

      I still haven’t figured out how I’m supposed to drill holes or saw wood with the new one, but so far it’s been making very good toast!

  • reocochran

    Yum! I love toast and toasted bagels. I also like English muffins how they “hold” the butter in those little holes and if needed or desired, cinnamon sugar! (Of course, jelly and jam, too.) I like using the tray in a toaster oven and a flat bread or whole wheat tortilla with shredded cheese. Hmmm, quesadillas! I use something most people will frown on, I sprinkle a little Italian dressing on before loading the cheese on. It is a little greasy but good.Welcome to Wyrd’s home, Alphonso! This was a fun post, Wyrd.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I used to enjoy English Muffins, too! (Remember Thomas English Muffins with the “nooks and crannies” to hold the butter?) On the right kind of toast, cinnamon sugar is wonderful! I’ve also used brown sugar or organic honey on the more whole wheat breads, which I tend to favor.

      But keep the Italian dressing on your side of the table, please! [shudders] 😀

  • reocochran

    Okay, well on your other post where you are talking about what to eat, you will have to shudder again (I mentioned my favorite sub of all, Italian!)
    Oh well, glad we won’t have to share the dressing nor the mild hot wings either. I am glad you are using healthy brown sugar and organic honey because I also believe that you can find tasty ingredients that as a bonus, are good for you!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      There are many things that are both healthy and tasty, but a sad irony of life is that so many really tasty things aren’t very good for you. That doesn’t seem fair, somehow…

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