Then the reality of the stove from hell set in! The brand name of this unacceptable so called kitchen range shall be withheld here to avoid the possibility of litigation- suffice to say it is a four burner electric with downdraft ventilation.
An important fact to note here is that I had my dream kitchen in Payson before moving to Gig Harbor. A 36" Thermador Pro range which sported 6 burners and huge oven afforded me the opportunity to really cook on 6 burners, and bake to my heart's content. That range even had an infrared broil unit.. just like the big boys in the expensive restaurants use! Leaving that range behind was like leaving an old friend. But I digress!
I've never been a fan of electric cook tops, so imagine my dismay when I discovered the coil burners on the range I inherited here were after market, didn't fit properly, and worse, didn't heat evenly and consistently. After enduring regular whining, unending complaints and blue language emanating from the kitchen for a few months, my helpful other half diligently sought and acquired what he thought would be the answer to my problems: halogen glass top inserts! AAARRGH!
If you've ever tried to regulate the heat on a ceramglass top.. you know the problem. Certain pots work better than others... don't try using anything with a ridge around the bottom like a Le Cruset dutch oven or grandmas old cast iron skillet. Don't even think about putting a granite canner with a 14" bottom on it and expect to heat 4 gallons of water. What good are these things any way? Oh- right... you can boil pasta or maybe fry an egg.
And then, there is the problem of ventilation. Boiling pasta, making soup, reducing stock, steaming vegetables, all reasonable processes in a kitchen, release steam into the air. It's really best not to have steam drifting up into the corners of the kitchen ceiling, and who knows where else all that moisture ends up. Perhaps you would wonder, at this juncture why I don't simply turn on the exhaust system?
Take a second look at the picture above. See that long skinny black section between the burner inserts? It is the exhaust intake. Right. It's a downdraft. In high school science, I learned that heat rises, and usually steam, smoke, and fumes go with it! S0! Picture this: A tall 12 quart pasta or stock pot filled with boiling liquid. I never learned how to calculate what percentage of steam comes off a boiling cauldron, but I do know that steam rising about 12-15 inches off the surface of a stove top is not easily sucked below. The roaring vibrating fan which is supposed to swallow all of that steam shakes the stove, vibrates the pot, and makes cooking a most raucous and unpleasant experience.
And so it begins! A mini-remodel of our kitchen which will include upgraded lighting, new stone counter tops, a new under mount sink, and best of all! A brand new Electolux dual-fuel 30" slide in range with, of course, a natural gas cook top. It also has a convection oven (always wanted one of those), with bread-proofing, slow cooking and dehydration settings and even a warming drawer! But what about ventilation you ask? An overhead stainless steel 30" x 36" hood, with a 600cfm blower! Take that pasta pot, stock pot and canner!
We'll be losing a little of the visual open space between the kitchen and the dining area, but the cook will be so much happier. And in theory, a happy cook should produce better tasting and more elegant meals. Stay tune for pictures of work in progress and dinner invitations forthcoming!