Today I turn the dial and my stove comes on, but that was not always the case.
The first stove that I remember was the one at my grandmother's house. I loved the stove because there was a deep compartment on one side of the oven that stored the cookie sheets and cupcake pans perfectly. There was also a counter portion over the oven that was great to set things on. That took the place of a counter top.
What I did not like was lighting the pilot for the oven with a match whenever I wanted to use it. Although it intimidated me I mastered the technique so that I could bake even if my grandmother was not at home. I think I have mentioned before that I particularly liked to bake when I was alone because I just could not please my grandmother if she was watching. Everything came out fine so I knew my methods worked, but I probably was not as careful and methodical as grandma was.
I had a rather harrowing experience with my aunt's gas stove one time. My cousin and I were trying to surprise her mother by baking a cake for supper. I turned the gas on but my match blew out. By the time I lit another one and inserted it into the pilot there was a flash. There was more gas than I needed. I scorched my eyebrows but lived to tell about it, thank goodness. No damage was done and we did bake our cake.
My mother and I moved to a place of our own when I was in college. She chose an electric stove and I loved it. I especially liked using the broiler because the unit was right inside the oven so I could vary the height where I cooked things to get them done just right. I could throw in the meat when I saw mom pull into the driveway and have dinner finished by the time she had cleaned up.
My husband and I bought a mobile home to set beside my in-laws at the farm when we got married. It came complete with a gas stove. I must say that the appliances were not of high quality, but they sufficed. A lot of food was cooked on that gas stove as I fed the men who worked for us. My biggest problem at the time was having room to seat all of them in my small kitchen. If it was sunny and warm we ate out by the picnic table to alleviate the crowding. I also baked many things in that oven. I did not have to light the pilot each time either.
Our next move was to Hickory Heights. The kitchen in this old farm house had none of the amenities. There was a huge Home Comfort stove that burned wood. That was my sole stove for about eight months. Now, I had no experience burning wood. It presented a challenge, but I was equal to the task. I was determined to learn how to use it since there was nothing else to cook with.
My only problem was firing it up to cook lunch, then getting it cool off enough that I felt comfortable leaving it unattended when I drove our son to afternoon kindergarten. That fall I even canned some green tomato mincemeat, as well as applesauce and jelly.
The oven was another story. It was tricky to keep the fire burning at a consistent temperature long enough to bake something. Either it got too hot or it cooled off. I did not even attempt to make cookies, but I did bake cupcakes to celebrate both of the children's fall birthdays.
In the spring the Home Comfort was moved out so we could remodel the kitchen. I made many one-dish meals in my electric frying pan and also used a hot plate. It should be noted here that this before the time of the microwave. Oh, they surely had some of the early models, but we did not have one.
When we looked for appliances my husband insisted on a gas stove because country electric was not very reliable at that point. I acquiesced although I was disappointed not to get the electric model I dreamed of. We bought a drop-in model that fit nicely into the corner of the kitchen. Incidentally, it had an electric ignition system for the burners and the oven so did not work if the power was out!
I did not complain. My stove worked and I could cook. I even set things on my Vermont Casting stove when it was fired up to keep things warm. Finally, the oven on my gas model gave out. The thermostat needed to be replaced. The repairmen told my husband that it would be cheaper to just purchase another stove.
This time I insisted on an electric stove. I even offered to purchase it myself. I chose one of those with a ceramic cooktop so that if something boiled over it did not disappear deep within the stove. Even though I now had an electric stove with a broiler unit I liked I found that country cooking did not lend itself to broiling. Baking my meat was much better because I could hold a meal almost indefinitely if my husband and the crew did not show up when I expected them.
I admit using an electric stove is tricky. You must remember that the burners stay hot long after you turn them off. I find I shut down my burner before what I am cooking is actually done. That way the food finished cooking on its own.
If the electric is off I do not cook. We eat fresh vegetables and fruit plus meat and cheese and manage very well.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org