Those of who who know me well understand that I have this crush on my old stove. Circa 1941, my Occidental Electric last lived in a dusty old Barn here at Annadel before we rescued her.
Only two burners work regularly, sometimes only one on really cold days and gas has trouble reaching the house. Plus, the whole left hand side of the stove has been converted to storage. But I love her. Even though she is starting to split from modern kitchen use (hours of simmering for my Coq Au Vin anyone?) and countless cups of tea, I like to think she is happiest belching away in the kitchen, helping me feed my family and warm the bellies of visiting friends.
Because this stove is my partner in crime. My one true constant as I’ve experimented and learned and grown on this culinary odyssey of mine. And now Anni’s. She’s my right-hand girl brave enough to simmer curry or explore French casseroles or perfect baking bread.
But lately, the Old Girl has been showing signs of true exhaustion. An irregular, slight gas leak of which we can’t find the source. The ominously growing split in the enamel on the upper left. And the worst of them all: failing to hold a consistent baking temperature. I’ve baked some disastrously flimsy chickens in the last few weeks — twice with important guests. Yuck! There is no doubt about it, the Old Girl needs some mechanical love. A full servicing back to her pre-war glories.
But on cold days like today, when we come home from holiday travels and the house reads 9’C even now — that’s a sweltering 48′ F! — as the heat has been shut off, the old stove kicks on and helps heat the kitchen old school. Even if I can see my breath everywhere else — and that includes braving the ice-box toilet seats with frigid cheeks — I trust the Old Girl is gently warming the old horse-hair and plaster walls, getting ready to help roast some chicken and wilt greens tonight with sauteed garlic and olive oil… I can’t help but think fondly of her and imagine her seven decades of life. How many families she fed, cookies baked, and kitchens warmed on cold nights just like tonight.
Tonight, I wish I could hug her. Without burning myself, I mean. But that’s the romantic in me I guess…