Sunday, June 20, 2010

Appliance fail

Despite the fact that I move a lot, I don’t really like being in transition. I know there are people who thrive on chaos but, despite all indicators to the contrary, I am not one of them. I like structure, routine, making lists, all those things. I like having a place for everything and knowing that everything is in its designated place. (Note that in a box, in a container, on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean does *not* count as a designated place.) During my long, long stay in the serviced apartment, I daydreamed about the day when I would be puttering in my own kitchen, putting homemade stock in my own freezer, baking cakes in my own oven with my own pans. All my stuff would be unpacked, neatly arranged, easily accessible, and working smoothly in harmony with the array of gleaming appliances that would come with my house.

Notice how I neatly skipped over the part where I got myself situated, figured out where to put all the stuff, and learned how to use everything?

We officially took possession of this house on June 1. Since then, my interactions with standard household equipment have been as follows:

June 1: Go to local Giant Housewares Store to buy items absolutely necessary for inhabiting house (bed, fridge, that kind of thing). Get desired washer/dryer set on sale at a ridiculous price. Find out that they are back ordered and cannot be delivered until June 17.

June 4: Giant Housewares Store delivers items (other than washer/dryer) purchased June 1. Delivery guys cannot get fridge into kitchen because of old-fashioned swinging door that they are afraid to remove. They assure me that, once door is removed, I will be able to get fridge into kitchen with no difficulty.

June 7: Having Googled directions for removing door, DP and I get it out easily. After having removed various and sundry parts of fridge and risking damage to it, the doorframe, and ourselves, we determine that the fridge will not, in fact, get through the door without drastic measures being taken. We plug it in in the dining room.

June 8: Return to Giant Housewares Store to select replacement “custom-size” fridge. (“Custom-size” means that the smaller version of the style I want costs another $1,000, and that I end up getting the one style I didn’t want. To add insult to injury, it won’t be delivered until June 17, along with washer/dryer.)

June 10: Move last load of stuff from apartment to house and begin unpacking, checking phone line regularly to see if service and internet have been switched on as scheduled.

June 11: More than 24 hours after phone service scheduled to turn on, repairman arrives at house and informs me that the reason we still have no phone service is that all of the phone lines in the house but one have been cut. The only working jack is behind the TV set. Repairman gets phone working. I bake a batch of congo bars to distract myself and test out the new oven while he works. After he leaves, I discover there is still no internet.

June 12: Turn on oven to preheat to bake DP’s belated birthday cake. After several hours, a smashed bottle of maple syrup (collateral damage), a call to Sears and a crying fit, determine that the oven is on, but no longer producing heat. Become convinced that if I could “re-boot” the oven’s electronic control panel, I could get it working again. Beg DP to help me pull the oven out but, despite our best efforts, we cannot reach the plug. Throw congealed cake batter away and watch Heathers on (miraculously working) cable.

June 14: On the verge of cancelling my ISP contract, my internet finally starts working—four days late. Also manage to connect gas bottle to the grill and get it to work. Wonder if my luck might be changing. Feel sure it is when return home after school pickup and see the oven clock flashing. We’ve had another power outage—Nature’s re-boot! Just as I suspected: the oven starts heating up again.

June 17: Return of guys from Giant Housewares Store with, at last, washer/dryer and replacement fridge. Discover that I forgot to inform GHS that my dryer plug is a four-prong, so they can’t plug it in; also that I am responsible for hooking up water supply to fridge icemaker. Fridge is out of dining room at last; occasional horrible grinding noise as it tries and fails to make ice seems a small price to pay. Go to hardware store for four-prong electrical cord.

June 18: Manage to hook up four-prong electrical cord without electrocuting self or blowing up house. Dry first load of laundry. Emboldened by success, try to hook up fridge water supply, only to discover that, of course, the water supply to this copper coil that’s been sticking out of the kitchen floor all this time is turned off. Also discover that I can’t turn it back on until I go back to the hardware store and buy a ladder….

Phew! I think that brings us up to the current state of affairs. I’ve spared you my endeavors to unearth or buy the necessary convertors to make my British and Australian appliances work. And my failure (so far) to set up a wireless network inside the house. And my ongoing battle negotiation with the oven about what, say, 400F actually means.

Adapted from smitten kitchen
I made these earlier this week, planning to bring some to a playdate and share the rest among my lovely new neighbors. As you can see from the picture, I had to default to Plan B: take the one tray that didn’t scorch to the playdate, and plan to bake again on the weekend.

Preheat oven to 400F/200C.* Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together and set aside:

2¾ cups/330 g all-purpose/plain flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Cream together until fluffy:

2 sticks/240 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups/315 g sugar

Mix in:

2 large eggs
sifted dry ingredients

When all ingredients are thoroughly combined, you should have a soft, thick dough. You can either refrigerate it to firm up, or immediately form into balls about 2 in/5 cm in diameter. Roll each ball completely in a mixture of:

¼ cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon**

and set on baking sheet, leaving about 2 in/5 cm between cookies.

Bake for 10 minutes, rotating trays halfway through. Keep an eye on the cookies; you don’t want to see any real browning on them, and it’s hard to tell through the cinnamon. They should be puffy in the middle, spread out, and the cinnamon-sugar crust have cracks in it. After removing from oven, let cookies cool on tray for 3-5 minutes, then remove to rack to cool completely.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on how big you make them.

* Make sure that the bottom rack is not too close to the bottom of the oven and, if in doubt about how hot your oven runs, consider lowering the temperature to 375F/190C.

** The original recipe called for 2 Tbsp cinnamon, which I thought was overkill. I think the proportions here are good.


Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh Nancy. I was exhausted just reading this with you. :(

I hope everything's in working order soon...

Sparkly Em said... Best Blogger Tips

There is no such thing as too much cinnamon!

Sigh, sounds like you have been through the ringer, but hey, come on, you are a seasoned traveller, continent mover and house squatter extraordinaire. This should be like water off a ducks back! :-)

And i expect to see less burned cookies next time ;-)

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Celia, thanks for the sympathy; I've got some momentum going now, and successfully baked a cake yesterday--my first since December! So it's all good.

Em, sometimes the duck has to do more paddling to stay afloat than other times!

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