High Desert Hoofbeats
Kitchen comforts...
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Jan 09, 2014 | 444 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
My kitchen range got a huge workout at the end of this holiday season. Even after New Years I had both the large and small ovens going full blast, along with my new food dehydrator and electric kettle.

Strange, you might say, if you’re familiar enough to know that my favorite place is not the kitchen. But it was the only room to stay warm Saturday morning when we woke to realize that our heating system hadn’t been working since the previous afternoon, and that standing in front of the ovens with the doors open was the best way to take the chill off the room. A quick pot of tea poured into mugs was the best way to warm the hands, and a decision to crank up the dehydrator with its second load of apples was another appliance that could emit some heat while it worked.

We live in an all-electric house, mostly by choice but also because there are no gas lines to it. We have an infrequently used propane tank that fuels a gas log and gas stove, but those fake fires hadn’t been fired up in over a year and they didn’t want to start. So we put on several layers, stood in front of the ovens and called the service guy for help.

Hours later we got the prognosis: Something in our complex system that uses thermal wells from outside and goes on to heat water-filled tubes in our radiant heat floors was blown, and it would be several days before it could be fixed. I mentally reviewed the last weather forecast I’d seen, and noted that the coming days might actually get above freezing, and that the nightly lows might stay in the double digits. “We can handle this,” I thought, noting that the polar vortex predicted for the eastern two-thirds of the country was not expected to affect us. Instead of being really, really cold, we were only supposed to be pretty cold.

It has been an interesting experience trying to keep the house comfortable while the furnace mechanism is out. I’ve noticed that just the act of taking a shower or bath puts warmth into the air, as does running the dishwasher with hot water. Although I am just getting familiar with different ways to use my new dehydrator, I’ve noticed that it lets off a crazy amount of heat, so if I want to dry fruits late next summer when it’s hot outside, I might want to put the dehydrator outside too so that it won’t heat up the house then.

We’ve purchased a couple of space heaters to supplement the ovens and gas fireplaces, and the house is currently hovering around 60 degrees, with the kitchen being one of the most comfortable areas. Not bad compared to the unseasonably unbearable conditions that the Midwest and East Coast have endured this week. I’m just thankful that the vortex didn’t come our way.

I have worried a little about the lengthy wear on my ovens, and whether they can handle this sustained use with the doors open. But I figure that the neglect I’ve given them over the past few years might make up for their current overtime work. I often get teased about how little time I spend in the kitchen, but the mechanical vortex that happened with our heating system just goes to prove that ovens are essential appliances even in my house.

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