Here I am, in the midst of unpleasant visitations, with tortured slumbers, and heaving stomach, and all of a sudden I discover that I cannot turn off the back right burner on my cooktop. As it is a gas burner, this is a worry. Well, I suppose even if it were electric it would be a worry. We managed to turn it off, and next morning I rang, or started to ring people to try and get it fixed. After being advised that I should contact the service department of the manufacturer, I rang them and was transferred to a firm which does all their service work, and I have to wait until 23 December to get it fixed. I hope that if it needs a new part, they will bring it with them. How extraordinary to have to wait two weeks for a service call. The first thing they tell you is how much a service call, plus the first 15 minutes will cost…and the answer is plenty.
So I have covered the faulty burner and its control with foil and pasted up a note saying Do Not Use, crossed my fingers, and started to wait and to hope.
When I made the hideous error of moving here, the kitchen boasted a rather awful electric cooktop. You know, one of those which thinks it knows better than the cook. They switch themselves off and on. They ignore any attempts you make to regulate and control the heat. Thus any real control by the cook is impossible.
I used to make fudge, using a rather delicious recipe, which avoided sickly-sweetness with the addition of cinnamon. I also used to make toffee, and cocoanut ice. You could not make fudge or any other confectionary on this abortion of an appliance, which was obviously designed by a non-cooking man who had never taken the trouble to reflect upon the various applications and use of heat. It was impossible to dissolve sugar without it partially boiling, no matter how careful you were, and as anyone with a bit of nous knows, if sugar boils before all the crystals are dissolved, the whole mixture recrystallise as soon as it cools. A simple rule of chemistry, eh?
In the olden days, and even now, recipe books failed to give such elementary information. Indeed, I remember reading the advice that if home made jams or preserves smelt or looked funny, never to taste them, just to chuck them out straight away. They never said why, and thus most omitted to warn the hapless cook/reader of the toxicity and dangers of botulism, which is likely to be fatal if tasted. Now, of course, it seems that botulism is every female celebrity's best friend. O tempora, or mores. Being a dedicated, not to mention compulsive researcher, I quickly discovered the reason to avoid tasting suspect looking/smelling preserves, and thus have survived to transmit the warnings. I like to know why is it so.
You could not cook a stir-fry dish on electric hotplates either, because the hotplate kept deliberately cooling itself down. Evidently it understands only the concept of the average temperature. (With the gas one, you can cook a stir fry: the only problem is that it invariably sets off the smoke alarm, and that is likely to trigger a heart attack.)
After several years of putting up with this rubbish, I managed to get the gas cooktop installed and have been a much happier cook ever since, although I stopped making fudge because eating it makes you put on weight. This happens anyway without eating fudge, I regret to say. Especially if you binge on peppermints, as I am wont to do.
However I am presently in a phase of not eating sweets – with me it really is either total binging or total abstinence, and what with all the stress, anxiety and sick feelings, some weight has actually fallen off. Which goes to show that every cloud has a silver lining, so to speak.
Why cannot we have silver linings without the horrid black clouds?