Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ode To An Oven

I have spent the past week without the use of my wall unit oven and I lament its' functionality. Coincidentally, the festival of Fornax, the Roman goddess of the hearth and baking, occurs before the day of my birth in February. When my oven failed to turn on, I rang up the customer service number for the Total Protect Home Service Plan. It encompasses the repairs of all appliances in my home, for a deductible fee per claim, as well as an annual membership that was offered through the mortgage company. They contract out a service company to assess and repair the non-functional appliance with the condition that if it can not be fixed,then Total Protect will replace it for a comparable value. The "if- it-sounds-too-good-to-be-true-it is" mindset applies here.

 A "service technician" from Sears arrives at my home and determines that the oven's ignitor needs to be replaced. He performs the task and leaves the premises. Upon turning the oven on, I perceive the smell of propane gas in the air. My household utilizes propane to heat hot water and to power the kitchen's stove-top and oven. The natural state of propane gas is odorless, so essence of skunk (I kid you not)  is added to enable the olfactory detection of this highly combustible utility. I place a call to the propane company and their service man deems the situation dire, so he shuts off the valve and "red tags" the oven. He advises that the potentially explosive situation is a violation of federal law and that the oven must be repaired (again) and then re-inspected by him before it can be used again.

  I call the Total Protect company to make them aware of the situation and their response is to send another Sears "service technician" (from a Sears affiliate company, upon my request that the incompetant one not return to my domecile). He arrives and can not service the oven because he can not locate a model number on it. I place a call to the retailer from whom the oven was bought five years ago, in the hope that they still have the purchase order information. They do, and I then call the model number in to the department that handles the claim. I also call Sears to file a complaint about the initial repair attempt that resulted in a potential disaster. Yesterday, Sears again sends repairman #2 to my home and he consequently informs me that it is "against company policy" for him to work on an appliance without "both" the model and serial number : the latter is not discernable at this point in time. So, I phone Total Protect to express my ire and am told by a "senior manager" at the "customer care center" that another appliance repair company will be dispatched to repair the oven : at no additional deductible fee (such a huge concession ; peppered with apology).

   In today's post, a statement for the "red tag-installed service" to the oven from the propane company arrives : it's a bill for $133.32. The man shut off a valve and hung a safety tag on the oven door to elicit a fee that resulted from the damage that was done by Sears repairman # 1. I place another call to Total Protect to ask for fair and equitable compensation of said encumberance. Their position is that Sears is licensed and insured to contend with this damage claim and I am then connected to a third party administrator for Sears. Their rep queries me with the particulars and then tells me that I will be subsequently contacted by an "examiner" for this claim ; in 24 to 48 hours' time. Meanwhile, I await the arrival of repairman # 3, upon the morrow in the hope that "three" will be the "charm" for repairation of my Magic Chef oven!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Black Magick Brownies

 Don't be put off by the title, as this recipe can,of course, be made without the inclusion of a bewitching intention...or not.  Actually, the dark, magickal ingredient is the black coffee addition to the batter. Either way , who ever eats of these brownies will be enamoured of their creator. I have baked many batches of this quintessential, chocolate confection and so shall you, if you endeavour to try it!  Prepare a pan a day ahead of time to deepen the flavour, and use a heart-shaped cutter* to make a decadent, Valentine's Day delight!

                                Ingredients :
  •   one scant cup of King Arthur all-purpose flour 
  •   one quarter teaspoon baking soda
  •   one quarter teaspoon salt
  •   two thirds of one cup of organic cane sugar
  •   six tablespoons of butter
  •   two large eggs
  •   one twelve ounce package of Nestle, semi-sweet chocolate chips
  •   three tablespoons of cooled, black coffee
  •   one teaspoon pure vanilla extract
                                 Preparation :
  1. Preheat oven to 325*F : all ovens are calibrated differently,so adjust accordingly.           
  2. Butter a nine inch square baking pan** : set aside.
  3.             In a mixing bowl, stir together the first three dry ingredients.
  4.             In another larger bowl, add the vanilla extract to the chocolate chips.
  5.             Put butter,sugar, & coffee into a heavy-bottomed pan ; stir together til it begins to boil.
  6.             Blend the hot mixture with the chocolate chips and stir to combine well.
  7.             Add the eggs and mix thoroughly.
  8.              Stir in the flour mixture.
  9.              Spread batter into buttered baking pan.
  10.              Bake for about 30 minutes ; til just set.
  11.             Cool and cut into squares or shapes.
                      Notes :  * Dip the cookie cutters into cocoa powder before cutting out shapes,for ease of removal.
                                   ** Shiny, aluminum pans bake the most evenly : dark-coated or glass ones will over-bake this recipe. Use American-made, high-quality pans like Nordic Ware for the best results.