Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Indulgence: A New Stove

Some people would call me "green": I tend to repair things instead of throwing them away, and I avoid buying disposable junk in the first place. My house is furnished in mid-90s estate sale, along with some antiques and good quality furniture I bought new in the 80s. I generally dry my clothes on a clothesline. (Really, I'm just cheap and lazy. Drying the clothes outside saves wear and tear on the clothes and the dryer, fixing the dishwasher and coffee maker was much cheaper and easier than running out to buy new ones, and so on.)

So I hesitated to replace my range, even though the burners didn't self-ignite anymore and the oven had stopped working. I looked up how to fix ranges on the Internet, but without an owner's manual, without diagnostic tools more sophisticated than my ohm meter, and without easy access to the stove's working parts, I didn't know what was wrong with it. (Contrary to popular belief, an engineering degree isn't much help when you need to repair something. Probably, people who are good at fixing things are more likely to get a degree in engineering than, say, French literature.) A repairman probably would have charged upwards of $200--and I'd have still had a range going on 30 years old. I decided to spend a few dollars more and replace it.

In its place is a gently used gas stove that I'm very pleased with. Its maiden meal was broiled pork chops and red bell peppers--pork chops too thick to have broiled properly in my old range. (The new range's broiler is at the top of the oven instead of the bottom: you can cook the food farther from the flame so that it doesn't burn on the outside and stay raw on the inside. And you don't have to get on your hands and knees.) The chops turned out tender and juicy and evenly cooked. The old range was hotter at the back of the broiler than the front. Since the oven stopped working months ago, I almost forgot how much I love broiled meat until I smelled those pork chops.

The AGEs (advanced glycation products) from cooking at a high temperature (around 500 degrees F) might concern some people, but I'll continue broiling my meat for two reasons. First, I love the taste. Second, haven't humans been cooking like this for a long time? Without pots and pans, wouldn't our paleolithic ancestors have skewered some meat on a sharp stick and held it over a flame?

If you're like me and willing to shave 30 seconds off your life to indulge in broiled meat, here's my recipe for broiled pork chops and red bell peppers.

1 pound pork chops, 1" thick
1 red bell pepper, sliced into 1" strips
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
olive oil

Mix balsamic vinegar, garlic and anise seed. Place pork chops in a dish and sprinkle with the vinegar mix, turning them over to coat them. Cover and let marinade for at least 30 minutes. Turn on broiler. Place pork chops on a broiler pan, along with the peppers. The rack should be 5-1/2" to 6" from the flame. (If you don't have that much space, butterfly the chops before marinading them.) Brush the peppers with olive oil. When broiler is hot, cook the chops and peppers for five minutes on each side. 

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