Sunday, August 06, 2006

There are two kinds of men in this world: those who have someone to clean the oven for them, and those who do not. It is for the latter that I write this blog entry, tentatively titled “The Bachelors Guide to Oven Cleaning.”

First, a little history… Man learned to cook over fire tens of thousands of years ago. This was a really good arrangement because the fire was in an open area so any smoke or grease or debris would simply float off into the air or be incinerated by the flames. The only clean up involved would have been perhaps burying the ashes before an attractive cave woman came for dinner.

Somewhere along the line we lost our way and decided it made more sense to cook indoors with electricity. While this does have some benefits on cold and rainy days, it also comes at a price. All that grease and smoke and debris now go nowhere. They stick to the inside of your oven, seemingly never to be removed. In fact, I have it on good authority that NASA is developing a technique to bake chicken grease onto the outside of the space shuttle to protect it when it re-enters the earth's atmosphere.

Now, before you go and do something rash, take a step back and think to yourself, “Do I need to clean my oven?” (I know I didn’t have to tell you that.) In order to assist with this pondering, I have come up with a series of questions to help you make up your mind.

Question 1:

Is my landlord coming in the near future to do a move-out inspection?

OK, if you answered yes to any of these questions, you should strongly consider cleaning your oven. (If you have just recently moved into a place, you may want to consider not using your oven at all.) If you answered no, or you are unsure, DO NOT clean your oven at this time. Stop reading this guide. Go get your golf clubs, and play a round of golf, or head down to the pub for a pint, or do anything else you enjoy.

If you answered yes, I know the pain you are facing and I am here to help.

The first thing you need to do is block off a few hours of time. Make sure that this is not the weekend for the Masters, or the Indy 500, you will never get this project done otherwise.

You may think that cleaning the oven is like washing your car or doing the dishes. A little soap and water and a quick rinse and you’re done. If you think this, you are wrong. I tried this method and it didn’t work. I did not try a belt sander, but I am pretty sure it wouldn’t work either. For this project you need something extreme.

In this day and age, many of us are sensitive to the needs of Mother Nature. I hope that you all recycle, take shorter showers, don’t leave lights on when you aren’t using them, and generally do your part to help the environment. It helps to think about all these good things you have done when you walk down the cleaning products aisle to pick up a can of Easy Off. When you use this product, you are taking a huge withdrawal from the green bank, but I can tell you, nothing else works. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the Easy Off people who were behind the move from cooking over a fire to cooking in an oven. I will do some more research and write about my findings later.

Once you are home, I suggest you locate a gas mask and one of those fans the fire department uses to blow smoke out of buildings. Next, shake the can like you have never shaken it before, and then unload it on the mess in your oven. Make sure the insides are completely covered. The oven should look approximately like your freezer, which I know you haven’t defrosted since the day you moved in… but that is a problem for another day.

Now for the easy part: The foam takes at least 2 hours to work, so if you were not fortunate enough to be able to take your golf clubs and run or go for a pint at Step 1, you should go ahead and do that now. No need for you to completely suffer while the lucky guy who doesn’t need to clean his oven goes out and has the time of his life.

This next bit is very important. While you are out, you might get hungry. DO NOT buy rising crust pizza! This is definitely a KD day, or Campbell’s Chunky if you are particularly hungry. If you forget and buy the Delissio, it will not be OK to throw it in anyway. Call Pizza Hut and get some delivery.

Now the fun begins. You will need a bucket of water, a rag or two, a scrubby thing, and rubber gloves. The next part is truly a miracle, and nearly brought tears to my eyes. (Now that I think about it, it may have been the fumes from the Easy Off.) When you start to wipe away the white goo (which has likely become brown goo), the dirt and grease literally wipe right off. You will need the scrubby for a few tough spots, but for the most part it now takes no more effort than doing the dishes or washing the car.

I recommend starting with the oven door. It is easy to reach and gives you an idea of what’s involved on the inside. When you are finished with the door, you can start contorting yourself to clean the inside as I did. Within minutes your back will be screaming and you will be wondering if you shouldn’t have just bought a new stove. To make it easier on yourself, REMOVE THE OVEN DOOR! Before you run for the electric drill or the hammer, you should know this: apparently the Easy Off people, when inventing the oven, did think of one thing to make the whole process easier. The door just slides right out! It was a little disappointing that no tools were required, but I soon forgot all about that when I was able to reach the back of the oven without reviewing the Contortion Homepage.

Once you have cleaned up all the goo and rinsed the whole oven repeatedly as per the package instructions (in hindsight, a garden hose might have come in handy), it’s probably a good idea not to crack open the Delissio right away. Instead, keep the gas mask on and the fan blowing and turn on the oven. This instruction is not on the can. In fact, this may be the only place on earth where this technique is documented (and there may be a reason for that, but whatever). Let the oven get up to temp. Women reading this will be wondering what temp. I am sure I am not alone in wondering why ovens have a dial. They should just have an on off switch. Guys, you know what temp. If it seems to be taking an inordinate amount of time to heat up, look at the floor and make sure that you remembered to put the oven door back on (again, sadly no power tools required). Once it gets up to temp, turn the oven off and let it cool. There will be patches of white powder inside your oven. These areas indicate a failure of the product to rinse off properly. Get angry at Easy Off, not at yourself, and proceed to re-rinse. If you are paranoid about eating corrosive chemicals, repeat the process a few times. Otherwise, throw in that Delissio and start getting your oven dirty again.

For those of your fortunate enough to have someone to clean your oven for you, I hope after reading this guide that you will appreciate the effort they put into the job. Once you get back from the bar or the golf course, take them out for a nice dinner or buy them some flowers. If you are a guy that used this guide to help clean your oven, I know your pain and I hope that, like me, you will be moving into a much nicer place very soon.


Michelle said...

Oh My Goodness..

You Rock!! That was the funniest thing ever!!!


7:17 PM, August 06, 2006  
Joan said...

That was a really cute blog Andrew - you are definitely a multifaceted writer.

5:54 PM, August 07, 2006  
Matt said...

There is no point having an oven, i cooked a full english breakfast on the bbq the other day and it tasted good.

real good. and id do it again given half a chance

4:32 PM, August 14, 2006  
Andrew Baxter said...

I used to barbeque bacon... when I had a barbeque... and I loved it.

11:12 AM, August 15, 2006  
Heather said...

Okay that was hilarious!! And by 'a much nicer place' do you presume that it comes with an oven cleaner?!

4:53 PM, August 16, 2006  
Auntie Sue said...

I will think of you whenever I clean my oven from now on Andrew.
And I'll be laughing.

8:11 PM, August 20, 2006  

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