Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cooking Appliance Alternatives to an Oven

Hi everyone,

I am happy to report that Thermador finally came through with their promise to replace the broken part on my wall oven!  Over $700 was spent repairing this oven since 2007 (part of it paid by insurance), and I wasn't going to spend $400 more on a new circuit board.   This oven has been a lemon! 

However, it's tough finding an oven to fit in our wall spot.  Also, our oven cavity seems a lot bigger than others now on the market.  Therefore, I was hoping that Thermador would stand by their product. After faxing the bills to them, they said they would provide the relay part at no charge as a "Goodwill Gesture."

It was really upsetting when my appliance repair people called to tell me that the order request for the needed relay part came back "discontinued, with no alternative."  I called Thermador back.  Happily, they provided a whole new circuit board, which contained the needed part.  Yippee, I have my oven back, after a month!

Finally, installing the repair part!
The oven is still runnning about 35 degrees lower from the set temperature, so the repair people have been contacted.  But it's been so much fun making a bunch of dinners and goodies again!  An oven makes life so much easier and enjoyable.

Without an oven for a month, I was forced to think "out of the box."  :)     Here's what was used:

Toaster oven:  The oven quit just before I was going to make bagels!  After making a starter and making the dough, I wasn't going to let the dough go to waste.  I made a number of phone calls to King Arthur Baker's Hotline that day.  Amy helped me out, and I baked these yummy "pretzels.:

"bagel pretzels"

I baked two HBin5 recipes on loaf pans; 

Dilled Rye with Whole Wheat

HBin5 Master Dough, Seeded top

A loaf pan worked ok to bake a raisin pecan bread. I had the dough in the fridge, and refused to toss it. If I turned the bread around halfway, it baked ok.

I baked a small chile relleno in a 9" x  9" pan, in the toaster oven.

Bread Machine, first foray into bread baking, 2007
 My bread machine (remember those?) 

Those square shapes, with the hole in the bottom, just bore me!  However, I was able to bake an Italian herb bread and my challah recipe.  I will keep it in the garage, as a backup.  It really came in handy.  I haven't bought bread in over a year, and don't plan to!

George Foreman Grill--Our friend, Eva, was downsizing her appliances a bit to gain room in her kitchen.  She was donating her George Foreman Grill and Slow Cooker to a charity rummage sale.  We did a little "pre-sale."  I made a donation to the charity in exchange for these items! 

We grilled steaks on the George Foreman Grill right after the oven broke.  We tried using the outside grille, but we can never seem to get the propane to work in colder weather.

Stovetop--made soup and sauteed chicken.

Microwave--especially good for quick warmups.  We prefer an oven, have seen reports of how microwaves change the chemical composition of foods (even water!).

Slow cooker!  I had only used a slow cooker for soups and stews some years ago.  Wow, I had really been underusing this treasure!  At first, I just made a bean stew.  But then I went to the library and found a few of the slow cooker books still were on the shelf.  Lucky me!  One of the books showed how to make so many dishes, including desserts, in a slow cooker:

'Old Fashioned Applesauce Cake with Walnuts"
From "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook"
by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann
I found several easy chicken recipes in the "Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker--Food Made Fast" cookbook.  The beautiful pictures made my mouth water!

"Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker--Food Made Fast"
by Norman Kolpas and Chuck Williams

I tried the Chicken Cacciatore recipe, and we loved it.  It was temping to just cook the whole recipe in the large fry pan--I was already using it to saute the chicken.  However, I am glad that I transferred everything to the slow cooker to cook on high for 4 hours.  The meat was incredibly tender!

Here is the Chicken Cacciatore, as I adapted it to our tastes.  The garlic has been  increased, and the salt was decreased.

Chicken Cacciatore, Slow Cooker
Adapted from "Williams Sonoma Slow Cooker--Food Made Fast"
Serves 4-6 (Made 2 dinners for us, plus enough chicken with sauce to serve over pasta).

1/2 Cup Flour

1/2 TBPS salt

1 1/2tsp. freshly ground pepper

A 3.5-4 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces

2-4TBSP olive oil

2 sliced Red Bell Peppers

1 sliced onion

6 cloves garlic

3/4 Cup Dry Red Wine

3/4 Cup Chicken Broth

28oz can Crushed tomatoes

1 TBSP dried oregano

8 oz. sliced mushrooms


Brown the chicken:
In a ziplock-type bag, combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces evenly with the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. It might be easier to do this in batches. In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the oil. Add the chicken pieces, in batches, if necessary, skin side down. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook on the second side until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken pieces to the slow cooker.

Cook the chicken and vegetables:
Return the frying pan to medium-high heat. Add oil if needed. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic and saute until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and broth to deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and bring to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on the high-heat setting for 4 hours or the low-heat setting for 8 hours.

Add the mushrooms:
About 10 minutes before the dish is ready, stir in the mushrooms. Season to tast with salt and pepper and serve.

Great with basmati rice or fettuccine.
A real bonus for slow cookers is that they don't heat up the kitchen, while providing a great dinner.  This willl come in really handy in the summer! 

I guess the silver lining to our oven's breakdown is that I learned how helpful these other appliances, especially the slow cooker, can be!

Thanks for visiting me today.  I bet you have had to "think outside the box at times."  I've heard stories of long kitchen remodels.  The prior owner remodeled this kitchen before selling this home, and they began eating out all the time.  When the kitchen was done, they never went back to cooking! 

What alternatives to the oven have you used?  I hope you will leave a comment below.


  1. Hi Judy, I understand your problem with having to think "out of the box" when your oven is on the blink. Mine took a dive a year ago. The heating element went & had to wait a month for it, as it was out of stock at the factory. Mine is Dacor. Luckily, I only paid wholesale price, so I bought two and was able to install the element myself.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. M

  2. I'm glad you've got your oven back. I have used a toaster oven, slow cooker, microwave and yes a bread machine also. The Williams-Sonoma book does have great pictures.

  3. You're lucky, Mary J, that you were able to install the heating element yourself! It's about $80 for every service call.

    I am hoping they will return to adjust the temperature on the oven. It's running about 35 degrees too cool. It makes a difference when you have to leave in an hour, think the casserole will be done, and it isn't!

    A good oven is truly a wonderful appliance, isn't it?!

  4. Elwood, I am looking forward to making that turkey breast recipe in "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker." I bet it's really moist!

  5. Judy, I don't have a local dealer. I have a stand alone 48 inch, 6 burner stove with oven by Dacor. The closest dealer is an hour and a half away by car. So, I have to repair this thing myself. My local dealer that I bought this from, closed its doors over 3 years ago. The repair people moved away too. I had hoped at least one of them would open their own repair shop here, but that didn't happen. Oh, well, at least most of the repair parts for this stove come in units that I can just plug in or replace using a couple screws. And besides, I enjoy doing the repair work if I can. I like doing mechanical things for the challenge. Anyway, Happy Baking!

  6. Great post! The bread machine was my first foray into bread baking as well. Still use it sometimes to mix the dough. Great ideas!

  7. So glad you finally got your oven fixed! When we were under construction and living in the basement I was without an oven for almost 2 yrs. You learn to adapt quickly, if you want good food and a nice variety!

    Love the Pretzel Bagels!!

  8. Thanks, guys!

    Wow, Michelle, no oven for almost 2 years? Hats off to you!

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.