Behold the dead oven.* It died last August after 15 years of service, with three half-baked chocolate cake layers inside. (They were rescued and baked in the apartment, with the family racing up and down the stairs wielding oven mitts.) Since the life span of such an appliance is now pegged at 10-12 years, it didn't seem worth trying to fix.
Its new, almost identical replacement stands ready for a 14-pound bird in a few days. I've been roasting and baking like mad in sheer relief (muffins, biscuits, Cornish hens). Both the old one (a Maytag) and this one (Frigidaire) are gas wall ovens so basic (a mere $650, versus fancy ones for $2,000 and up) that the folks at Drimmers seem to hate to sell them. The little electronic keypad on this new one is even more annoyingly primitive than its predecessor's, but I wouldn't know what to do with a hybrid convection/microwave/proton accelerator oven anyway. So far, this one seems to be heating up fine.
Before we haul the old one to the curb* (nobody's recycling these babies into guitar picks or art projects), let us salute the 14 golden turkeys that emerged from this old metal box, along with hundreds of batches of cookies, countless muffins, and the occasional Roast Beast. And speaking of nostalgia, here's a goodie from E-bay: the 1939 Brooklyn Methodist Home Cookbook. It's a quirky volume of facsimile handwriting and assorted sketches (see turkey illustration, above). The page on "apples" lists several varieties now seldom seen, including Kings, Pippins, and Greenings; the uses for apples include "dumplings" and "jelly," two apps that few of us try anymore even with our convection-whatever appliances.
But time changes more than apples. The real shocker 70 years later is to be found in the cookbook's preface. During the home's 56 years, it states, "several hundred old people" from "70 different churches" have entered. "Almost without exception, those who seek the shelter of the Home are driven to such action by loss and bereavement so that ours is a mission of comforting the sorrowing and healing the broken-hearted." (They also listed their annual expenses at $51,750.)
I don't know how successfully the Methodists comforted and healed, but I love their blunt honesty in understanding and expressing their mission. Today's "nursing and rehabilitation centers" lard their mission statements with buzzwords about "quality care" and "wellness," but no one dares acknowledge the brutal truth, or attempt the task. This Thanksgiving, I will give thanks for apples and turkeys, for comfort, healing and home...and the warmth of an oven.
*Update a day later: Someone has hauled the dead oven off before we could put it out for the trash! Oh, thank you, stranger (and by the way, the igniter is busted)!