July 26, 2014

Disposable Appliances?

It’s a complaint of a generation – “They don’t make ‘em like they used to” It seems that appliances, both large and small, fall into that category. Mark Kinsler shares his take on this in his own home with their latest crockpot:

We immediately learned its fatal flaw, which was it smelled just horrible. I’m an old electronics repairman, and whenever my spouse was cooking beef soup, I’d start looking for faults in our electrical wiring. The new crockpot, all stainless steel and dark ceramic, smelled like a streetcar motor with a burned-out armature winding, and despite the assurances of the factory that the rich aroma would dissipate with use, it did no such thing.

The last straw came two days ago, when my beloved was cooking barbecued chicken. The entire house smelled as if we’d been grilling roulades of printed circuit board, and as good as the finished chicken was, our eyes would burn when we walked into the kitchen.

Ultimately, as so often happens, we gave up. Feeling vaguely disloyal, we shopped yesterday for Crockpot III, one which we hoped had been improved since they manufactured Crockpot II. We found a nice new one with slick electronic controls, an oval shape and a clear, tempered glass lid that lets you watch things simmer. Thirty bucks.

It’s all a bit disappointing, though. In another era, one in which appliances were expensive and somewhat repairable, I’d have taken the old crockpot, drilled out the rivets, found some nichrome wire and some sort of ceramic core and wound a new heating element. Matter of fact, were I actually living in such an era I’d probably still have my little repair shop and I’d have done exactly the same thing for other crockpots.

But we live in 2009 USA, and so we will just go on being materially wealthy in a world where everyone has a color TV with a remote control and a cell phone that takes pictures whether you want it to or not, which is why I have a lot of pictures of the inside of my pocket, and where you can buy appliances without having to save up for them.

She has processed a test-load of baked apples in Crockpot III, and now the kitchen smells like apples, with nary a hint of microprocessor flambé.

And I am grateful: for baked apples, Natalie and even our era.

Here’s my quick barbecue chicken recipe for the crockpot:

Place 4 potatoes cut in quarters, 5-6 peeled and cut carrots and one onion, quartered, in the bottom of your crockpot. Place a chicken, cut up however you prefer, on top and add one bottle of barbecue sauce and half a bottle of beer.

Cook for about 8 hours on low or 5 hours on high, depending on how well done you like your chicken. It’s hard to overcook this dish.