Stupid Plastic Parts

When our son was a toddler, we purchased a new stainless refrigerator with side by side doors. I twitched as the child dented the front of it with various toys but I was still a proud parent of my new appliance. It took only a short time before bits and pieces began to dislodge themselves from my precious fridge. And then the glamor wore off.

Are you familiar with the little moveable parts on the front of the drawers that allow you to pretend you control the climate of your produce? They were the first to go. (Actually, first was a small mysterious bit which may have helped to hold the drawer face which dislodged three days ago.)

But several years ago, when the bottom frame which holds the produce drawers cracked, I was very annoyed. Yes there’s a metal frame across but the side joints are just plastic. Who thought designing the weight-bearing corner with plastic in a perpetually cold place was a good idea?

The nice lady on the phone first sent me the diagram of the fridge and this research gave me a part number. For $17, I got the part shipped. Then I replaced it myself. I also ordered a dryer element, which went up at Christmas two years ago, and then my husband replaced it. And there was that cap to the drying additive chamber in the dishwasher which I threw away. That was a $25 mistake.

Coffee makers have the same problems as refrigerators but for reverse reasons. The plastic hinges and vents for steam can only last so long before they too, under daily usage and stress, become crunchy and crack. The coffeemaker in the garage trash right now had the lid hinge break. I thought about just replacing the pot for my backup coffeemaker in the basement but for $15 more, I bought a new machine. And the replacement of the microwave got a whole blog post all to itself.

Soon, the alleyways will be lined with crunchy appliances tossed from their dusty roosts for their post-Christmas replacements. I love/hate my appliances but plastic is here to stay. I don’t have to like it and Repair Clinic dot-com is perfectly willing to let me order the part at all times of the day. And when it comes to me doorstep, and after guilt tripping my husband for an entire weekend, I’ll be putting it in myself. Maytag man be damned. Or putting a new one on plastic.

The Stove, She Is Fixed

When last I spoke of the stove, the story wasn’t going well. Sears had “messed” up. All their kiss butt customer service people couldn’t put it back together again. And I had given up hope. But not Mark (or Kathy). No. He was the picture of perseverance. He went online to a company called PartSimple who refurbishes parts. And ordered us up some rehabbed stove’s brains for $137, plus shipping. DSC01317


My Dandy Handyman

The part came on Tuesday. He said Thursday he’d put it in. I had waited this long. Today, Thursday, he began to install it only to find that he was going to have to disassemble the new Johnny 5 to swap a part of the part. So he practiced pulling it apart like an assembly line pro. Did you know the soldered component boards are called “bread boards”? He did. Bad soldering memories for him. But this only involved his leatherman.

And he stuck that bad boy in and…TA DA… As I no longer dared to hope…It worked.


Fiona says he’s her favorite Daddy

So I made roasted red potatoes tonight to go with my Faidley’s crabcakes and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers from the garden. And we may have to celebrate with a bottle of Smoking Loon Pinot Noir. Yippee. Here’s to my husband and boo hiss to Sears, you schmucks. I have my oven back no thanks to you. My friend Anne suffered the same fate with the same stove BTW.


I am glad my oven cleaning effort won’t go to waste

The beginning and end of the story, all appliances suck and are necessary. See Stupid Plastic Parts for more appliance breaking hilarity.


Messy Potatoes

Otherwise known as scalloped potatoes or Gratin Dauphinoise, messy potatoes are my favorite ‘go to’ potatoes for a side with dinner.

I have a mandolin. It’s a vegetable cutting guillotine that’s perfect for slicing potatoes thinly. Unfortunately, and no surprise here, a plastic part exploded rendering the guide useless. So I am back to using my knife skills, which are pretty decent, while I decide the de Buyer’s fate. I suspect it was bought from Wiliiam-Sonoma. And I have issues with them. I have yet to write that story but it’s a doozy.


My recipe is a simpleton’s version. But let me first share the comment and recipe from the Gourmet Cookbook.

“The scalloped potato dish is part of our culinary repertoire, and we hope it will be become part of yours too. There is something about the texture of the potatoes surrounded by creamy goodness and topped by golden brown cheese that wows people. It is perfect for a buffet supper or potluck: in our experience, it is the first thing to disappear. The technique of starting the potatoes in a saucepan of half-and-half and ending them in a buttered gratin dish comes from masterful Jacques Pépin.”

Ironically, in the book written by Jacques and Julia, he went on about using chicken stock which his wife and daughter loved. So I tried it. And it sucked.

Here’s the recipe from the Gourmet magazine for

Gratin Daupin(oise)

2 1/2 pounds  boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold (I use Yukons too)

3 1/2 cups half-and-half

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère

Cut the potatoes, heat dairy product, add spices, add potatoes. All in pan, blah blah blah, 35 to 45 minutes in a 400° oven.

Here’s what I do differently. I use 2% milk, lots of butter, and sometimes I sauté onions first in my cast iron skillet before adding everything else, heating the milk and potatoes and butter with the potatoes and salt and nutmeg, and then throwing the whole thing in the oven to bake.There’s no separate buttered pan and there’s no loads of pepper and garlic. I do not add cheese to the top but sometimes paprika.

  And when the milk is gone and the top is brown, it’s done

And the reason they’re called messy potatoes at our house is because the skillet is trashed and usually “soaks” in the sink for two days before someone is brave enough to clean it.  Enjoy this veggies eaters and meat eaters alike.





Daggone Appliances

Last Saturday morning, my microwave committed hari kari. I punched the go button and it yelled at me. I yelled back. Stupid microwave. Turns out, the date on the inside said 2003. Really? I could not believe it had been almost eight years since I bought it. It was older than my six year old. It looked good still. Not like all the other disposed of microwaves in the world.

I couldn’t stand the gaping hole in the cabinet. So I drove a long way to get a new one from Sears. I looked for the same one and purchased its current equal, paying an extra twenty five dollars for the stainless steel version. I got it home and wouldn’t you know, it was a half inch larger in every direction. All fine until the up direction which forced me to remove the shelf above.

And I still had minutes to spare for “operation replace microwave” until I notice that the plug was different. Where the previous plug was straight, this one was the right angled kind. The kind that lays flat behind the appliance. Fine if the receptacle is located behind the appliance. But we’d stuck it above the cabinet where the cord had to snake through holes in the shelves. Holes that were too small now. In ten minutes, I’d drilled holes and taken my jigsaw in an unkosher fashion to open those holes up and accommodate the right angly plug. I was just in time to meet the school bus outside the house.

Today I broke the carafe to my coffee pot. That’s what I get for having a cast iron sink And I wasn’t really in the mood to be domestic as I went to wash the pot out for tomorrow. In fact, I usually let my husband do that since he makes the coffee being the first one up. Don’t clean the kitchen angry. I pitched a fit as I went down to fetch the old coffee maker from the basement. Us coffee addicts are always prepared. I even had an extra carafe for the old coffee pot. Fat lot of good it does me with the pot I broke today.

Husband suggested looking online for a new carafe. Not a bad idea considering that’s the way I’ve replaced a part for my refrigerator (plastic parts holding the weight of two crisper drawers is a design flaw) and the heating element to our dryer that went out on the day after Christmas, of course. My visiting sister dried the last of her clothes, the dryer broke, and she said adios. Husband wedged himself behind the dryer and took out the twenty hex head screws to discover the manual inside and directions that had him opening up the front of the machine, of course.

The dishwasher gave it up two years ago. And the water heater was replaced nine years ago. The oven and clothes washer are both almost six years old. Which appliance is the next up for catastrophe? Adjustable expectations may be the only way to save yourself. Always expect the Spanish inquisition.