Cooking up a Christmas miracle – Minneapolis Star Tribune

Cooking up a Christmas miracle – Minneapolis Star Tribune

“You’re the second person I’ve met in the last hour who didn’t have a stove,” the lady said. She was handing out samples of cheese at the grocery store and had noted that this cheese — which was made in Wisconsin, imagine that — had good meltability.

Well, that would be good to know if I could melt anything, but we’re stoveless, I explained. Whereupon she noted that her neighbor also is waiting on a stove. They’re all floating off a Los Angeles port.

As I noted in this space before, the previous stove’s delivery day came and went, because the item had not made its way across the vast expanse of America. Perhaps it had been riding a stagecoach and got waylaid by bandits in Wyoming. Perhaps it had never made it out of China. Perhaps if Nixon hadn’t gone to Peking and toasted Zhou Enlai in 1972, serious manufacturing would still be in the States, and I could drive down to the factory and pick one up. You know, just pay someone money and get a product, the way my dad wrote out a check for $82 to the hospital after I was born.

The patient and world-weary professionals at the appliance store found me another stove, and projected a delivery in three weeks. On that day, to my amazement, it arrived.

When the installers removed the 20-year-old range and looked at the hookups, it was like watching the scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” when they open the chest, and everyone’s face melts. Everything about the configuration was a horror, and it all had to be redone.

The installer was gas-certified, but he didn’t do electricity. I’d have to call an electrician. (Insert picture of a man with money flying out of his pockets.) The range sat in the living room until the electrician arrived.

The electrician explained that the new code required a GFI on the circuit board. That’s a Ground Fault Interrupter, and also a Great Financial Impact. New code: If the oven outlet was 6 feet from a water source, it had to have that GFI.

Why? Ranges have been in kitchens for, oh, I’d say a few years now. Do we have any data on the number of people who grab the range’s power cord with one hand while their foot is dunked in the sink? No? Do you have to redo my dishwasher circuit breaker in case I want to wrap myself in aluminum foil, climb inside and grab the heating element?

I’m pretty sure I said these things in a jocular manner, but he moved his body between me and the knife-block on the counter.

Last step was doing something to the oven to change something, if I can get technical for a moment. The electrician came over with a rueful expression: In the process of removing a bolt, it had snapped off, possibly because it was cross-threaded at the factory. OK, stuff happens; is it a big deal?

Well, it prevents the range from … what’s the best word? Working.

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