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Dear toaster oven, you complete me.

January 29, 2011

Ever since we moved to Vietnam, Jonathan has been missing toast. We don’t have a toaster or even an oven. (I’ve heard that even million dollar homes here don’t have ovens.) But, I’ve heard tales of glorious things (besides toast) that can be made in a toaster oven – cupcakes, breads, roasted chicken – just to name a few. Every time we go to the Metro we discuss getting one.

The problem is, our kitchen is so small and impractical. When we wash together it’s all elbows and ducking heads as we stand in a two-foot space – him washing and rinsing, me rushing to dry and put away before things get too piled up. It gets difficult when I have to open the cabinet in front of his face to put the stuff away to make room for the other stuff he’s washing. We couldn’t open the microwave if there was anything on the dish drainer. The last thing I wanted to do was add another appliance.

But, Christmas rolled around. We had a potluck dinner with some friends, and I wanted to cook the “Awesome Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing” that my ex-landlady, Molly Jones, made famous. (By the way, neither of us follow this recipe exactly, but it turns out amazing every time.) Most of the ingredients are cooked on the stove then mixed with toasted bread cubes so I figured I could handle it without an oven. On Christmas Eve, I hauled my pan of cubed bread 23 floors down to my neighbors’ apartment, and spent thirty minutes using their toaster oven preparing the bread cubes. It worked great.

Then it came time to combine everything and I realized, “This isn’t ever going into a turkey – normally the place where all the ingredients become a big, happy, close-knit stuffing family. If I had a toaster oven, I could probably put the whole pot in there and cook it. Plus, Jonathan could have toast and would be really happy.”

At this point, Tanya and I began investigating the kitchen. IF I were to buy a toaster oven, where could I possibly fit it? The pantry? Under the stove? On top of the microwave? We concluded that it was doable – somehow, so off we went to the Metro to buy Jonathan his toaster oven Christmas present. (Before you men laugh, he was truly pleased that I had bought it and uses it daily.)

We did a little rearranging. The microwave is now under the stove with pots piled on top of it, and the toaster oven took the dishes’ place on top of the refrigerator. We don’t use the microwave very often, so the only time the location bothers me is when something splatters inside and I find myself on my hands and knees trying to wipe it clean. Jonathan is normally the toastmaster, and since he is taller than I am that works pretty well.

 

 

Last night, though, I had carrots and cauliflower that needed cooking. The first suggestion google gave me was to roast them. Hmm… I remember my sister, Christine, making something similar (in a regular oven of course) and it being quite tasty. So, I chopped them up with some potatoes and onions and tossed it all with garlic, pepper, sea salt, and olive oil. After a trip to the store downstairs for some foil to cover it, I climbed on a chair and put it all in the oven.

 

 

It was a little precarious – standing on a chair, pulling the pan out far enough to life the foil to check if they were cooking right, later holding the pan with one poorly-insulated oven mitt while I tried to remove the foil with my other mitted hand, all the while trying not to think about the prospect of the whole thing spilling down on my bare legs – but the result was well worth it. We ate it with jasmine rice that was cooked with a little chicken broth in the water. Jonathan likes everything I cook, and tells me so, but this time, I even impressed myself.

I now anticipate our toaster’s future involving a lot more than toast. I hope it starts to feel much more fulfilled and useful in its little appliance life. After all, that is what we all want from life, isn’t it? Which of your appliances feels most needed and appreciated?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Debbie Tran permalink
    January 29, 2011 06:28

    My boyfriend thought it was so odd when I told him my new place has an oven. “Can you believe it… an oven!” I said. He mocked me, not knowing the trials of living abroad. If you’re ever in Hanoi again, I’ll bake ya something. 😉

    • January 29, 2011 08:22

      We take so many things for granted… The same goes for the dryer. I tell people back home I have one and get a blank stare in response. People here practically turn green.

      Right now I’ve only roasted veggies, but I think baking might follow shortly. Maybe you can just bake something and bring it down when you come in a couple weeks 😉

  2. karen permalink
    January 29, 2011 08:16

    My Lean Mean Fat Fighting Grilling Machine by George Foreman!!
    Can put a skinless, boneless FROZEN chicken breast on there, season it up and have a meal in no time.
    I am so enjoying your blog, hearing about everyday life, and all of your adventures there!!

    • January 29, 2011 08:24

      I love receiving your comments. They are why I keep writing 🙂

      If I can think of a place to put it, I might get someone to bring one over here. Of course, most of the chicken here is whole and has never been frozen in its life – so maybe I’ll wait til I get home.

  3. January 29, 2011 08:46

    This is what I did in my first apartment after I got married. I made everything in that toaster oven!

    • January 29, 2011 09:02

      It’s making me realize that I have so much to learn… I’m like your young jedi 😉

  4. Mary Holby permalink
    January 31, 2011 22:38

    FYI my first married life kitchen was smaller than yours. It had a 2 by 2 foot countertop between a stove and sink. It also featured a round top fridge. Opposite was a window that looked out into the tops of crepe myrtles.
    And a toaster oven . For toast. Cheese toast and cinnamon toast and garlic toast.
    You and I know an old couple in China whose housekeeper bakes birthday cakes in a toaster oven and yeast rolls too. It brings them much Western happiness. Just like you.

  5. Charity permalink
    February 6, 2011 14:04

    My coffee maker feels most appreciated!!!! 😉 But people (and myself) are amazed when I make yummy things come out of a regular oven… I don’t need the challenge of a toaster oven. God knows what we can handle. 😉 hehe

  6. February 10, 2011 13:35

    i don’t have a microwave so i use my toaster oven quite a bit — and yes, it also makes my toast!!

    =0)

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