Thursday, June 26, 2008

Interesting Facts, Part III - La Cuisine

French ovens cook in Celsius.

Our oven was not actually hooked up and working until I was away in the US and since I have been back I have been cooking on the stove top and had no need to venture into the realm actually inside the oven. Well all this changed yesterday. In the quest to become Healthy Susan (translate drop a few pounds/kilos for the wedding) I have been cooking a lot of boring things on the stove top and eating cereal since Cyr is out of town. I don't mind eating the same thing a few days in a row so I went out and bought a package of chicken breasts and thought I would bake some mustard chicken. Pas de problem right? Non...

It started off well. I had all four ingredients out; chicken, salt, pepper, mustard and even a nice clear Pyrex thingy to cook it in. Once I have used my top secret and highly complex method of applying the mustard, salt and pepper to the chicken I then go to preheat the oven. I do this after the coating because I decide I'll let it hang out and soak up the mustard while the oven warms up. I mean...I'm not actually going to prepare this early and let it marinate. It's just me so 5-10 minutes of marination works fine.

So I check out all the crazy knobs and opt for the one I think is just "bake". There are no words, just pictures of things (see photo) so I'm not sure, but I know I don't want a pizza, cake, bread or what looks to be a speedy snail to come out and I'm fairly sure that all the modes make heat occur in the oven. I end up going for the empty box on the right of the "0".

I try to set the oven to 350. It won't go over 250. What?! You mean to tell me that Cyr finally managed to get the oven to fit in the space, fixed the electrical outlet and the stupid thing is broken? That is just ridiculous. I keep turning the knob to the left but it won't move over 250. It will go down, just not up. So I keep it at 250 to warm up and look for the manual just in case. I don't want to hit an ejector seat button or something and blow the place up.

"Bing!" The oven is warm now, put the chicken in.

The good thing is that I actually picked the correct picture to bake on. Oh the sweet scent of victory... The interesting thing is that they have a chart with foods and suggested cooking times and temperatures. I look at the chart and most of the foods are at 200 for an hour or less. Huh? How the heck do they get anything to cook in under an hour at 200?

With my super spy-like grasp of the obvious I then notice the headings at the top of the graph. Degrees Celsius it reads. Holy seared chicken feathers Batman! That's not the smell of victory, that's the smell of mustard chicken!! I open the oven and a waft of very warm mustard scented air puffs out my hair and makes my eyes squint a little. The sides of the pan are a rich dark brown, the very same color (I'm sure) that mustard would be if you were to light it on fire. The chicken has been in for less than 10 minutes so it's ok. I turn the knob down to 190 and run to my trusty laptop to look up on the conversion calculator what the hell 350 F is in Celsius then set the oven to 175.

I should have taken a picture of the chicken, it was fabulous! The Pyrex also looked very nice with the burnt top portion. Like I had really done something!! My father would be so impressed!

I know many of you were hoping for (and expecting) a post here similar to my "Flaming Nacho" experience in my Houston house a few years ago where I was able to experience first hand what it is like to use a fire extinguisher, but alas I am (and have been for years) flame free. Watch out Rachel Ray, I'm cookin now. In Celsius.


Susan and Simon said...

LOL. You should just be thankful your oven temperatures weren't just mysterious numbers from 1-9 as French ovens often are. Fortunately Australia went metric in the '70s, when I was young enough to become fluently 'bilingual'. Just as well, as in the UK, which although nominally metric now, in many sectors only lip service is paid to the newfangled Frogspawned measuring system, so I am always converting in the kitchen and on the road.

Susan said...

Oh my gosh, I don't know what I would have done if there were only 1-9, that's nuts! I mean seriously, between the language and the metric system there is a lot of stuff to absorb!