Monday, December 28, 2009

Need a Washday Miracle

Mrs Elliott and I hosted a holiday party at our house last night for the volunteers who contribute their time at KPOV-LP (106.7). (With the exception of two full-time employees, everyone else at the station is a volunteer: the radio hosts ["disc jockeys"], engineering staff, office staff, web master, fund raisers, and all the other folk needed to keep a radio station legal and operating 24 hours a day providing Central Oregon with its most eclectic and interesting music and commentary are volunteers.)

The party was a lot of fun; about 40 people showed up. And apr├Ęs-party cleanup isn't proving to be too bad with the exception of the baking pans for the lasagna. Devores market on Newport Ave. stocks these delicious hand-made lasagnas (just heat and serve) which come in heavy 9'' x 12'' Pyrex glass baking pans. We bought four of them for the party.

There is a$12 deposit required per pan, so we've got $48 worth of deposit coming back when we return them.

Being unclear on the subject of bakeware etiquette, I'm presuming that it would not be appropriate to return them all crusted with lasagna leavings. So I'm trying to make them squeaky-clean.

Which is turning out to be a more difficult job than I expected.

The facts are these:

I figured the oven would have a difficult time heating four big cold lasagnas (two on upper rack, two on lower rack) evenly, so after sliding them into the hot oven and closing the door, I turned on the oven's convection blower, figuring this would keep the air inside moving and equalize the temperatures.

This was, of course, merely theory: I've never owned a convection oven. To me, ovens have two settings: "bake" (bottom heat), and "broil" (top heat).

But if you can't experiment on guests, who can you experiment on?

The instructions called for baking for an hour and a half at 350 degrees for one thawed lasagna, but since these were barely above freezing (we kept them overnight in our walk-in cooler, aka the "garage") I reckoned it might be more like 2 hours before all four would be ready.

I could see that I was running into trouble when I opened the door at the halfway point to check the internal temperatures of the upper and lower lasagnas to see how evenly they were heating. The inside of the lasagnas were only about 100 degrees, too cool, but the tops were heading toward deep brown leathery finish indicative of burnt territory.

I turned down the heat to 300 and turned off the convection fan so the food could continue to heat without further browning the tops, and I was able to rescue the meal that way. However, unbeknown to me, the cheese had welded itself to the glass with an incredibly tough lacto-silica bond, clearly more tenacious than the stuff that NASA uses to bond the heat-shield tiles to the space shuttle.

After everyone left, I scraped what could from the pans, and left them to soak overnight in hot detergenty* water.

I was greeted this morning by a sinkful of what looked like cold minestrone soup. And a lot of scrubbing to do.

I've managed to get the pans pretty clean, but there are some spots where no amount of scrubbing with Scotch-Brite will clean.

This is going to require chemistry and power tools.

I worry that if I return the pans in less-than-clean condition I will be blacklisted at Devores forever, necessitating the need to don a false mustache and use an assumed name if I ever want to lease some more bakeware.

I should also probably read the manual for the oven to find out what the convection function is meant to be good for.
* We say "soapy," so why can't we say "detergenty"? Soap and detergent are two different things. The first does not necessarily lift grease and oil, the last does.


  1. A very happy New Year to Jack Elliott and the patient and long-suffering Mrs. Elliott!

  2. To clean use a used dryer cloth (if you use them) and let it soak. They do wonders!!


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