Friday, September 24, 2010

Gas Ranger

As far as I can recall, my whole childhood we had nothing but electric ranges and ovens. Places we lived in prior to my third birthday may not have been so modern, but I think that what matters is my memory. It seemed like the most natural thing in the world that there was a coil that was black in idleness and that became bright orange when roused into action. It gave no other indication that it was hot or dangerous, and stayed both hot and dangerous for a bit after being deactivated. You couldn't do anything with it except lay a pot or pan on it. Eventually I knew there was another kind of range, but seldom if ever had use of one except when camping. What we had then were a variety of portable gas cookers. They ran on various fuels, propane, butane and other more exotic gases being among them. It's a pleasant association I make with cooking via gas.

In recent years, I have lived in some places that had a gas range instead of electric. The difference is interesting. Having an open flame adds some utility to the thing. It's a whole lot easier to ignite something by touching it to a gas burner. Marshmallows are one possibility. One must be careful about it, of course, but about any common thing one might want to be on fire can be made so with a gas burner. I like that. That's not to say that I'm doing so willy-nilly. In fact, I suppose I haven't done so except for once I can think of about three years ago. It's just always nice to know that a certain option lay before you even if you don't ever make use of it. So it was until the final couple months with the swimming pool in my old place.

A gas range has its downside, of course. It seems to have a bit less precision regarding the heat level. I at least don't know how to control it especially well. Turning it very low seems to lose the flame. Keeping it high is wasteful and can lead to accidents that ruin food. I've been guilty of that enough on an electric range. I had just begun to learn how to efficiently and safely cook the rice that I was making almost every night. What knowledge I had gained that way has become almost entirely useless.  It's really too bad. The aesthetic distinction is neat, but practicality has me wishing for the electric range again except where my previous point is concerned.

Based on my very limited knowledge and experience in this matter, they're about equivalent. Someone with more applicable intelligence probably would be able to set me straight on innumerable points, so don't go making any decisions based on what I say. In the area of domestic cooking, I'm just a guy with more curiosity and impatience than sense or instinct. I'm in there turning knobs, pressing buttons and seeing what happens. This is what I've learned about ranges so far since I've been lucky enough to not suffer any fatal effects from my undisciplined experimentation.

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