Dangers and Joys of Spring Cleaning in Maine
Well, we still have a few little patches of snow on the ground here in Mahoosuc Mills, but the ice is breaking up on the river and the birds are chirping up a racket. Spring is in the air; you can just smell it. Time for you-know-what: spring cleaning. Saturday, Charlie and me decided to get to it. While he made himself busy with a dump run and putting the snowmobiles to bed, I took one look at our oven, and decided to start there.
If you bake a lot of fruit pies, like me, you know: they tend to drip juice. Then there’s sweet potatoes which ooze sticky goop. Frankly, my oven was at the point where I’d preheat it to bake something, and it would start to cook off some of that crud at the bottom. Then a little smoke would seep out the top of the stove and you guessed it: off goes the fire alarm. I’m not proud of this, but there you have it. Nothing dangerous, but close enough to be motivating.
Usually, I just tackle the problem the old fashioned way: elbow grease. Sure we got a self-cleaning oven, but somehow, in my heart, I don’t trust it. Every time I screw up my courage to use it, there’s a little part of me that thinks, ‘This is it. This is the day I burn down the house.’
But the oven was a real mess, and I says to myself, ‘Self, you can spend all morning scrubbing that oven, or you can flip a switch.’ I’m not stupid, I flipped the switch. Then I proceeded to worry the entire time the oven was doing its thing.
‘Cause it’s scary, really, how hot that oven gets in self-cleaning mode. And it burns hot like that for hours! I open the windows and run the fan. I keep putting my hand inside the cabinets on either side of the stove to make sure they’re not heating up. I just don’t trust it, is all.
So I kept one eye on the stove as I swept the crumbs from the bottom of the toaster oven and scrubbed it down. Boy, did it need it. That debris at the bottom had been threatening to catch fire for some time now.
Has that ever happened to you? You’re stumbling around in the morning, half-awake. You put your toast in the toaster oven, turn to pour yourself a cup of coffee, and when you look back, you see flames consuming your toast. That’ll wake you up real quick!
I also cleaned out the fridge, and found something weird at the back of one of the shelves. I studied the thing. Finally, I figured must have been ricotta cheese. See, I’ll be making a recipe that calls for six ounces of ricotta, which only comes in an eight-ounce container. I never use that extra two ounces, but somehow feel compelled to keep it ‘til it’s putrefied. It’s a one of the great mysteries of life.
So’s the fact that I really don’t do much all winter. You’d think the dark months would be a great time to catch up on some deep cleaning, but no. I just can’t get motivated. Then spring comes, and I feel the age-old need to freshen things up.
Well, I’m happy to report that the self-cleaning oven did not burn the house down. In fact, it looks great! Almost every time I walk through the kitchen, I find myself opening the oven door, and peering in wonder at its clean, shiny surface. Then I take a gander at the toaster oven and the fridge and I think, Good job, Ida! Now, the final test: to see if Charlie even notices!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
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