We learned a valuable little lesson over at our house this Thanksgiving Eve.
Don't clean your oven the day before you're planning to roast a big ol' bird.
You'd think we would have been smarter than this, but nope.
Let me just say, our oven was nasty inside. Doggone, nasty. Caked with burnt offerings on every side. In fact, last Thanksgiving even, I remember being worried about the turkey not smelling so great due to the other stuff that was burning on the sides every time the oven was on. Oh yeah, so I guess that's Confession #1: we're big fat procrastinators. Don't judge.
So anyway, on Tuesday, I asked my husband to pick up some oven cleaner at the store, and he brought home a can of lemon-scented "Easy Off" oven cleaner that was supposed to work overnight. Easy Off did it's job because when we opened the oven door yesterday morning, there was black grime everywhere ready to be wiped off. Mission accomplished.
But did we clean it off that morning? Nope. Since my husband said he would finish it, I kind of just forgot about it since I wasn't using the oven yesterday, and last night, I had to gently nag him a few times to remind him that it needed to be clean before we got up in the wee small hours of the morning to roast the bird. Grudgingly he got up, opened it up, and wiped it down. Finally -- a clean oven! However, the fumes were pretty strong still at that point, and we wanted to make sure it was all completely out of there before firing it up for the turkey this morning, so he turned on the "self-cleaning" mode and let the oven do it's job to finish it up and burn the rest off.
I personally had no experience cleaning an oven (obviously, since I let it get as filthy as possible in there before the thought entered my mind), which I suppose is Confession #2: I've never cleaned an oven before, but it sure didn't seem right when about an hour later the house smelled like all sorts of burning nastiness. (Don't worry, that is apparently quite normal, but even so, a burning house smell was not exactly reassuring since the bird was supposed to go in there around 6am or so for roasting.) We decided to turn it off, and when I tried to unlock the door, it wouldn't budge. Not a problem, my man reassured me. It's locked up because the oven heated itself up so high to self-clean, so it will unlock sometime when it cools down enough. Go to sleep, it will be ready in the morning. Which I did. The third year of turkey roasting experience will do that to you. If this had been the nervewracking virgin year of turkey roasting? Yep, I wouldn't have been able to sleep.
Fast-forward to this morning. I woke up while the world was still dark (5:56am) and heard rustlings in the kitchen. Since my alarm was going to go off at 6am anyway, I shuffled into the kitchen to see what my husband was up to. Once my eyes adjusted to the light, I found the oven apart from the wall, my husband lying on the floor on his back as if he was about to change the oil under the hood, and yeah. Hmm. Okay.
With a smile on his face, he told me how he woke up at 3am to let the dog out to do her business, and he figured, what the heck, I should just get the oven ready now while I'm up. Sure enough, he said, the lock wouldn't open on the oven. And we don't have an oven manual -- the previous owners didn't leave that for us. So he did what any heroic, nerdy, technical-guru husband would do -- he started googling.
In the span of three hours he not only googled our oven, he downloaded and read through the manual (to no avail), and ended up paying $45 online for the help of a technical superhero by the name of "Chad", who apparently was retired from Jenn-Air and had a nighttime gig helping people online. People like my husband, who call at 4am the morning of Thanksgiving, begging someone to please help them out before their wife wakes up to roast a twenty-two pound bird in their oven that is locked up and stinky so as not to disappoint the other twenty or so guests at the Thanksgiving table. People like my husband, who wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of possibly having to call his mother-in-law at 5am and asking if we could drive over with a big bird strapped down in the front seat to use her oven all morning.
Even with the assistance of good ol' "Chad" from JustAnswer.com, it took them both a while to figure out how to get that dang lock undone on the oven. My husband said it finally unlocked after "Chad" suggesting that he flip the switch to "self-clean" as fast as he could and back off to see if it would unlock. Who wouldda thunk it? Thank the good Lord above it worked, and not only was it fixed right about when I walked in the kitchen at 5:56am, but it was already preheated to 275-degrees. And sparkling clean. And not only was it sparkling clean and preheated to my specifications, but it smelled divine, just like roasted marshmallows. Apparently "Chad" suggested that my husband mix up a little water, sugar, and vanilla, and bake it to remove the burning smell from the house, which, of course, worked like a charm. And pulling out the oven meant my husband was able to find a very nasty paper towel that was the culprit in clogging up the vent, which had never worked very well since we bought the house. So the venting issue was solved as well.
Way to go, baby. Way to go.
So our little tale ends in a happy way. The bird is roasting, and my house is slowly filling with the scent of a delicious-36-hours-brined bird, and I'm thinking it's safe to say there will be twenty-plus people happily filling their stomachs later on today. And my oven is in tip-top condition.
But let my little cautionary tale serve as a warning. And maybe, after reading this little story, you'll savor each bite of that turkey in your mouth just a little bit more.
Happy Turkey Day to you. And a very happy Turkey Day to you, "Chad", wherever you are.