Wednesday, July 30, 2014

50 Shades of Prairie Sherry's Dirty Little Secret

I have a dirty little secret.

People who know me well are fully aware of my OCD tendencies when it comes to housekeeping.  I love a tidy house.  Hate me, but I have my children trained to help me clean.  (I do hate you for this, Prairie Sherry.  I find it easier to do things myself.  Of course, no one will want to marry any of my children, but I am okay with that.)  One day out of every week, you will find us scampering about with mops and dusters. The end result sparkles.  We tidy as we go during the rest of the week. If you pop in unexpectedly, you won't find dishes in the sink.  The magazines will be fanned out attractively on the coffee table. (Yes, yes, yes.  Sadly, this is all very true. At my house you will find pots soaking in the sink and magazines scattered everywhere.)

That is not my dirty little secret, but this is:

This door leads to my cleaning nemesis...the oven.  (Really?  This is your dirty little secret?  Geez.  I thought it would be a little juicier.  Something like buying non-organic bacon.)

The outside of my range looks incredibly respectable.  The burner pans are scrubbed weekly.  Grease spots are dealt with immediately.  There is no trace of fingerprints on the glass-front door.  

Visitors are surprised that I actually cook on the thing, since it looks like it just arrived from Sears 20 minutes before.  

If if I am so anal about its outward appearance of this appliance, why do I allow the inside to become a grease-encrusted tomb? There are several reasons:  1) The oven is not self-cleaning,  2) The oven does not have a light, and 3) I love the oxymoronic quality of the phrase, "Sharon's dirty oven." 

Evidently the former owners of my house put in this new range shortly before selling, and decided upon the stripped-down model. Absolutely no bells and whistles--four functioning burners and a standard 1960's style oven.  No convection fans, no preset timers, no oven window, and no light.  The absence of that little incandescent bulb has triggered a deep-seated desire in me not to care.

I use the broiler to char some burgers.  The door is then shut, and I don't care.  The peach pie boils over.  The smoke clears, and I don't care.  A glop of mozzarella slides off the pizza and fuses to the rack, and I don't care.

Actually, it was the peach pie that moved me to action.  The boil over last Monday eventually stopped smoking by Friday, but the sugary stench clung to everything.  We gathered flies when we left the house.  The dogs were attacked by sweet ants.

As I was making coffee this morning, I noticed a seepage of black sugary goo on my pristine white tile floor right under the oven door.  This finally spurred me to action.

I went to the grocery with $20, and I came out with a variety of caustic chemicals, scrubbies, and looooooooong rubber gloves. Kinky, huh? The haze of fumes in the kitchen was horrendous. The dogs bolted for the backyard.  My daughter's friend went home early.  Noon came and went, and no one came in asking to make a sandwich.

One of my daughters slipped in long enough to snap this picture.  I think she may have been checking to see if I was attempting to do myself in, but we do have electric, not gas.

I think the fumes may have affected me a bit.  My face still looks like this.

After two and a half hours and a number of second-degree chemical burns later, this is the result.

We're eating out for the rest of the week.

Prairie Sherry (& a little bit of Prairie Eydie)


  1. What, no Sylvia Plath reference? It is amusing without it, so perhaps I understand.

  2. Yes! At last we are on equal housekeeping terms...or we were until you cleaned your oven!