I used the self cleaning feature on the oven the other day. Self cleaning is sort of a funny term for what amounts to cremating the earthly remains of the lasagne and the pies that cooked over and ran all over the bottom of the oven at temps rivaling the fiery pits of Hell.
You lock the oven door, you set it to "clean" and it gets very fucking hot. A couple of hours later your kitchen is a tropical vacation destination, the house is full of toxic smoke, making it a polluted tropical vacation destination, and you have a very messy looking ashy mess in your oven.
While way better than spray on oven cleaners, the self cleaning method has problems. For instance, the smoke and ash. I also worry about my oven bursting into flame. I worry that a flaming self cleaning oven would turn my entire house into a flaming self cleaning house. Which would be bad.
Thanksgiving is a high impact cooking holiday and it heralds the start of the holiday baking season as well, so I figured I needed to clean the freaking oven. Or rather, I needed the freaking oven to clean its own freaking self.
Because I tend to put non oven-safe crap in the oven when it's off, I made sure to haul everything out of the oven before I set the dial to incinerate. I was careful.
I set the dial to clean. I did other stuff.
I paid no heed to the acrid smoke, though it was thicker than usual. I figured the bad smell was due to the fact I hadn't cleaned the oven since last November.
Later, when the the oven was done cleaning itself and cooling itself down, I opened the door in order to gaze upon its glorious if somewhat apocalyptic ashy-ness.
In the far back left corner I spied a grey white mass, and what the what? Was that my good serrated knife? The one with the plastic handle?
The one that used to have a plastic handle?
Shit. Fuck. Damn.
I did what any other depressed avoidant person would do; I closed the oven door and pretended I didn't see what had just happened there.
I didn't even tell my husband.
My kids were there when I made my terrible discovery.
They watched me close the door, they heard me say, "Well. I guess I'll take care of that...later."
For a day and a half, I thought about chipping the chunk of melted plastic out of the oven. I dreaded it. I imagined chipping the hunk of plastic out of the oven would take a long time. I thought, if I can't chip the glob out I'll have to try to melt it again. I imagined the evil chemicals that would spew forth again and the smell, and what if I couldn't get it all out and Thanksgiving would be ruined and maybe we'd need to buy a new stove and Christmas is coming and OMG.
Walk away but worry. That's my motto!
Tonight, my intrepid little son presented me with my oven re-forged serrated knife. "Good as new!" he said. Where the handle had recently been was now wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap. Good as new, indeed. Or really, even better than new, because, what a sweet good kid to try to fix this for me.
My son's optimism and kindness encouraged me to assess the damage in the oven.
Together, he and I slowly opened the over door. We peered into the dark corner at the cooled and hardened melted plastic puddle. I took my better than new knife and I poked at the mass. It fell at the touch of the blade, in a powdery ashy puff.
It was just a pile of ash.
Well, good heavens.
How the fuck hot does the freaking oven get when you set it to clean?!
Jesus, it's a wonder the whole freaking house didn't burn down!
Turned the plastic to ash.
I'll be damned. Most likely.
And so, it's all cleaned up.
It was easy.
Kids can sometimes make us braver better people.
Most things really are not as bad as you think they're going to be.