Friday, October 30, 2015

Cooking without Gas

My new apartment, like most apartments, is all-electric. Electric hot water, electric heat (when that becomes necessary in Texas), electric stove.

Le sigh.

I had the joy of cooking with gas for 10 years at my old house. I loved it.

I love natural gas in general. It's cheap, it's efficient, it works when electricity doesn't (other than the whole electric pilot light thing, but you can always light it manually, just like the cavemen did).

But in an apartment, you don't usually get gas. I mean, unless you eat a lot of burritos. Which I did tonight, so it's probably a good thing none of you are here. Anyway, I'm talking about the kind of gas you cook with, not the kind brought on by refried beans in quantity.

But I digress.

So cooking on an electric stove is something I'm having to get used to after a decade without it. Which is fine. God knows it's among the lesser problems I'm having to deal with as I restructure my entire freaking life. But there is a learning curve, because gas and electric cooking are not the same.

Case in point: Mexican rice.

Precocious Daughter informed me that tomorrow is Food Day in her Spanish class. That means everyone brings a culturally appropriate dish for the class to dine upon, and her assignment was Mexican (or Spanish) rice. She said she had found a good recipe online, and we just needed to shop for ingredients and put it together.

This is awesome, because PDaughter is wanting to learn to cook, and I'm happy to teach her. I mean, I'm no Julia Child/Galloping Gourmet/Paula Deen/Guy Fieri (pick your decade), but I do enjoy cooking and want her to enjoy it, as well.

So we got down to it. She chopped onions and tomatoes, and fretted when I  showed her how to add oil without measuring (gotta learn to eyeball these things, amiright?), and together we put everything together, then covered the pan so the rice could "simmer at low temperature for 20 to 25 minutes until all liquid is absorbed."

Well, let me tell you something. "Simmer" means something entirely different when you're cooking on an electric vs. gas stove.

The gas stove at my old house had a "simmer burner," which actually had a lower heat setting than the other burners. Because "low" on a gas stove will still boil the shit out of your rice. I had to soak burnt rice grains out of my pans on a regular basis because my gas stove's lowest setting was "LOL simmer right."

So when it came time to make my first batch of rice on my new electric stove, I was flying a little blind. I took the recipe at face value and actually turned the burner to "low" to cook PDaughter's Mexican rice.

Since the pan we were using had a clear glass top, I could see that the rice was not simmering at the "low" setting. So I turned it up. A couple of times, actually. It took twice as long to cook as the recipe called for, once I finally found a temperature at which it would truly simmer and not just sit there looking soupy and sad.

The downside is that when the rice was finally done absorbing its constituent liquids, a certain portion of it had burnt onto the nonstick surface of the pan.

We diligently picked out the nasty black crusty bits, with PDaughter insisting that it was fine while totally silently judging me for not making her dish come out perfect.

Once your child becomes a teenager, I've found, perfection is twice as expected and half as achieved. And that's being generous.

Anyway, she will have a pot of Mexican rice (pretty damn tasty, despite the obstacles) to bring to school tomorrow.

And I will have another reason to fear that I'm the worst mom in my school district.

Now we're cookin'.


  1. On the bright side you never have to worry about gas leaking out into your apartment and potentially causing a huge explosion. That's what always frightens me about gas. (Side note: big thanks to the guys who put my new furnace in backwards and didn't hook it up correctly so the first time the heat was supposed to come on gas was leaking into my basement. Glad to see your company went out of business!)
    I just hope you have a glass top stove because those ones with the metal burners are a total pain to clean.

  2. I have actually had the experience of cooking on coal once. Count your blessings.

  3. Great line: "Once your child becomes a teenager, I've found, perfection is twice as expected and half as achieved."

  4. It's a mercifully short phase. My 19-year-old already likes me better than he did when he was 15. Hang in there. And re: Christopher's comment above -- I thought a glass top would be easy to take care of, but stuff bakes onto it really fast. I finally figured out, the top is easier to clean if it's warm (best if the oven is on low, but that's tough in summer). And you need a scraper thing, and to keep up with it regularly (ha!). Of course, if you have those electric coil things, ignore the above (and I pity you).


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