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June 29, 2009

Now We're Cooking With Gas

Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.

Hello again, my old friend. I've missed you, you know.


I had an electric stove top during my first year in Boston.

Never. Again.

The next place in Boston I lived in had gas. The place I live in now, in NYC, has gas. I'm still thankful every time I see the little swoosh of flame jump out.

My mother grew up on a dirt farm in northern Wisconsin and cooked on a wood stove until she was married. Then she used electricity for 45 years. A few years ago, they totally renovated their 40-year-old suburban tract house and built an amazing new kitchen.

While they did put in a plumbing line for gas to the new stove location, my mom said "I learned to use one new kind of stove in my life, and I'm not going to learn to use another. I'll stick with electric."

At which point, she went out and spent $60K on an electric stove top that has the feature that when you change the heat setting on a burner, it instantly adjusts the temperature of the element. In other words, as far as I can tell from using it, it functions just like a gas stove.

Gas seems like a cheaper way to get the same thing, MOM.

Congratulations on getting a gas stove.

I dunno. In professional cooking, where you have to jump from one dish and type of cooking to another hundreds of time during a service, there may well be no substitute for gas. But for home cooking, where the cook usually works with only a few dishes at a time, and can plan out the cooking temperatures, changes, etc. -- is there truly much difference?

For a variety of reasons, my wife put her foot down and refused to consider gas. I did not want to spend a fortune on an induction cook top, so I went with a new, high-end GE conventional, glass-top electric range with many features.

I do have to think ahead, and plan temperature changes -- and I do have to remove the pot instead of just turning off the burner when a fast drop is needed. And it does take a longer to preheat. And I can't jump a burner from one use to another and expect immediate results. But overall, I can get (ahem) great results from this stove.

I spent over $1600 at Home Depot for this stove, $1100 more than a basic or standard range would run. There is no comparison between my new high-end range and these standard ranges, and I would never go back. But I am not sure that there is that much difference - overall - between my stove and a home gas range. (I assume we are not talking about professional ranges here, with 25,000 to 30,000 plus BTU burners, taking professional hoods, etc.??)

I can't imagine using electric again. I recently learned that Sandra Lee uses electric, on the show, and I remembered the SemiHomemade is the AntiChrist.

Not to jump the gun too much, but Top Chef 6 participants are now showing on Bravo. 17 chefs. Most of them are over 30 and about half are over 35 so it seems a more mature crowd than some previous years.

August 26 air date, according to Brave home page.

I find those gas flowers kind of hypnotic to watch, but I don't make a habit of it! Mostly because we have electric, otherwise I might have a real problem.

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