Archives for: January 2013
When we moved into this house 7 years ago, there was an electric range already in place: oven and stove in one unit, with a fancy glass-top on the stove. I've been using electric stoves for my entire adult life, and adapting to the glass cooking top took no effort at all. Besides using it for cooking, I quickly found myself using it as “extra counter space” in my small kitchen. We routinely put clean dishes onto the stove top after washing, especially if we were washing meat dishes and the tablecloth was already set up for dairy.
A few weeks ago, I put the clean, dry dishes away on a Sunday morning and noticed a crack in the glass. I soon realized that the crack spread along both left burners, rendering them unusable. I wasn’t even sure it was safe to continue using the burners on the right, which were far from the crack. I settled on a compromise: I still used the burners on the right when I absolutely had to, but I minimized their use.
I still used the stovetop to make scrambled eggs and omelets, when I was watching the stove the whole time. Instead of making a soup that simmered on the stovetop all day, I made soups in the crock pot. Instead of cooking meatballs in a frying pan, I cooked them in the oven. Instead of boiling water on the stove constantly, I kept my hot water urn filled and plugged in. I made ghee in the oven instead of the stovetop- and managed to over-cook it, because I couldn't walk past the kitchen and see it, and the smell of the finished ghee was reduced since it was inside the oven.
It took me a while to get the stove looked at. The crack occurred a few days before Christmas, and our handyman is Catholic. I didn't want to disturb him a few days before his holiest day of the year, since this wasn't an emergency. Then, of course, the next week was New Year’s. He was finally able to come the first week of January. He figured out that the replacement part for the stove was nearly $400, not counting labor. There would also be no guarantee that something else in the range wouldn't break shortly afterwards- the range was, after all, at least 9 years old. A new electric stove, without the fancy glass top, was under $450. It made no sense to repair the old stovetop.
But before replacing the stove, we did some research. Mom has a gas stove downstairs, which means the house has a gas line. What would it cost to extend the gas line upstairs and replace the range with a gas oven instead of another electric? Let’s not buy another stove until the plumber can give us an estimate for that. The plumber couldn't come right away- and then the estimate was too high. OK, we’re definitely getting another electric range. The first day Mom was available to go stove-shopping; I was home with a sick child. He was still sick the second day she was available. Finally, he was back in school and we went off to the appliance store, even though I was starting to get sick. Amazingly, they were able to deliver the stove the very next day, which was a Thursday.
Now I found myself quite sick, with a brand new oven and stove to figure out how to use, and it was nearly time to prepare for Shabbos! I kept the hot water urn on for a few more days- my throat was too sore for cold drinks, so I was using much more hot water than usual, and it was a bad time to make new habits, or even to resurrect old ones. Soon I would go back to using the hot water urn just for Shabbos, and boil water in a teapot during the week. This allows the electric urn to last a lot longer.
It’s been nearly a week with the new range. I've found that the oven cooks almost exactly the same as the old one, but the stovetop cooks differently. Instead of a few different sizes of burners, I have two big ones and two little ones. I’m not sure if they actually burn hotter than the old stove did, or if it’s just that the “big” burners are larger than the “medium” burner I used to use for simmering soup all day. Or maybe it’s the way I have to center the pot on the burner for stability, and can’t have it partially on/partially off the burner so it’s not quite as hot. I need to put things on “2” when I used to cook them on “3.” I haven’t actually burned anything, but quite a few things got over-cooked: a soup and yet another batch of ghee.
Maybe I’ll manage to make a batch of yellow ghee in February.
“I can’t take it anymore! I HAVE to eat something!”
I was appalled when that came out of Jack’s mouth the other day, shortly before bedtime. He’s been starving himself? He's only 11! I thought I’d done a good job talking about healthy eating, with a big emphasis on “eating lots of fruits and veggies so you’re too full to overeat the heavy stuff.” How did my message not get through? How did I not notice warning signs earlier?
He’s been overweight for about a year. At his annual checkup last August, he’d grown 2 inches and gained 25 pounds- about 15 pounds more than he should have gained. Since that time, I've tried repeatedly to get him to be more active, as well as trying to get him to drink more water and eat more fruits and veggies. That worked for a time. He slimmed down a little this fall when I was strict about making him eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies each day, making sure he had protein at every meal, and got regular exercise. But then life got in the way, and the new habits were forgotten.
I really noticed his extra weight about a month ago, when we were going through some hand-me-down clothes. I realized that the only pair of dress pants that fit was a “husky.” As a toddler, he wore a “slim”! I commented on this, and mentioned that all 4 of us need to lose weight. After that, he started cutting back on portions. I was a little worried at first, as he seemed to be cutting back on total food intake without increasing his fruits and veggies. Is he getting enough nutrition? But then I figured, he’s probably been over-eating for the past year, and now maybe his appetite is more in balance with his actual caloric needs.
I can tell now that his belly is less padded than it was, and the scale shows a loss of 5 pounds. He’s clearly at a healthier weight, although he still needs to slim down some more. I thought everything was moving in the right direction until his comment at bedtime the other day- tense and hungry and stressed out- and immediately calmed down after having a bowl of cereal. That’s when I realized HOW he lost those 5 pounds- by cutting down his portions to the point where he always felt hungry. That’s not healthy eating- that’s the beginning of an eating disorder!
We had a nice, long talk about health and nutrition that evening, and those discussions are continuing. I explained to him that what he DOES eat is more important than what he doesn't eat. It’s never a good idea to end a meal feeling hungry- his body needs fuel for everyday activities as well as for growth. It’s good that he’s not over-eating; continuing to eat after he’s full is a bad habit, and likely what caused the weight gain in the first place. But he took it too far to the other extreme, and that’s not healthy either.
I've gotten him to eat more produce over the past few days. I’m encouraging him to drink more water, so he doesn't eat when he’s actually thirsty. Soon I want to get him exercising regularly.