Given that our new(-ish) offices, unlike the old ones, are not connected to an upscale mall with chow for sale every five paces, and are indeed a good half-mile through appalling traffic from the nearest place to eat; and given further that I am generally considered to well-nigh live at the place (they makin you vote in that precinct yet, son?),* it rapidly became a matter of acute importance to keep on hand a few staples in our HandiWee-Kitchen
and to have something with which to cook those staples. (The landlord frowns on our having an open-pit barbecue in the 12th floor conference room, for some strange reason. How in the Sam Hill them damnyankees expect us to roast goats without a pit I cannot tell you, but there it is. We are now severely cabrito-deprived, I tell you what.)**
Recommend this product?
Accordingly, when the Great Removal to our new digs occurred, I immediately . Well, no. Not immediately. First I got used to having a new office the size of my old coat closet, and without a window. Then I drew polite attention to the fact that somehow, in the remodel, only the window offices had been furnished with HVAC vents, resulting in my offices, and Amys office, the office managers office, and two of the three conference rooms, to boot, not having air-conditioning. In Houston. In summer. I was familiar with the idea that in some downtown firms, you have to toil your way to an office with a window, and eventually earn the right to the Big Corner Office, but the idea that you needed to make partner to get A/C struck me as a bit steep.
But shortly after the move, once all that was settled, I took stock of the HandiWee-Kitchen we had inherited. Icebox (oh, all right, you whippersnappers: refrigerator)? Check. Sink? Check. Cabinets? Check, and ample: enough room, even, for a bottle or two. (Okay, several. Bourbon, sourmash, madeira, sherry, port, and burgundy. This was still in my drinking days.) Dishwasher (other than the receptionist)? Check. (Yes, I know, were a firm full of chauvinist piggies, fine, rant all you want. Judge Stu Stewart and I are likelier to redd up our dishes than the lady lawyers are, trust me.) Coffee makers (2)? Check. Margarita maker? No? Well, you cant have everything.
And to cook with?
We had brought the old microwave with us or rather, the microwave from the old office, which is admittedly elderly, but positively au courant in comparison to the built-in other microwave that we inherited with the new space. When I say the microwave that was here before we were is a museum piece, I am hardly doing it justice. Its an Amana Radarange no dial, no clock, just 6 buttons marked from Muffin to TV Dinner that may not have been the first one off the assembly line, perhaps, but is assuredly old enough that it still bears the fading autographs of Nikita Khrushchev and Dick Nixon from their famous Kitchen Debate.
Okay. Fine. Microwaves. At least they fry bacon (thereby cutting in half the East Texas justification for the existence of wives). (Pause whilst things are thrown at the comedian, and the Slower Traffic in the audience stares at me like a tree full of owls.) But neighbors, have you ever tried to microwave a biscuit?
This is important, folks. Down here, biscuits matter. And as I am a member in good standing of the firms Breakfast Club, along with Joe, Stu, and Matt (of course, unlike my fellow early-birds, I am also the one, along with Heather and the Senator, whos always barely getting out of here in time for the first inning of that nights West Coast ballgame. Yes, I do spend too much time at the office, thankyouverymuch), I long since developed the habit of getting to work at 0-Dark-30 and breakfasting at my desk.
I am a believer in breakfast, neighbors. What I am not a believer in is mulch as a start to the day. My concept of breakfast does not stop at the cereal, and still less at the cold-cereal, bowl. Grits are fine, wondrous, the staff of Southern life, but they are only a part, as the Saturday morning commercials reverently pronounce, of This Complete Breakfast. And lunch at the desk, nay, in my sorriest moments dinner at the desk, is not out of the question, either. I needed, at the very least, a way to bake my biscuits and maybe even scramble an egg (that Smithfield ham sausage gets so lonely otherwise. Even with cantaloupe, for which its been an oddly good year havent had a bad slice yet even whilst its been an awful year for honeydews).
Enter the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000.
Let me begin with the fundamental point, one which may be dispositive to many of you. This is a toaster-oven. The primary purpose of a toaster-oven is to toast bread. And I will freely admit the salient fact: the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000 or, as I call him, Hal doesnt toast bread worth a damn. (It dont take me long to look at a hot horseshoe.)
Specifically, its settings have no discernible relation to the results, which run effectively from cold-as-a-town-bankers-heart to charred-enough-to-lead-the-local-newscast, with nothing in between.
Additionally, while Hal Im sorry, I should be formal: the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000 isnt precisely ugly or unprepossessing, unlike some of its users around the office, not a few of whom look like they were inside the outhouse when the lightning struck, I dont find it a Mies-and-Frank-Lloyd-caliber Twibute to Modewn Desiiiiiign, as some do. (Heck, folks, it aint as if its a Loewy Studebaker.)
And yet, all that being said, Hal AKA the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000 (you really have to intone that, with all the drama of a '40s radio announcer) is fine as cream gravy for my purposes, and Im all over it like ugly on an ape. The reason is not far to seek: I didnt buy the blamed thing to toast lightbread (that being, as far as this Good Ol Boy is concerned, a comestible best left to invalids so sick they need two beds, and to Them People in Fort Worth What Put Catsup on Their Eggs).
The reason I took immediately to Hal, the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000 took to it like a buzzard takes to guts is that what I bought it to do, it does admirably. Ten, fifteen minutes after sticking a platter of frozen Pillsbury Southern-Style biscuits into Hals capacious maw, Im staring at a steaming, redolent plate of hot drop-biscuits just begging to be slathered with butter*** and drizzled with Steens Cane Syrup**** or mayhaw jelly.***** Folks, if that prospect doesnt make your spirits rise like a corncob in a cistern, you need talkin to, because that is the definition of larrupin good eats.
Nor does Hal, the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000, disappoint on other fronts. Assume for a moment you have nothing on hand save left-over biscuits (improbable, but not, technically, logically impossible), some queso blanco, a can of chili powder, some habanero Tabasco, and a deadline. The broiler function allows you to whip up a Texas version of Welsh rabbit in no time.
Likewise, if youve a hankering for eggs,****** scrambled or as an omelet, that handy-dandy bake pan of Hals will suit you right down to the ground, as it cooks evenly and rapidly and possesses a lip sufficient to keep the eggs in the bake pan instead of spattered into unrecognizable burnt gunk all over your heating element. This, as that pushy ol Martha Stewart keeps mouthing off about, Is a Good Thing.
It also does well by such things as chicken cordon bleu and chicken Kiev that dont work for sour apples in a microwave.
Indeed, Hal the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000 (say it with me, now, brethren and sistern!) is admirably consistent in its (his?) heating times, in temperatures, in pre-heating, in broiling with celerity. (Mind you, I have never broiled celery in it.) Moreover, Hal (the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000) is dowered with a handily removable crumb tray for those amongst you who actually clean things. (Folks, it all burns off eventually, so why get all bent out of shape? Besides, what dont kill, fortifies.)*******
Similarly nice-to-have, but never much used by me, is the second slot for the wire rack, putatively (if, so far in my experience, pointlessly) allowing Maitre Jean-Marie-Bubba to adjust his artful cookery if hes a mind to.
Downsides,******** in addition to the, um, Toasting Problem admitted above, include the flimsiness and scratch-prone character of the bake pan, the fact that while the handle to the glass dropface door is not conductive, everything else in the vicinity is hottern a goat eating jalapenos, and the fact that this conductivity includes the sleek, 1939 Worlds Fair modern metal top of this sucker. You can find that out the hard way by putting a plate of something you were going to cook next up there, and finding that, lo and behold, you just did.
On balance, though, Hal (lets all sing along with Mitch! the Black & Decker Electronic Toast-R-Oven Broiler TRO1000) is an admirably inexpensive (which is good, on account of how Im a man with short arms and low pockets, as in, tightern Dicks hatband), consistent, and reliable device for, well, all sorts of things other than its intended and express purpose of toasting lightbread, for which it is about as useful as teats on a boar-hog. In fact, if youre not careful with this sucker, youll end up fat as a town dog. Take it for what it is, though, and youll be fine with it and if that aint the point, grits aint groceries. And Lordy, but does that thing turn out biscuits so good theyll make you slap your granny.
And one final feature: as I have just demonstrated, it is also perfectly suited for
This review in the somewhat unexpected area of Home & Garden is the result of the folks at H&Gs having rashly invoked a dire Nemesis.
We of the Books section beat them like a yaller dawg I mean we tanned their hides and whoomped em like a drum in the recent contest between categories for quality and quantity of new reviews. (Of course.) In a move more natural to Patrick Leahy than to decent people, they retaliated by taking the Epinions Dots (the unsmiling smiley-faces +, -, =, and !, also known as Eenie, Meenie, Minie, and Moe Tolia whose sad visages you see waaaaay up there in the topmost left corner of the page, over the logo) hostage; and defied us literary types to ransom the unfortunates by contributing a certain amount of dignity, wisdom, and good prose to their miserable category, which, God knows, could certainly use some, and which admittedly came to the right source as far as borrowing some goes.
This is my first volley in that most just and necessary war.
And frankly, as we say down home, I aint had so much fun since the hogs ate Sister.
* And further granted my intense and abiding interest in food.
** And dont even get me started on the dent this has put in our brisket and links consumption. Tragic, really.
*** Nowadays, alas, ButTerLikeSpred in place of Falfurrias Sweet Cream Butter. Sweet are the uses of adversity, my Aunt Fan. Folks who sell you that bill of goods about how it tastes just like butter are either so crooked you could use their spines for safety pins, or so ignorant of what real butter tastes like, that if brains were leather, they couldnt saddle a flea.
**** Pronounced, in Texas, surp.
***** Those were the days. What I will allow myself in these thin (not, ahem, thin enough) and piping times is unrefined sweetness, which basically amounts to pure, unstrained sourwood or tupelo honey from a local apiary.
****** Remember eggs? Hen apples. Cackleberries. No? Me neither. I seem to be making EggWhipPer omelets these days, too. Sigh.
******* Also sprach the bachelor.
******** As it happens, I am not referring to the Roman Catholic public school in Britain.
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