My toaster oven died yesterday. Actually, it’s been a slow death that began a year ago when the oven function stopped working. Then yesterday, while I was making my toast, the top heating element flickered and sputtered some bright orange sparks. I knew I was going to have to face reality: do some research and buy a new one.
I liked my old toaster oven because it had a simple button to start the toaster and when you opened the door, the toaster went off. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a technophobe. I like simple appliances, not ones with lots of bells and whistles. I’ve learned that the “bells” usually break and the “whistles” are too confusing to understand. My other gripe is the manuals that come with these small appliances. They show you a picture of the appliance with a numbered list of all the parts and then write: “Product may vary slightly from what is illustrated.” Then they tell you to “insert reversible slide rack halfway into lower rack slot position (C),” which is nowhere to be found on the model you’re looking at.
I began my research for a new one by “googling” toaster ovens and got over two and a half million results. I narrowed it down by selecting the same brand we currently have and then looked at ratings. One review said the model caught on fire. Another said “you get what you pay for and I wish I’d paid more.” There were too many choices and I didn’t know which reviews to believe.
I was starting to sweat. The toaster is an essential appliance in our house, since we have toast at almost every meal. But we haven’t had an old-fashioned toaster in years. We like the convenience of a small oven to heat individual portions of food so that we don’t have to use more energy with our big oven.
As I factored in my three criteria: small dimensions, not too expensive, simple to operate, I began to feel overwhelmed. I was used to the one we had and now I was going to have to learn a new “operating system.” After an hour of research, I gave up and went to bed.
Today I went over to my local hardware store and looked at their selection. They had one that was just the right size and price, but instead of a start button, the new one had a timer. I decided to settle for two out of my three criteria and bought the new, improved model. When I got home and opened the box, I discovered the manual was 20 pages long with one whole page devoted to the three dials on the control panel. It even had a separate setting for bagels.
I spent an hour reading the manual then adjusted all three dials to the “Toast” setting. I was not liking this one bit, but I persevered. I put in my first piece of bread and waited as the timer ticked away. I peeked through the glass door to make sure the elements were heating. Finally, after what seemed like an interminable amount of time, the bell rang and I opened the door. The toast was nicely browned on both sides. After slathering it with butter, I sat down to read the manual again.
Maybe tomorrow I’ll try the “Bagel” setting!