I’ve lived without an oven before. And it sucked.
I’ve had lots of experience with ovens before. As a kid, I once decided to press my whole hand on a hot oven rack. Maybe I didn’t believe the heat coming from the oven was real? As you can tell, I was clearly a philosophical child. I must have had a feeling reality and appearance weren’t lining up. Really, it was a brilliant mistake.
My current oven situation is not philosophical. It’s illogical. The thing doesn’t work! But I’ll go more into that later. For now, let’s talk about the eight months of my life I spent without access to an oven.
In first year of university, I lived on residence in a dorm. The dorm hall allowed everyone their own room, so I only shared a bathroom with my roommate. But living in a dorm meant no kitchen – unless you count the disgusting, always dirt encrusted, sometimes fire-causing microwave in the common room (and the fire culprit? Microwavable popcorn. It got students every time).
Some people got creative in desperate times with that microwave, making macaroni and cheese and even chocolate cake (a rumour I only heard about, and I still wonder if it’s true).
I ate wraps or Tim Horton’s sandwiches for most meals in my time on rez. On the first floor of my dorm hall sat a large cafeteria, which I was led to believe offered delicious cuisine from around the world.
Fresh, wholesome, homemade food!
A full salad bar!
Burgers, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese sandwiches, and fries from the grill!
Something for everyone!
You had to be adventurous to eat in the cafeteria most nights. They had a surf ‘n’ turf night that had the whole place smelling like rotten fish. I didn’t even dare try that. Steak night presented an adventure in breaking plastic knives on cheap cuts of beef. For me, it was either burgers (which got gross after the first few times) or hitting the wrap bar and eating chili (occasionally made with random vegetables like broccoli and celery, maybe from the days they cleaned out the salad bar).
I was sick most of the time first year, with stomachaches and headaches. This was before I knew about being gluten intolerant (read about that here), but I really didn’t eat much bread or pasta. But I’m sure flour touched most things. The other problem was MSG.
THE HORRORS OF MSG
What is MSG? It’s a flavour enhancer under a long chemical name that I can’t spell. It’s supposed to make things taste better, kind of like salt. Little known fact: you can be allergic to MSG (it’s true! Read about it here). Know what being allergic meant? Feeling flushed, nauseated, and getting migraines from food with MSG. The cafeteria used plenty of MSG to make their lackluster food taste remotely normal.
Of course, I only realized this later, months after moving out of the dorm hall. But even if I had known, I couldn’t waste my $4,000 food plan by buying other food.
“Four-thousand dollars! For shitty food?!”
I know. I still feel extremely ripped off.
MY OWN APARTMENT
So let’s fast-forward to second-year, when I got my own one-bedroom apartment. I could cook my own food! Except for one thing.
At first, it was fine. I was still figuring out how to cook, going off a carefully detailed list from my mom of how to cook different types of chicken and meat. Then, I started trying to bake things. I couldn’t figure out why things either burned immediately or went flat when I took them out.
Well, it wasn’t my lack of baking skills (like everyone thought). The oven in my apartment was 50 degrees off from the temperature dial, and also didn’t hold a steady temperature. Eight months after I put in the first request to get it fixed, a repairman came and reported it fixed. After that, it only got mildly better than before. My gluten-free creations didn’t always turn out, unless I planned on longer cooking times at lower temperatures.
So I had to figure out more and more ways to cook only on the stovetop. Chicken can be pan-seared. Steamed vegetables. My own spaghetti creation – tons of chopped up vegetables in tomato sauce with ground turkey. But still, my cooking was very limited.
After the second failed oven repair, I immediately complained to my mom. She told me to try to get it fixed again. My superintendent insisted the oven was fixed and refused to call someone in to work on the oven again, unless I would pay for it. This, along with other problems, led me to looking for a new apartment.
I just want to bake again! And cook things in the oven! So now I’m on a quest to find a new apartment with a bigger kitchen and working oven (and maybe a newer building that isn’t home to mice in the walls and bugs crawling out of the vents and into my apartment). Keep checking back for a new post on my experiences with moving when I finally find a place!
UPDATE: I found a new apartment! Read about it here.
Also, If you’ve had similar experiences to mine, let me know! I need more ideas for stove top cooking!