Sunday, February 26, 2012

Post-Chicken Complications

The day after I roasted the chicken --- or maybe two or three days later? --- I followed the recipe from this website and popped a can of tomatoes and all the chicken pulled off the bones and a bunch of spices that I just eyed the measurements for in to a saucepan and boiled it away for maybe 20 minutes. And it turned out quite tasty! Though I notice now, looking at the site, that he caramelized the onions with brown sugar, and that sounds lovely, wish I'd tried it.

However, today I went to roast up some potatoes and beets, and as soon as I started to preheat the oven, lots of black smoke came out the vent. That freaked me out. I hadn't even put new food in there yet. So I turned on my fan on high, and opened the window, and periodically opened the back door and waved it open and shut, all the while watching for potential creatures entering (luckily it's not mosquito season yet). and basically just suffered through it while the veggies were roasting. By the end of the time, regular steam was coming out instead of black smoke, but it doesn't look clean in there by a long shot. And I spilled some olive oil when taking out the pan.

So I went and looked up what kind of oven I have (the apartment people didn't leave me a manual) and found the manual on line. And I am totally creeped out by the health warnings they give for running the auto-clean cycle --- basically, you need to be there in case the thing catches fire, but you should have all your doors and windows open, for about three hours, and oh yeah small birds tend to die or get sick if they are in the same room, so be sure to remove all pet birds to another room or even from the house completely. Um. I am sure that anything that kills off small birds will still be doing a number on my body, and my cats' bodies, and I don't like the idea of running the autoclean cycle at all. Besides, what would I do to prevent the cats from running out one of those open doors? Yeah, I don't like the potential health hazards one bit.

But. Black smoke was pouring out my oven, you know? And it smells like a roast chicken in here, even though I was cooking vegetables. I also heard something once about a rental unit catching fire because the landlord never had anyone clean the oven and never checked if old tenants cleaned before they moved out and all the grease in there started a fire. So I think I might need to clean it --- any thoughts or advice would be appreciated!

Likewise any thoughts on how to clean my dishwasher, since the pan came out pretty clean looking and feeling once I ran the washer, but now the entire bottom of the washer is greasy and beige. I've run it twice since the chicken pan, I think, and I don't think it's getting any better. And I know from undergrad what happens if you put hand dish detergent in a dishwasher (heh heh my silly roommate's boyfriend --- it looked like an I Love Lucy episode in there!) so I'm kind of at a loss as to how to clean it.

Yes, I am a total paranoid weirdo who overthinks everything while cooking. It's not gonna change. Luckily I have spent years on learning about chopping up and cooking various vegetables, so I can make a lot of very healthy stuff without much thought or consulting of cookbooks, the internet, or various friends.

I did get a lot of grading done today. Maybe I'll be able to post a semi-interesting, semi-academic post one of these days instead of stories about chicken.


Feminist Avatar said...

Black smoke from your oven is most likely because grease from your chicken has spilled inside the oven, and the smoke was it burning away. Basically auto-cleaning an oven is just putting your oven on a hot temperature to burn away everything in it. So, you might already have done that! Certainly if it stopped smoking it's a good chance that you have burned it to an extent that it will no longer be a problem.

But, if you want to be safe, get some hot water and some chemicals (doesn't need to be fancy) and give it a wipe down, scrubbing away any food residue or grease. If you clean your oven regularly it shouldn't take very long, and it if it is solid, black, hard and won't come off then ignore it, it's not doing any harm.

Similarly, just wipe your dishwasher out with a cloth and soapy water. Once you have wiped off the residue it should be fine.

Jodi A. Campbell said...

Funny enough, I just went through this myself last month. My apartment's oven was disgusting and got so smoky that I had to do something about it. Since I tend to freak out over chemical cleaners, I made my own and it worked pretty well.

You have to moisten the surfaces of your oven first and then mix 3/4cup baking soda, 1/4cup salt and 1/4cup water to make a thick paste, and spread it throughout the inside of the oven - except for avoid bare metal and any openings. Let sit overnight. Remove with spatula and wipe clean. My oven is not perfectly spotless now, but it's a lot better and no longer pours out smoke every time I use it.

Sisyphus said...

But what is the manual says to never ever under no circumstances put any water or chemicals on the oven surfaces? Will my apartment explode?

Feminist Avatar said...

Doubt it. Self-cleaning ovens sometimes have coatings so that they might be sensitive to certain chemicals. But, I think the main issue is actually that if you spray with chemicals and then use the selfclean setting you can potentially poison yourself through fumes being put into the air. SO, I would use a chemical cleaner that is not harsh - like a multipurpose for all surfaces, or even some washing up liquid. And, then makes sure you give it all a good rinse out/ wipe down with water afterwards, and let it dry before you use it.

The no water thing is utterly ridiculous- almost everything you cook releases water, so your oven must be able to cope with that. I'm guessing that they mean before you use selfclean thing, as it could make steam and burn you.

I have cleaned my parents self clean oven with chemicals before and it was fine.

Contingent Cassandra said...

According to bird-owning friends, birds have some special vulnerabilities to the fumes that arise from chemicals in non-stick surfaces, even under conditions that are perfectly safe for humans (and, presumably, other mammals). For instance, one shouldn't heat a teflon pan, even to perfectly normal temperatures, with a bird in the same room. So if you're already using non-stick pans to cook those veggies, the self-clean cycle in the oven may not do anything worse.

I've used a self-clean cycle on an electric oven multiple times, with no problems. But it didn't have any warnings (except about the high heat), or, as far as I could tell, any coatings beyond the enamel-type stuff that is on most broiling/roasting pans. And it does help to do it at a time of year when you can open windows and doors but let in a minimum of bugs -- late fall, early spring, and unexpectedly warm winter days are all good candidates. Indoor-only cats do need to be restrained, by good screens or sequestration in another room. Until those conditions are available, surface cleaning sounds like the way to go (anything you'd use on a similar surface attached to a pan, with good rinsing afterward, should be fine).

Heloise recommends citric acid for cleaning dishwashers, at least in hard-water areas. The easiest way to get that is unsweetened kool-aid powder in a citrus flavor (or the generic knockoff thereof).