Monday, June 25, 2012

This Old Stove

Dinner for ten: yesterday began with a pound cake in the oven by 10am. I was feeling very self-satisfied with most of my house cleaned, the yard in reasonable array, the custard for a bing-cherry ice cream (vanilla bean, cream) steeping on the stovetop. Even better in that guests were contributing to the menu. All I had left to do was braise the ribs for most of the afternoon then crisp them up at a high heat right before we ate.

And I thought I smelled gas. I turned the fan on, opened the door. And just as quickly the smell was gone. Poked my head in the oven: nothing. No problem. Tinkered around some more, vacuumed, picked out tablecloths. And then again: gas.


Did the same open-everything routine, and it vanished.

And again I smelled it.

By this point, the ribs were nicely braising in the oven in their beer/stock broth, the cake was cooled, the ice cream churned and ripening in the freezer. And I felt r-e-a-l-l-y spacey. Couldn't focus on a thing. Made some iced tea for a caffeine jolt.

And then.

Decided to google "smell gas from oven" and all the alarms went off in my head. Holy shit. One site said LEAVE THE HOUSE IMMEDIATELY. Another said don't be afraid of a little gas. And on and on, every possible variation. I thought at that point that if I rustled anything even a bit I would set off a massive explosion from here to Antarctica.

I turned off the oven.

I called my friend Tom.

Dear, reliable Tom, who checked for leaks in the pipes and fittings behind the stove (nothing) and then promptly turned off the gas supply. And then took my braising ribs back to his house to finish them off.

Tomorrow a certified repair person comes and let's hope that repairs are less than the cost of a new stove.

Dinner — with improvisation — came off without a hitch. But one of my guests told me that her step-father was in his kitchen when a gas explosion occurred, and he was thrown through a wall into a snowbank outside. Survived with a few broken bones — lucky man!

I'm thinking that my mental haze, which was really confounding, was the result of the pervading gas fumes. I'm thankful that the tiny jolt I got from my tea sparked my brain — and not the fumes! — just enough to realize the gravity of the situation at hand.



  1. Holy crap! Do you have a C02 detector? If not, go buy one. Be safe and I am glad you did not get blown up. How did the ribs turn out?

  2. Nasty. Did you only smell it when things were lit? Those ribs sound good.

  3. Birdie, great idea, thank-you!
    (And the ribs were fab.)

  4. Will the gas company come out and check this out? I had an uncle who was a gas inspector who lit a cigarette when he was fixing his furnace in his own house -- blew himself AND half of his house up completely. My aunt and their three young children were on the other side and lived, but it's an awful true story.

  5. Yikes is right. So glad you returned to your senses, so glad you are okay. Other people's stories are so grim, you were fortunate. As always, the food sounds wonderful. xo

  6. the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat all in one day! So lucky that you weren't rendered unconscious and or blown up! That would have really been a buzz kill for the dinner party. And...I found out recently that folks over 70 can't smell that chemical they put in gas so that we can detect it. SO, as we approach 79 (eventually) we really will have to have detectors in our homes!

  7. New stove being delivered Friday! The best part is that I ordered it and scheduled delivery without leaving my couch.

    I love the internet.

  8. Yikes indeed, T. I shudder to think what might have happened - very relieved to know you're safe.

    Hooray for the new oven -- this one's lucky to be coming your way. Enjoy - and yes, your food sounds scrummy as always ); )

  9. Holy Cow!

    But I seem to have missed the part where you were getting a new stove, though I saw that the gas - repair person was coming ....

    Love, C.