Tonight's post is a combination of food journaling and venting against the machine (almost literally). If you've been following my recent posts on Instagram you might have noticed I've made several comments about being without my oven. My family moved into a new (to us) home back on October, and since then, we've dealt with several "wish we had known" issues that have been really annoying. An electric water heater where we can't set the max temperature (so it gets blistering hot when washing dishes), ants in the pantry the first time it poured (causing us to dump almost everything in there) and a supposedly plumbed third floor room we were going to convert into a bathroom that has no plumbing (lawsuit pending). Well, here's yet another.
Two Sundays back (that's 17 days now if you are counting), I was preheating the top of my GE double wall oven while preparing blueberry muffin batter. Just as I began to fill the muffin tin, the oven started beeping and the display flashed the code F96. The oven would not stop beeping so I flipped the circuit to kill the power. Frustrated, I texted my friend who lives up the block and headed down to use his oven. 40 minutes later I returned with a tin full of muffins (-1 for payment). We adjusted our cooking plans for the weekend and Monday morning, my wife called GE. They told us it was an issue with the cooling fan and scheduled a service tech to do the repair. The fastest appointment they could get was the following Saturday, a full 5 days later. Holy crap, how does a home cook with five mouths to feed survive that long. But they told us the technician would have the parts in the truck to make the repair.
So I began to plan the week's meals. Fortunately, I have a gorgeous Wolf range and nice big Weber outdoor grill and the temps in Raleigh have been very mild this winter. I kept it simple, pasta, steaks, shrimp tacos with roasted potatoes. Figured I could make it the week without getting too experimental.
Then came repair day. Tech arrives, real nice guy, things are going well. Until he tells me this repair (the same exact repair the F96 code diagnosed) is a two-man job and he needs to order the part. What the $#%!? His visit didn't change a thing, and yet he wasn't prepared to fix a damn thing. And the next appointment where he could come back with a second guy and have enough time to have the part shipped to us? Two Mondays later (again, if you are counting, that's another 9 days). Oh and here's the kicker. He's not an electrician so he can't disconnect and reconnect the oven from the junction box, so he says I'll have to do it. And here's the estimate to replace the part. Over $550. Double "what the $#%!?" So I gotta help repair the oven while paying these guys an arm and a leg? What a joke.
So time to go back to the cooking drawing board. Can't continue to scale back family meals, so it's time to see what can really be done on a grill. First up, move the pizza stone from the oven to the grill. Awesome! Turns out, while I cooked with the same heat, the pizza stone held a lot more heat so the crust got nice and charred, like a brick oven pizza. Made a fantastic fig jam, serrano ham and spring mix salad pizza with balsamic vinaigrette. Oh and a pineapple pizza for the kiddos.
Then I got to thinking, "What am I, an electrician?" Sure, I've wired up my share of ceiling light kits and fans, so I'm sure I could do the job of decoupling some wires and re-coupling them, but why oh why should I have to help repair the oven I'm paying to have repaired. So I placed a call to GE's service department. I explained the situation and they told me not to worry, they can send out a different crew earlier in the day to disconnect the oven, then send them back later to reconnect it, and at no additional charge. Problem solved. Note to self, buy a phone call recording device.
So I moved on to a Chinese roast pork on the grill. Sure, I've made pork loin on the grill before, but usually a dish like this would have gone in my oven. The marinade charred up beautifully and the glaze got sweet and sticky for the perfect dish alongside white rice and green beans.
Ok, it's repair day again! But the time for the disconnection crew to show up has come and almost gone. So my wife calls the GE service department again and sits on hold for 20 minutes. Finally, after getting forwarded to another department, she's told "we don't have any record of that appointment or any service we offer to disconnect appliances." Triple "what the $#%!?" She literally throws the phone at me and says "you deal with this". An hour later, having repeated the entire details of the story at least 5 times, I'm nowhere new, and the repair guy and his trusty partner have shown up to do the repair. So I tell the guy on the phone straight up "Here's what we're going to do. You are going to cancel my appointment. I'm going to keep this part you sent me and I'm not paying for it. I'm going to find someone capable to repair my oven. I'm going to say goodbye to these nice gentlemen in my home. And I'm going to hang up with you. Good day."
So here I am with an oven that doesn't work, a replacement part with no one to do the repair, and dinner to make for my family. My plan for the night was to cook up my own He Can Cook Cold Winter's Night Food Challenge dish, Beef Pot Pie topped with Cheddar Thyme Biscuits. But could I do this on the grill? Could I actually bake on the grill? Turns out the answer is an astounding YES. My beef and vegis heated up well and the drop biscuit on top rose nicely and browned perfectly. Now, the extra biscuits I made on the side directly on the pan may have gotten a bit toasty underneath from that sheet pan holding more heat than in the oven, but it wasn't anything I couldn't cut off, leaving a delicious biscuit!
So where do things stand now? I've found someone to repair my oven. He'll be here tomorrow and I don't need to play the role of an electrician. And the cost, about $160. Was it worth the savings? Maybe. Did it confirm what we all already knew, that big-a$$ companies with outsourced customer support don't give a $hit about their customers and do a crappy job of training their people? Of course! But did I also learn that with a little thought and experimentation, pretty much anything can be cooked on the grill and my double wall oven could make for a better storage space than useful appliance? Sure did!
A final comment on this matter. GE support sucks! It shouldn't take 17 days to NOT have a repair completed for a critical appliance. Think about that the next time you are appliance shopping. Pass the word along so others will consider it, too. And if you have your own horror stories to share, PLEASE leave it in the comments below so others can gain from the knowledge.