Tuesday, August 04, 2009

No, really, do NOT use for storage

I have a strange history with those pull-out drawers at the bottom of ovens. Until fairly recently, I didn't know what they were supposed to be used for. I always thought they were somehow essential to the inner workings of the oven so I should just never touch it or bother it or use it.

When we moved to Tucson, however, my sister told me that you could actually store stuff in there - big, awkward stuff that didn't fit anywhere else, like rolling pins, cookie sheets, and oven mitts (more on that last one later). I was so excited to find that out. All this time, and I'd never utilized such a handy storage spot! I quickly made up for lost time and stuffed the oven drawer in Tucson with as many baking essentials as it would conveniently hold.

So you can see why as soon as we moved into our apartment here in Ithaca, I unpacked the cookie sheets, muffin tins, and oven mitts, and put them in the drawer under the oven. As I did so, I literally, and smugly, thought to myself, "I'm so glad Teresa told me I could store stuff under here. How silly that I used to think it was forbidden to do so!"

On Sunday, I turned on the oven for the first time since moving in to make cupcakes in preparation for Magdalena's birthday. After a few minutes, it smelled kind of smokey in the kitchen, but I figured the oven was probably just burning off debris left over from the previous resident.

But it kept getting smokier, and smokier, and finally, I called Jeremy over to see what the deal was. He said yeah, it probably was just old stuff left over, burning off, so we opened the windows and set up a fan and that was that.

Still, smoke was just pouring out of the oven. Soon, the smoke alarms were going off. Then I noticed large orange flames coming from under the oven. From the oven drawer, in fact.

Jeremy acted fast. He opened the oven drawer and quickly threw water all over the oven mitts, which were engulfed in flames.

Farewell, beautiful oven mitts. These were a wedding present from my brother Daniel. I've had them for almost eight years now but I'm afraid their usefulness has come to an end.

Jeremy had a good time giving me a bad time about all this, but I don't think I can really be blamed. He pointed out that the words "DO NOT USE FOR STORAGE" are emblazoned on the bottom of the drawer, but I pointed out that "emblazoned" is not really the right word and also, there were a few broiling racks placed over that warning so I never saw it.

So, should I have known better? Do you store oven mitts, or anything else, under your oven? I don't. Not anymore.

16 comments:

Laura said...

I use the bottom drawer for storing stuff. But I only store metal things like cookie sheets. Sorry that your stuff burned.

JosephJ said...

I think it may have something to do with the oven type... like en electric oven has a pair of elements inside the cook chamber, one above and one below the food, while a gas oven has the gas burner beneath the chamber. In Provo (electric) we kept all of our pots and pans in the drawer, but here (gas) we have just left the broiling pan.

We've never burnt up anything in the drawers... but incidentally, our oven mitt which was also a wedding present 6 years ago has the fingertips burnt off from a mishap with an unruly hob. Now it mostly gets used like a wrap-around hot-pad. (The pinch method.)

Aimee said...

I had no idea what it was for either, until I was watching "Take Home Chef" on TLC, and he used it to roast (broil?) a duck. I was so blown away, but I don't know if all ovens are built like that. Maybe it is whether or not its gas/electric. I haven't ever cooked anything down there, but neither have I burnt anything up, but I only keep cook sheets and broiler pans down there. Crazy, good thing you were around!

Amanda said...

I'm with JosephJ: I've had ovens where the lower drawer was a broiler (like the oven I grew up with) and ovens where it is for storage (like the oven I have now.) I did not know it could be used for storage either, but I took a bit of convincing because I thought my oven mitts would light on fire.

JackJen said...

If it's an electric stove, you should be able to store stuff there. If it's a gas stove, it's your broiler.

Brittany Cornett said...

yea oven mits probably were not the smartest idea to place so near your oven in which you cook things at 400 degrees even if you were unaware of the do not use for storage warning. I wouldnt put a rolling pin in one neither. It does make me feel better that someone I feel is so much more intelligent than me, makes mistakes too. It makes me feel better. That sounds bad but hopefully you will hear the compliment in it. Hope all is well in your new place.

Liz Johnson said...

I used that all the time for storage... I put cookie sheets and other random things down there. I think JosephJ is right, though... I have electric stoves, so that might be the difference.

Lilianne said...

I use the bottom drawer for storing actual cookie sheets and other bakeware...but I never thought of putting my oven mitts down there! I knew that if it got too hot, at least the bakeware was made to get hot.

I think JackJen is right - we had a gas oven in our apartment in DC and the bottom was our broiler. Here, our oven is electric and the bottom drawer is for storage.

I'm sorry you lost your beloved oven mitts! May they RIP...

Natchel said...

I have always been too scared to venture under there. Ever.

The Ensign's said...

Niiice!
Growing up that drawer was our broiler. Maybe it's older ovens that still use that drawer as part of the actual oven.
Now we store stuff in it since it doesn't heat up. Maybe I should check and see if ours has that warning sign.

Elizabeth said...

I moved into an apartment once that had the broiler in the drawer but I didn't know it. Apparently the people before me didn't either because the things they had left stored there all melted when I turned the broiler on. My current gas stove has the broiler inside the oven so I do get to use the drawer for storage. Thanks goodness!

It's sad about your things. :(

Teresa Jane said...

I am glad to read that I am not the only person that stores stuff in that drawer! So Bridget, I did not tell you wrong after all. You must have a gas stove. I store metal things such as cookie sheets. Too bad!

Teresa Jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Lou said...

That's one of my fears! I'm glad I can learn from other's mistakes. Thanks! On a random note, one time our oven was broken for about 4 months before the repair man came to fix it. He pulled the whole fixure out and I was mesmerized by the amount of crumbs that had fallen behind and down the sides of the oven. It was like food storage for mice.

Linda said...

It has been a very long time since I had a stand alone stove, but I used my drawer (electric oven) for cookie sheets, cast iron pans, and the big pan that comes with the oven, when I did have one. It is good to know we can't generalize this to just any kind of oven drawer. I didn't know some were actually the broiler unit!
Live and learn. I burned the bottom off my rice cooker last week. I sit it on my cast iron eye on my stove top ( or have, for years) ....but this time, the eye got accidentally turned on. Somehow. Live and learn, again.
Using my stovetop for countertop may need to be off limits.

Jonny said...

Ah, yes. I think everyone has to go through this experience. I can't remember what it was for me, but I know it happened. I think it's a right of passage for stay at home moms. Congratulations, you've arrived.

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