Reba Cooks #6
Obituary: Black GE Profile Spectra™ 30" Free-Standing QuickClean™ Electric Range (1999-2021)
The Black GE Profile Spectra™ 30" Free-Standing QuickClean™ Electric Range died suddenly on Monday, May 3 in an electrical fire. It was 22 years old.
Purchased in 1999 on a five year payment plan for $450 with 24% interest by the previous owners (a questionable purchase at best) the range was already in the house when the current owners adopted it. Scratched but functional, the oven kept even temperature, the stove took 2-3 times longer than any normal stove to boil water, and it was a pain in the ass to clean.
Regardless, the range was loved. Hundreds if not thousands of meals, desserts, breads and sauces have been prepared in the six years since the current owners bought the home. An established appliance, the range served selflessly during its time.
Endless baked goods came out of it’s oven door including multiple batches of macarons in a months long quest for perfection, a number of experiments with laminated pastry dough including croissants and sweetheart coffee cake, more than its fair share of Costco brownies, and more cookies than anyone could possibly count. These goods, baked “for fun” and then delivered to various neighbor’s mailboxes kept things interesting and limited the time they were present in the house, clearing the way for more baking. When the high school cafeteria recipe for Peanut Butter Blondies was finally cracked, people (the author) rejoiced. Then made another batch. A true partner in bread baking— the oven helped tackle books like Bread Illustrated, Tartine Bread, and Mastering Pizza like a pro. Heated to 500F with a baking stone on the center rack for hours at a time, the oven churned out chewy, crispy baguettes, vegetable laced and salted focaccia, fluffy pull apart cinnamon rolls, homemade bagels, soft pretzels, and pizza of all shapes and kinds (on Fridays of course).
Of course, the oven did more than just sweets. Over the last six years, the oven produced slow roasted meats, crispy browned vegetables, whole fish stuffed with herbs and citrus, weeknight roasted chickens and fluffy baked potatoes. Sheet pan dinners were a staple in the oven doors and once a chicken was roasted directly on the rack, with the drippings falling into a waiting sheet tray of potatoes, crisping them as it roasted.
The stovetop, however, was not to be ignored. The water took ages to boil, the pans desperately long to heat up, but the burners were nothing if not workhorses. Hundreds of gallons of pasta water heated to boiling, crispy chicken thighs started in cold pans, fried rice using every leftover in the fridge, dozens of olive oil fried eggs, blistered tortillas and hot oil heated up for the occasional deep fry of homemade donuts or duck fat french fries. It wasn’t all a savory affair either— the stove had a sweet tooth of its own. Butterscotch puddings, vanilla pastry creams, Pâte à Choux doughs, Swiss meringue buttercream bases, homemade marshmallows and slow cooked dulce de leche were all made on the black easy clean cooktop with adjustable burner size. In its later years, the stove became part coffee maker, heating the gooseneck kettle every morning throughout the COVID19 pandemic and beyond for pourover coffee.
The range of course was not without issues. Hours prior to a dinner party in 2017, the heating element in the oven broke and the main course, a braised chicken dish for twelve, was scuttled off to a neighbor’s oven to finish cooking. Repairs were made in-house and the oven resumed its job. The next incident came with the onslaught of bread baking during the Spring 2020 lockdowns, when a sudden change in temperature from blazing hot interior to cold exterior resulted in the cracking of the inner oven window, which weeks later fell out in a perfect triangle to the floor of the oven upon a sudden door close. As 2021 started and kitchen renovation plans began, replacement ranges were optioned and it was only a matter of time before the black Spectra™ would serve its last meal.
The range was a valued member of the house for over twenty years and two families— and the meals that were made, the recipes developed, and the parties it helped host are fond memories. A shiny new model might go in its place, but we’ll never forget the meals that were made.
At twenty two years old, the range survived Y2K, six presidential elections (including the stress-baking manifesto of the 2020 Presidential election), dozens of birthday party cakes, cupcakes and cookies, the publishing of a food blog and subsequent newsletter, as well as the early beginnings of the younger members of the household learning to boil water for pasta and cook simple meals in the oven. As the primary user once muttered to herself as she pulled out another weeknight meal from a dark oven with a burnt-out bulb:
“This oven is a piece of shit.”
May it rest in peace.