Wow, the warm weather is gone with a winter blizzard bearing down on us, it's time once again to share some stories and how to's. I've decided to write several shorter blogs then one long annual one.
We finally got "The Queen" in better running condition and with all the added bells and whistles we had some amazing "glamping" adventures this season here in Colorado.
Being a perpetual putzer and tinker there is always room for improvement. The only way you'll find out what works for the both of you and what does not; is to use it!
I'll start with the "Oven Adventure". There will be a "Portable Solar Panel Adventure", "Awesome Refrigerator Fan Adventure" and last but not least "A Better Poo Poo Experience Adventure".
On one of our outings we wanted to use the oven to melt cheese in a noodle casserole recipe. Set the oven to 300 degrees, placed the dish in the oven and waited. Thank god we had it in a cast iron dish with a lid. It was bubbling boiling like a witches brew. The thermometer was reading 450 degrees! Holy crap, I turned it down to 200 degrees, there it stayed at 350 degrees. Well, dinner was delicious - lickidy split. However, that oven will not do for baking anything with out incinerating it. Being gluten free, we bake the majority of our stuff.
What to do!
I went on line searching for some information on how to calibrate this oven. Not much of anything. Talked to technicians - nope - their reply was to replace it. Read and reread the original manual that came with. Nothing really matched. I concluded that the original thermostat had been replaced. Tenacity is your best friend in situations like this. There has to be a way to calibrate this little "Susie Home Maker Oven". Being 150 degrees off; is way too hot. This is not going to work for this old gal. We love our fresh baked chocolate donuts on Sunday morning with coffee...
I GOT IT FIGURED OUT!!! I adjusted it in within 3 to 5 degrees to the oven dial with out a lot of special tools. Here's what I did.
Here’s a shot of the stove/ oven. It is the original RV “Traveler” 3 burner oven combination.
It is similar in most older RV kitchens.
Pull the knobs off the shafts. Remove the burner grates, lift & slide the top of the stove off - set it aside. Place the oven temperature knob back on. Light the pilot and turn the setting to 300 degrees. Close the door and let the oven come up to temperature (when the main burner turns itself off). Below is a shot of my little set up. I purchased a 12” X 12” by 1 inch thick pizza stone. You can use any non glazed porous tile arrangement. Place it on the solid shelf. There has to be a gap around all the sides so the heat can rise to the upper compartment. The stone dissipates the heat evenly and prevents burning. There is 3/8” space between the grate and stone. I put a pan on the grate with an oven thermometer. Most of the baking we will do will have some sort of pan. If you go directly on the grate it does increase the temperature by 25 degrees.
Now comes the fun part. Open the door and peak in the oven. Read the oven thermometer. If it reading 375 – it is to hot. If it is 200 it is too low. The thermocoupler and oven thermostat senses when to release gas (propane) or shut it off depending what the dial is set at. Leave the dial set at 300 degrees. Pull it off the shaft. Place a flat screw driver in the slot of the shaft. Mine has the brown wooden handle. Be careful not to force the blade in – get the right size. The shaft is brass and will break easily. Sometimes there are two little screws towards the front of the unit. They are adjustment screws one is for the pilot and the other is for sensor bulb. I’m not going to address that configuration.
Look closely at the photo below there is a little screw in the center of the shaft! That is the adjustment screw to calibrate the temperature of the oven.
Here’s the tricky part. With a little bit of patience… Place a small flat screw driver in the slot of the center screw. Hold the brown screw driver firm and in place preventing the shaft from turning while you turn the little center screw either to right (clock wise) or to the left (counter clock wise). Well - which way does what?? Clockwise reduces the amount of gas therefore decreases the temperature. Counter clockwise increases the amount of gas therefore increases the temperature. Turn the screw in small increments. If the thermometer in the oven is reading high open the door and let the heat out until the main burner comes on. Close it until the burner goes off. Take a reading. Make another adjustment. Put the dial back on the shaft make sure it is set at 300. Repeat these steps until you’re within 25 degrees of one another. The final tweek is ever so slight. Listen for a faint hiss of gas being released in the oven after a gentle super small turn of the center screw. Let the main burner come on and cycle off and on. Checking the oven thermometer if it is maintaining a constant 300 degrees. If your happy with your adjustment lower the temperature on the dial to 200. Check if it maintaining a constant temperature. Do the same at 400 degrees. Voila!!! Put everything back together and turn it off.
I had to do a full turn and a quarter to get the temperature where it needed to be.
I hope this helps for some of our members to get those funky ovens to work just a little better.
I was thrilled!! The next day we took the plunge. We baked a beautiful carrot cake @ 350 degrees in a 8 x 8 cake pan to perfection. It was so good. I look forward to those chocolate donuts on Sunday morning next “glamping” season.
Here's a quick funny cooking story. Our last outing we wanted one of our favorite dinners. Shrimp, artichoke hearts and capers sauted in lemon garlic sauce. Put everything in the CAST IRON SKILLET. Lot's of lemon juice in the skillet. Slowly everthing turned gray. Oh no!!! It tasted fine just looked ugly. Rats. My better half look up at me and screamed in horror. Jump up from the table to the bathroom. She was totally insensed. She was brushing her lips and tonque with the toothbush. At this point I am laughing so hard. What are you doing? Trying to get the black off of my tonque and lips. Look at yourself. By then tears are rolling down my cheeks. We both had black teeth, tongues and lips. What a sight!!! We decided not to venture outside and watched a movie hoping that in the morning everthing would be back to normal. It was. Lesson learned. Do not put lemon juice in a cast iron skillet. It acts as a mild acid and leached iron into the food. By consuming it - we looked pretty silly. We got our vitimans for the day.
Stay tuned for the next adventure. P.