After attempting to use the oven on the RV style stove (3 burners, ultra small oven capacity with crappy temperature control and unreal fuel consumption) it was obvious that it only had limited usefulness. In terms of fuel consumption, I’d never seen anything like it, although we are exploring some other potential reasons for an apparently bizarre use of our propane (like a blockage/dirt in the lines.) Still, I wasn’t happy with the oven. A whole chicken was even out of the question, as the limited height as well as width by length possibilities of the oven said it was designed for biscuits and pizza.
Now I am an accomplished campfire cook, with ample camping equipment, but face it…who wants to drag out a 30 lb cast iron dutch oven and build a campfire every time you want to roast a piece of meat? (GM & I don’t eat a lot of meat, but we usually do have something roasted a few times a month.) Other alternatives, such as a slow cooker, stove top dutch oven, camp oven (sits on top of a camp stove) or reflector oven were also possibilities, but once again…if its raining and cold…who wants to be bothered with all of that outside?
Next option was a toaster or convection oven. I’ve owned both in the past, and while toaster ovens in general don’t impress me, I always loved the convection oven. I could have “fried” foods without the grease and yet with the crunch and flavor we associate with frying. A toaster oven wasn’t going to be a huge improvement over what I had…I’d just be substituting electricity for the propane. So off on the hunt for a bargain priced convection oven with as much capacity as possible, and I already knew I did not want a “turbo” oven (those round glass convection ovens typically using a halogen bulb for heat.)
Overstock.com got my attention with a refurbished Cook’s Essential convection oven with numerous capabilities, including a rotisserie, slow cook, convection, and normal “toaster” oven. With a .9 cubic foot capacity, it was the largest one in my price range. I also was really attracted to the idea of a rotisserie, even though I knew it would never be able to hold even a small turkey, the ability to do chicken, pork, beef, cornish game hens, and maybe even a turkey breast was appealing.
I ordered it Friday, and it arrived on Tuesday…for $1 shipping (their normal price is $2.95 for your order…which is really nice since many companies really sock it to you on shipping and handling!) It costs me that much to make a trip to the local Walmart! In addition, anyone who has shopped with Amazon knows…shipping can be quite erratic and slow if you choose their free shipping option (when its available.)
The specs on their website said it measured 18x12x12. (Here’s the webpage.) My measurements indicate that it measures about that, although the depth is more like 12 3/4″. They neglected to indicate the interior measurements, as in what size pans would work. The largest pan possible to sit on the racks would be about 10×12″, just shy of the typical 9×13″ baking pan. Height wise, nothing over 5 1/2″ should be baked in the oven, although the upper heating element is about 6″ above the lowest rack. That’s plenty of room for a turkey breast or whole chicken, and I can’t imagine buying a beef or pork roast larger than that!
The directions received with the oven are minimal. Nothing to write my mother about there, that’s for sure! No recipes, and not much else. Some directions on assembling the rotisserie, basic operation information, that’s it.
Just out of the box, the stove looks great–no sign of refurbishment there. Plugging it in and turning it on to ensure that it works, I’m also impressed at its relative quiet operation. Having owned other convection ovens previously, they can be quite noisy. In a travel trailer, that noise can become deafening quickly, so a lower volume is greatly appreciated.
It does appear massive when you receive it, far larger than what I had imagined. In a travel trailer without counter space, that is an issue. For operation, my solution is to park it on top of the stove, leveling the legs with the use of props on the side where it drops off of the stove top. Obviously, I could not use it and the stove at the same time! (I also would recommend not using any other power-hogging appliances at the same time for risk of blowing a circuit. Appliances with heat or the microwave are huge power hogs when they are on.)
Plugging it in for its test run, it does throw out a noticeable amount of heat from the front, which is not a real issue with winter weather but would become more of a problem in summer with the air conditioner on. Warnings of hot surfaces tempted me to check the sides & top. The top does get fairly hot fairly quickly, although the sides are not as hot. In summer, and clear weather, I think I’d be tempted to set this outside on a table to cook with, and avoid the heat issue indoors entirely.
Storage is going to be a problem when we are not using it. I’ll admit that. GM rolled his eyes as he carried in the massive box. Weighing 10 lbs., it’s not terribly easy to move around, yet its not so heavy to make it impossible. I’m going to have to get more creative with storage and organization! Many of my larger pots, pans, baking pans, etc. are going to have to “disappear”, a realization I have reluctantly accepted as the reality of the situation. Fortunately, I’m able to “loan” them to my daughter for possible retrieval later. (Okay, dim hope…as anyone with a daughter they’ve done the same thing with, but hey, it’s better than selling them or donating them! At least I can go to her house and use them!)
Tomorrow, I’ll bake some biscuits in the new oven and give it a test run for more than just heating up and operating. So far, with the test run complete, it’s got all “A+” ratings from me. Overstock.com certainly delivered fast too.