My new old oven

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Apr 22, 2021
Photo by: Marion Tucker Honeycutt

Goodwill is a dangerous store.

I wish it weren’t so handily located, so easy to drop in and "just look" to see what might have come in while at the same time reminding yourself that you only going to look and not buy because you have no need of anything nor room for anything else in the house.

My Grammie Tucker used to say: “It isn’t a bargain if you don’t need it.” She also knew the difference between a “need” and a “want.” Of course, back in the late '30s, early '40s of World War II and The Great Depression days, folk had to actively practice these wise sayings.

In addition, back then, you weren’t inundated with advertising from every side. The big spring/summer and fall/winter Sears & Roebuck catalogs were about it. At about 2 inches thick, printed on newsprint-thin paper, there wasn’t much that one would need that wasn’t in those catalogs. (And after you had made your orders, it went on to further service in the "two-holer" down back in the granary.)

You could even order a house that would be delivered, complete with built-in cabinets, bookshelves and everything needed to move right in — as soon as you put it together. Those houses were beautiful and sturdy. Many still stand today and still look great.

Those catalogs were like the meme of the old county store: “If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.” (Actually, here in Maine and in Waldo County, we still have many of those little country stores. And, unlike the big stores which are now mostly owned by some conglomerate in another country, they’re locally owned and run personally and they’re one-stop shopping.

Get your gas, ice, propane out front outside, groceries down the middle, dairy, ice cream, frozen foods, drinks on one side, hardware on the other, hot food and coffee down back, feed for animals and chickens and rabbits in another section, get your deer, turkey and such tagged out front, and chat with the folk that run and work it and with familiar town folk. God Bless them, these stores have been a little oasis of sanity in this world gone mad.

They also remind me of my childhood days and Grammie’s ways.

So a couple of weeks ago as I was driving out of Reny’s Plaza, I dropped in to “just look” around Goodwill. This time, I managed to get out of the store with only one purchase, a “roaster oven.”

I’d never seen one quite like it before. It was sturdily made, like things used to be back in Grammie’s day. Heavy enameled steel, cobalt blue, has a removable black granite-ware liner that fits inside a matching granite-ware well. It needed a power cord, but for $5 I figured I’d still be ahead even if I had to buy a cord.

I grabbed it.

Then I went home and researched it to find out just what cord I needed. (It has the control on the cord instead of the cooker.) I put the “Nesco roaster” in the search bar. I was in for a surprise. The first line in the company web page reads: “NESCO®, the original Roaster Oven has been the leader in roaster ovens since their invention in 1931!” And mine is their first model. It’s older’n me! The company is still in business and I was able to get the correct power cord from them! They have, over the years produced many different models, sizes and colors — and are still adding.

Add to that, it turns out it is indeed a roaster but not just a roaster. It was designed for the “housewives” (remember housewives?) who still cooked on the cast iron wood cook-stoves. Electricity was coming in in the urban areas and now the lady of the house (another title you never hear now) could, in the heat of the summer, cook without sweltering over the wood cook-stove. How Grammie would’ve loved that. But electricity wasn’t put down the long country roads in Webster Plantation until about 1950. We kids had been gone from the farm for a few years by then.

Anyway, back to Nesco’s website. Not only is my find a roaster, but it also’s a slow-cooker (long before any of us ever heard the word,) and a fryer and you can even bake bread in it. It’s also nice looking on the counter. I’ve never liked the look of the glompy looking slow cookers of today so they’re tucked away where I forget I have them. This one is always at hand.

It’s also an electricity saver. Instead of heating up the big space of an oven for a small chicken or loaf of bread, you're only heating a space the size of a cooking pot.

The first meal I cooked with it was a New England Boiled Dinner. Perfect. Then a pork roast. Then a whole chicken, which cooked to perfection. Next, I’m going to try baking bread and rendering ghee.

Side note: Nesco has recipes with instructions on how to use each feature. These and many of Nesco’s other designs are listed on their site and on eBay. The first old design like mine is still going! And in perfect condition.

I got another one on eBay for a birthday present for one of my kids with a sideways reason. Waiting to be invited over for dinner.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a graduate of Belfast schools now living in Morrill.

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