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Do I need an oven?


Maureen B. Fant
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I'm in the enviable position of starting from scratch with a small pied-à-terre kitchen. With the emphasis on small. It's about 6 x 7 feet. Although I don't expect to use it for dinners for 12, I will definitely be cooking, not just heat up takeout.

I love my Cuisinart toaster oven and use it for everything but large fish and roasts. When I suggested to some friends that I thought I could do with one of those and a cooktop, they said oh no, you need an oven, think of resale, et cetera.

I'm sure I'd use it sometimes, but the toaster oven is so handy (and I'll need a toaster), though it would take precious counter space, and cabinet space is never sufficient. My husband says to ignore resale in deciding. Also, it has been suggested that we have a combination microwave-hood over the stove.

Since the stove has to be 24 inches, I'm inclining toward the Bertalozzi range (if I decide for the oven). The alternative would be their smallest cooktop, which would rob a bit of counter space, but I could live with it.

Is it foolhardy to plan a new kitchen without an oven?

Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Perhaps this is the minimalist in me talking but I think you'd be just fine with just an induction hob (or perhaps one of those smaller induction cook tops.) If you do decide to use some counter space or cabinet space for either an oven or a microwave, perhaps a small combination steam/convection/microwave oven would work for you. I spy one on Amazon that uses only 3 square feet. Those are actually two appliances I have been wanting for a while now. Are you in one of those urban microspace situations? Because I have always found those homes fascinating and I would actually love to try it out one day.

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No rush.

It's never silly to not buy something you're unlikely to use. Besides, even if you don't get an oven now, it doesn't rule out your ever doing so; you can change your mind later. At the very least take your time considering this, and comparing your options. When I think about Italian food, the oven isn't really so desperately crucial (I grew up in Florence, where the food is somewhat different, but still).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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When my husband and I renovated the kitchen in a previous house we opted for no oven. We had a drop-in range top and a counter-top convection oven and managed just fine. Today I have a full range but the oven cannot be used because I have two induction hobs where the burners used to be. In order to use the oven I must move those AND empty all the pans out of the oven! I do that maybe twice a year if I want to roast a large rib of beef. My Breville Smart Oven takes care of all my other baking/roasting needs. It does take up a lot of counter space but consider putting it on a rollaway cart if necessary and keeping it elsewhere - perhaps just outside the kitchen itself. And this only if after a while you decide you must have an oven.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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Personally, I'd be lost without an oven (a full-size one, the kind that fits under a 6-burner gas range), but I think it all comes down to the style of cooking you're used to. If in your old home you used the oven to store pans, you probably don't need one in your new space, particularly if you've got a good toaster-oven combo.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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My main question is: What would you do with the under-stovetop space? If it's a specialty storage cabinet that you'd love to have but won't be able to put anywhere else, then get the stovetop. If it's general storage, then get the range and use the oven for storage, as you said. It would help the place's resale-ability (assuming the unit is still working then), and the oven would be there just in case you need it (which you said you occasionally do).

I'd also get the under-counter microwave, again just in case (and for the convenience). IMHO, the "hood" feature is pretty much useless unless it vents to the outside, but no matter.

You might want to consider upgrading to the full-sized Breville "Smart Oven" (eG thread here).

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

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I think if I were faced with that dilemma, I would opt to put a couple of slide-out drawers under the stove-top, and put two or even three sous vide immersion circulators, or even a couple of rice cookers and PID controllers there.

For the last four years, I scarcely ever turn on the oven except maybe to cook a pizza, whereas the sous vide rigs are in daily use.

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I think it clearly comes down to "what do you like to eat and how many people do you cook for?" In terms of cooking potential versus space requirement I think full-size ovens are at the bottom of the efficiency scale, but if you are a bread baker it's worth the tradeoff.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I never thought I could get along without a large oven but for the past few years I have done quite well with smaller ones.

I have a Sharp Convection Microwave combination oven that serves two purposes and it bakes breads, cakes, etc., as well as broiling, roasting and so on, plus use as a microwave - and it has a larger capacity than most.

I posted some photos of it in action in this topic.

Panasonic also makes an excellent combination unit.

and has slightly more power than the Sharp.

I did have a chance to try the Sharp SuperSteam oven but the interior capacity is much less than the combi oven I have and it is a bit more tricky to use and get consistent results.

I also have a Cadco convection oven 1440 wats, which has a much larger capacity (takes half-size sheet pans 13"x 17 3/4")

than the Breville Smart oven, which in my opinion is a glorified toaster oven - and it draws so much electricity 1800 watts, that you can't operate another appliance on the same circuit - unless you have a 30 amp circuit and most are 15-20 amps.

A neighbor has one and had it on the same circuit as her fridge - every time the fridge compressor started while the Breville was toasting, the circuit breaker would trip and nothing else was on that circuit. She tried it on the same circuit as her coffee maker and had the same problem. She had to move it into the next room - laundry - and as long as the washer and dryer are not in use, works just fine.

It does work great as a toaster oven, bakes small pizzas, pies, rolls and so on but do check the interior dimensions to see if your baking pans will fit. My neighbor tried to bake a loaf of bread and it rose so much it stuck to the top of the oven.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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If you're just planning to replace the oven with a storage cabinet, then I would probably prefer the versatility of getting an oven and using it as a storage unit 90% of the time. You lose out on a tiny bit of storage space but you gain for the couple of times a year you absolutely need a large oven.

PS: I am a guy.

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You talk about the resale value of your home. Are you planning to live there a long time? If not, I can't imagine that the realtor wouldn't make you install an oven before your place went to market. Would you want to buy it now or then? I think it would be cheaper to install now rather than later because you wouldn't have cabinets to rip out. That's something to consider if you are there short term.

Edit: Ha! Mark D. and I were thinking the same thing at the same time!

Edited by runwestierun (log)
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You can use the oven as storage space. You can't use your drawers/cabinets as an oven. To me, it isn't about if you use it often or not, but will you ever need to use it. If you don't put one in and then decide you need to use it for something, then what? Yes, there are alternatives. But will they end up costing more or taking up precious counter space?

The way I see is, if you can absolutely live without one, then don't put one in. If you think you will need it once or twice a year, put one in.

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Thank you all for all these valuable thoughts. Unfortunately, you make a very convincing case for both sides of the question. The situation is this: I live in Rome, where I cook a LOT and have a modest but fully equipped and functional kitchen and store pans in the oven, which I do use, but less than once a month. The new, seriously smaller kitchen is in New York (my mom's old studio apt), where I will go occasionally, never sublet, and have no plans to sell (except in that one never knows). For the few weeks a year I'm there, I expect to cook for two, occasionally four or six. The Cuisinart toaster-oven suits my life in Rome on a daily basis and think it would suit me in New York too. I almost never bake, but I do like to roast and cook fish and vegetables in the oven. When my microwave in Rome died, I waited a while to see if I wanted to replace it, and decided I'd rather have the space since in the meantime I had acquired the Cuisinart.

I have some time before I have to commit, but on balance it seems I should get the range and just stick pots in the oven till I need it, but I'm going to investigate all the alternative suggestions. In this apartment a gas stove is the only option. Every inch of counter space is precious. Probably the ideal would be to get the range and have an over-the-range toaster-oven possibly with convection and microwave too, except I don't think it exists.

Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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