The dirty on oven cleaning

You think you've seen it all with these on-telly cooking shows, aspiring young chefs, the grumpy dismissive old guys they all fawn over, shiny modern equipment, fabulous fresh foods, dishes to die for.

But what you never see is what's real, the elephant in the kitchen, the dirty oven.

Burnt black, greasy too, a fire and health hazard - they are a feature of most kitchens, oft times desperately traded in for a newer model, and for newer read "cleaner".

Over years we have been tempted with ovens described as self-cleaning: turn something to hot and come back and find a neat little pile of safe clean cool ash on the floor of the oven.

Or buy a pack of clean greenie cloths. Touch not force fed burney cleaner; use mild gentle organic cloth.

What they don't tell you is that you must use these every 10 minutes during the cooking process (nah don't worry about getting burned; you are getting cleaning done), and then immediately afterwards, perhaps every hour you remain up after dinner and just a gentle wipe over in the morning to be sure.

This is not your face. This is an oven we are working on.

The truth is that oven cleaning remains hard dirty work. The more you cook the more you must clean.

We don't count a poached egg.

We are talking a week's worth of roasts and lamb shanks, sausages and chops, date scones, afghan biscuits, mousetraps with tomato and bacon and some cheese rolls too.

Now that self cleaning oven had another trick. It would cook your roast dinner ready to serve at 7pm.

We turned it on and came home to nothing - no roast, no nice crispy crunchy potatoes. Nothing.

So we forgot how to use that little clock and did it the old way, putting a roast in and cooking it; no disappointment there.

We forgot how to work the self clean mechanism too.

We use something like 1080 that we deplore - because it will do the job.

The Southland Times