For Love of Cooking

The overwhelming urge to bake something--anything--finally motivated me to scrub the homemade, fume-free, baby-safe cleaner out of my very old and blackened oven last weekend. I was pleasantly surprised with how well the cleaner worked and how the oven (mostly) came clean. Suffice it to say that I emptied bowl after bowl after bowl of Turkish-coffee-colored water as I rinsed my sponge.

Since then, I've baked. . .well, quite a few things. Enough to know that it's a bad idea to bake during the afternoon or with the windows closed--unless I want to turn the whole house into an oven. Cakes, cookies, and more have come out just perfect, however, and I am pleased with The Ancient One's performance.

The cleaner? For any of you who are environmentally-conscious, fume-phobic, or just plain thrifty, make a paste of 1 part each baking soda, salt, and water. Smear it in the oven. Bake at 500 degrees for one hour. Cool and wipe out.

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