Repairing an electric Frigidaire oven

Repairing an electric Frigidaire oven

The other day I was preheating the oven to make some tasty chicken nuggets. Suddenly the oven made a loud noise and lit up like there was a fireball inside. A moment later the breaker tripped. After the oven cooled down I took a look inside and found out that the heating element burned out. It made quite a mess and left some minor cosmetic damage on the bottom of the oven.

burned-element

close-up-element

The heating element was burned all the way through. Luckily, this is an easy to replace part. I searched the internet for my oven model number to find the correct part number for the heating element, then ordered a new one off of Amazon. Installation was incredibly easy. I flipped the breaker at the outside panel, unscrewed the burned out element, popped it off, popped on the new one, screwed it on, and turned the breaker back on. Done! Super easy.

Unfortunately, there was damage to the control board that wasn’t noticeable until the new element was plugged in and turned on. There was an extremely annoying tone whenever the element was on. This is what it sounded like (the tone starts 4 seconds into the file):

I did some more searching online and discovered that this was likely a bad relay on the control board. So back to the outside panel, flip the breaker again, take off the back cover of the oven, find the model number for the control board, and order another online. This time I used PartSimple (they had the best price I could find from a reputable site). Keep in mind that appliance parts are often manufactured by multiple companies. What matters is that the control board part number matches and it looks like it has the same parts in the same places, not who made it.

Installing the control board was a bit more complicated than installing the new heating element. I again flipped the breaker at the outside panel, then I carefully unhooked everything attached to the control board. The connections were conveniently color coded so I was able to write down which color went to which part of the board. I like to be extra careful, so I took a few photos with everything still attached as a reference.

wires

Next, I unscrewed and removed the old board. The new board didn’t come with the front piece with the button labels. I carefully pulled the front piece off of the old board and placed it on the new board. It was just glued on, and most of the glue was still tacky so I didn’t have to put new glue on it.

front-view

Finally, I screwed the new board in, attached the wires, closed up the oven, flipped the breaker, and voila! Chicken nuggets without an annoying high pitched tone!

Altogether this cost me $134.18, including tax and shipping. I’m not exactly thrilled at the cost, but definitely cheaper than hiring a repairman or buying a new oven.

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Move by Number

Move by Number

Boxes

For our recent move to Texas, I decided to try something a little different when packing our boxes. Instead of labeling them with the room they were from and scribbling a brief description of its contents, I simply labeled each box consecutively with a number. I.E., 1, 2, 3, 4… all the way up to 125. No marking for which room the contents were from. No labeling as to the boxes contents. Just a number, written on all four sides and the top.

The next step was to create a spreadsheet in Google Drive that listed each box number and its size (small, medium, large, wardrobe, etc..). As each box was packed I created a detailed list of its contents. A few examples:

  • BW printer. Toolbox. Dishes. Mom’s diary. Tupperware.
  • Dutch oven. Purses. Anna’s sheets. Our sheets. Anna’s blanket. Becca’s long sleeve shirts.
  • Living room computer. Long pillow. Plastic tub of clothes. Anna’s train from her birthday. Party hats. Boo flashlight. Jacob’s pullover. Anna’s heavy coat.

Becca was a bit skeptical at first, but in the end this made it extremely easy to pack and to unpack. We had the movers put all the boxes into our two extra bedrooms (they’ll eventually be an office/craft room and a guest bedroom). It made it faster and easier than trying to figure out which box went to which room, and kept the whole house from being flooded with boxes. Next, we figured out what we needed to unpack immediately. For example, I needed my toolbox. A quick search of my list showed that my toolbox was in a medium box labeled 100. Only took a moment to find it once I knew the size and number. We did the same thing with clothes and everyday cooking items (like pans, dishes, glasses..). We didn’t even begin opening the boxes that contained unimportant items (like books) until over a week after delivery.

It wasn’t a perfect system though. I didn’t think to label plastic tubs or mirror boxes. If I did it again I’d label absolutely everything. We also ran into a few snags where the movers (without our knowledge or permission) reboxed a few boxes. On the plus side we knew if something was missing because we had a detailed inventory, but on the downside it made it difficult to find a few boxes because they were no longer numbered. I think the solution to that is to hire better movers or move things on my own next time.

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Pantry moths and weevils

My family went on vacation last month. We were home for maybe 2 days of August. We cleaned out our fridge before we left, threw out a few opened packages from the counter (like cereal and bread), and enjoyed our time away from home.

We loved our vacation but it still felt good to be home at the end of it. Sadly, our enjoyment was short lived. It wasn’t long before we found pantry moth larvae climbing up our walls, and a few days later we were being bugged by full grown moths. Egh. The next day we found weevils in our flour. Ah! Bugs everywhere!

Clean-up

The first step was to order moth traps. These use pheromones to attract the male moths to a sticky trap. The girls can’t get pregnant, and your moth problem ends quickly.

Next, we killed all the bugs we could find. We smushed the larvae, killed the moths, threw out all the food that the weevils could possibly have infested, and threw out shelf liners that could have eggs on them.

Cleaning is vital. We vacuumed out the cupboards then wiped them down with white vinegar. We bagged up the trash (and the vacuumed gunk) and took it outside, away from the house.

Over the next week we were vigilant. We frequently checked the kitchen for moths and weevils, and killed any we could find. A few moths got caught in the trap (yay!), but I think we caught it early enough that it didn’t become too big of a disaster. Haven’t seen a moth or a weevil in a few days.

Prevention

This mess caused me to spend a few hours online trying to figure out how to keep this from happening again. The most effective thing I’ve found is to store grains, flours, nuts, and other food products in hard plastic or glass containers instead of the flimsy bags they are sold in. Bugs can easily eat through bags and cardboard. Plastic tubs and glass jars are much safer.

For long term storage, vacuum sealing and oxygen absorbers are highly effective. Most bugs need oxygen to survive. No oxygen, no bugs. We already store most of our long term stuff (including pasta, rice, and flour) in half gallon jars. We use a vacuum sealer to get most of the air out. We are going to start using oxygen absorbers (available cheap from the LDS church) to make it even more effective.

Some people suggest freezing. Freezing doesn’t destroy the eggs, so to be effective you have to freeze for 2-3 days, thaw for 24 hours, and then repeat several times to ensure everything is dead. Vacuum sealing is much faster and easier. Once the food is out of the freezer, it is of course possible for it to be re-infested. Again, not an issue with vacuum sealing.

Some people suggest including bay leaves in the storage container. I’m not an agricultural expert, but Utah State University has done some informal testing and is convinced that this is an old wives tale, and isn’t effective at preventing or correcting an infestation (see this page, or this PDF, or this other PDF). Either way, vacuum sealing is essentially free once you have the equipment and is a proven method of prevention and correction, so I don’t see a reason to use bay leaves.

The last bit of advice should be obvious, but I’m still a horrible offender: throw out old food! I have a habit of buying new ingredients for new recipes. These recipes are almost always flops, so I end up with bags and bags of strange foods in my cabinet. Take some time every few months to run through your cabinets and toss stuff that is expired or never going to get used.

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Cake-in-a-jar

Cake-in-a-jar

Cake-in-a-jar (CIAJ) is a safe way to store prepared cake for a long period of time using mason jars. If prepared properly, CIAJ will last for several months at room temperature, and even longer refrigerated.

Use pint wide mouth mason jars. Jars should be clean and free of chips in the glass. Seals (the flat lid) should be boiled to kill bacteria and to saturate the rubber seal.

Preparation is very easy. Simply prepare the batter from a mix (or from scratch if you prefer), and put 1 cup batter into jars. Put jars on a cookie sheet (to prevent them from tipping over on the wire rack in the oven) and cook following normal cooking instructions for the mix you used.

Use a long toothpick to ensure that the cake is done. Generally you want the cake to be a pinch drier than normal, as steam that is normally lost from the cake will be held in by the mason jars lid.

Once done cooking, carefully clean the mouth of the jar so that it is free of any crumbs (to ensure a good seal), put on the seal, and loosely screw on the band. Allow to cool.

Jars properly prepared last at least a month. I recommend putting a one-month expiration date on the jar so you don’t accidentally eat a crazy old jar of cake.

Corn Bread in a Jar

So I’m trying corn bread in a jar right now. One box of Jiffy Mix only makes about 1 1/2 cups of batter, so to get the same as a normal box of cake mix you’ll need to use 3 or 4 boxes of Jiffy Mix.

Looks like it turned out ok. Tastes ok, but of course corn bread is tastier warm so the jar is probably just best as a replacement for a muffin pan if you don’t have one.

Gifts

Have a friend living far away? Send them CIAJ and a can of frosting for birthdays and holidays.

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Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Still in the oven

Last week I splurged and bought Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. This is quite possibly the best book I have ever purchased.

My wife and I are both familiar with making bread. She has a recipe for bread she loves, and I’ve made bread following several different recipes online. It always turns out good, but takes a lot of work and a ton of time to make. A book that claimed to let us make even better bread with just a few minutes of work made us both a little skeptical.

The book includes several different base recipes, and for each recipe there are many additional recipes that take a little more work. For example, you might take a base recipe and cook the dough a little differently and get pita bread or naan. To start, I did the easiest and simplest recipe in the book.

I was surprised at the ingredient list: water, yeast, salt, and flour. I had always been told that you had to add sugar to give the yeast something to eat, but it turns out this isn’t needed.

I was also surprised at the process: put the water, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Dump in all the flour. Mix it up. That is it. No waiting for the yeast to “wake up” and start doing its thing. No kneading the dough. I didn’t even have to pay attention to how wet the dough was. My first batch was very wet and my second batch was much drier, but both turned out awesome with literally no more than 5 minutes of effort.

Ready to eat!

Once everything is mixed up, you let it sit on the counter for a few hours, and then it is ready to either turn into a loaf of bread or stick in the fridge to use later (or both).

Creating the loaf was easy, too. Grab a ball of dough, let it sit for 40 minutes, slice the top however you want, then put it in the oven for 30. I’ve made 5 loaves so far and each turned out perfect without having to pay careful attention to timing.

You also don’t need much equipment. The bare minimum is a cooking stone (easily obtained at Walmart or Target) and a cutting board. If you want to go all out, you can make your life a little easier by using a pizza peel, a cooling rack, and a kitchen scale.

For our most recent loaf, Becca and I looked up a honey butter recipe (3/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup honey, drop of vanilla) and had the most amazing fresh homemade bread ever!

Anyways, buy the book. It is only $14.81 on Amazon, and definitely worth it.

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