Fr Z’s Kitchen: Hardwear and soft-fare.

This was the situation in the oven.

I was making supper for my mother, smelled the wrong kind of smoke, looked in the oven. The heating element was on fire.


I extracted the corpse.

The blade connectors for the element were being pulled by tension back into the insulation, so I used surgical clamps from my suturing practice.

Turning it on.  A little smoke at first.  My smoke alarm is vicious, so I had a fan going out the window and the vent going.


Meanwhile, since appliances are a pain, my mother’s fridge died, so I had overload, including a beef roast which had been frozen.   Time to make…

Boeuf Bourguignon.

This maximum knife… thanks, KA… I treat with maximum respect.  It’s sharp enough to take off a finger.  And it’s huge, as the dinner fork will demonstrate.

Always put color on the beef.  Don’t crowd.  Work in stages.  I worked with a large oval french oven and a super non-stick frying pan that would be deglazed.


Meanwhile, onions.  I had no salt pork or bacon on hand, so I used a little pork chop for some depth.

Browned clunks get a flour treatment and some roasting in a 450F oven for about 15 min.   The flour with the fat will help to create a velvety gravy.

Some assembly required.  More sprinkled flour.   I had put color on onions, carrots and mushrooms.

Here I recalled that I had a partial can of San Marzanos in the fridge.  In they go.


Wine.  Alas, not from the monks of Le Barroux.


Bouquet is thyme, rosemary, bay.

At this point I must stop.  Firstly, I got busy with something and simply forgot to take more photos.  Also, since it was at this point about 10PM, I wasn’t going to eat any.   I left it, divided it up the next day … today, which is a FRIDAY… and packed it into cold storage for both long term, short term and perhaps distribution.

But I did taste it.  It’s great.   I should serve it with baby peas and either egg noodles or little potatoes.

So, this is an ongoing project that will resolve when some of it is eaten.

But I do have a functioning oven.

EPILOUGE: It took almost two weeks to get my mother’s fridge repaired.  To young people out there, forget about a probably spiritual and intellectually damaging university.  Instead, learn a trade and never be poor again.  You can always study on your own.  As we hear in the movie Good Will Hunting, “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”  Not only that, but you didn’t having commie pervert profs with green streaks in their hair forcing Marxism and feminism and critical race theory down your gullet all while denigrating what you hold to be good, true and beautiful… and holy.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. monstrance says:

    Learn a trade is right !
    I have Bosch double wall ovens that can’t keep a temp to save their life.
    The “Authorized Bosch Service Man” charges $400 just to look.

  2. grateful says:

    God Bless Fr.Z!

  3. Jim Dorchak says:

    Man I am impressed!

    Through out my life I have run into so many people (even my own age) who do not know how to fix little things like this. To pay someone to come out to your house would have cost $350 plus parts at least! My mom and dad made us learn how to fix things and I have done the same for ALL my kids.

    I have changed many of these elements back in the day when I owned and managed my own rental property. I even made sure that I had the same model of appliances in my properties so that I could always have spare elements for the top and oven, as well as fridge parts too and all types of plumbing and electrical parts too. So I think it is cool that you fixed this.

    I have a friend back in SC who is a real athlete who I had to show how to check, CHECK! his own oil in his car, not even change it. All of my kids know these things even our daughter. Here last year my son and I rebuilt our WOOD STOVE. We upgraded the guts with STAINLESS STEEL and better insulation (no electrical elements here).

    We have a friend who’s son graduated from home school only. When he was 12 he started learning from his dad how to fix things and do things. He like most kids liked video games. So he said to himself “I can write and app that would do this better”. He is now 21. When he turned 18 he applied for a job writing apps. No college degree. No $180,000 student loan debt. No wasted 4 years. No indoctrination from the evil dark side found at ALL UNIVERSITIES. He makes $165,000 a year today and travels the world. He was visiting us with his fiance and were going to Europe again after Chile. He works on line. He goes to the company office once a year for a visit in person.

    Look, do/try. learn, do it better or different than everyone else and people will knock down your door to hire to or you can open your own business.

    Love the good food Fr. Z~ Love the life lessons too.

    Also if you ever need help fixing something, long distance, let me know by email and we might have some suggestions to help you save some money. We have made or built everything at our house. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry, tile, welding, farming… we do it all or we do not have it.

    Jim in Chile.

  4. Jim Dorchak says:

    Also Fr Z I forgot. My parts guy back in the former USA for oven elements, told me years ago to never put aluminum foil under the elements on the stove top or in the oven. I causes shorts that could burn the element. Sometimes when you heat aluminum it bends and heaves. If it touches the element it can burn into it like solder and may cause a element to fail. I changed all my ovens to have sacrificial drip pans under them and I would just buy new pans for under the stove top and throw away the old ones once they were too dirty to clean.
    He may be right or may be wrong but I rarely had a failure after he advised me to stop using foil. Jim

    [Thanks for that. There isn’t, wasn’t, any possibility of physical contact. However, as I was putting it in, I wondered about the potential of greater reflection of heat. Thanks for this comment.]

  5. Liz says:

    I’m glad you and your mom were safe, Father, and that your guardian angels took care of you! The food looks delicious. I think it’s good to know how to cook and how to fix things and to be frugal and to try not to waste. I keep hearing that about people waiting and waiting for things to be fixed. I’m grateful that my husband is handy and tries to fix things himself if he can.

  6. Archlaic says:

    Your last comment is spot-on! “Who can find a virtuous appliance guy? for his price is far above a new Jenn-Air!”* We built our house 21y ago and have had a similar string of failures over the past 2-1/2y V2… with six kids one doesn’t simply scoot down to Lowe’s and “buy a new one”! I f I can’t fix it myself I am happy to give the business to a local guy – a real character – who responds promptly, shows up when he agrees to, follows-through on parts orders, etc., and communicates well. He’ll never starve!

    Speaking of starving, you have reminded me that I have a couple of frozen roasts in the deep-freeze… Boeuf Bourguignon sounds like a plan for Sunday dinner!

    *please excuse the King James usage…

  7. Kathleen10 says:

    Who was that guy, MacGuyver? In that old program from the 80’s or so. It’s an excellent thing to be able to creatively fix things. Well done!
    We enjoyed your epilogue about college. I wouldn’t send my child to college today. I have a nephew who is a freshmen and he is already estranged from the family, and doing things that are frankly appalling. He was a nice boy with a lovely Catholic girlfriend. His name starts with A, if anyone would say a prayer for him, thank you. Anyway that was spot on advice, Fr. Z.

  8. acardnal says:

    Good job! How difficult was it to locate a replacement burner element for the oven?

    [The only thing that was difficult was remembering to try to find one. Once I took a careful look at the make of the stove, the shape of the element, and the connector plate, it was pretty easy via Amazon. Click click… using my own LINK to search, of course… I had one in two days. The whole project including unboxing, gathering the tools… 1/4 inch driver, pliers, and then two clamps… took less than 20 minutes. As Sam reminds us, quoting the gaffer, the jobs that take the longest to finish are the ones that are never started. I’m going to have to replace my ailing appliance one day. But not today.]

  9. Charivari Rob says:

    Wow, the oven again?! My sympathies.
    Didn’t you just have to replace something else on it last winter?

    [Let’s just say that I procrastinated.]

  10. BeatifyStickler says:

    Hey Father, you mind shipping a plate of that up to Alberta Canada? ?

  11. teomatteo says:

    “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”

    Epi-epilouge: well I wouldnt say ‘I wasted’ because that debt was picked up by the tax payers”.

  12. Mike says:

    Always a challenge cooking at an elderly parent’s house! It looks, however, wonderful!

    I am actually cooking Craig Claiborne’s recipe for beef stew today. Seeing your post, I realize I forgot the flour. Oops. However, my roux is nice and rice, so it should be okay. Mashed potatoes and asparagus with lemon butter, plus salad, for tonight.

    Bon apetit!

  13. TheCavalierHatherly says:

    University isn’t a waste if you know what direction to learn and who to learn it from: I got quite a fine education from an otherwise… adequate? Institute. I got to learn Latin, Ancient Greek, Hebrew, French, (I never had time for the Coptic and Old Norse courses, unfortunately), I got to read Beowulf in Old English, I got to read St. Thomas and Scotus, Plato and Aristotle… I skipped classes to drink and play pool, I read books from the library when I was supposed to be reading my assigned readings, smoked my pipe and read Cicero down by the river… Et in Arcadia Ego. Worth every penny.

    Now I’m an electrician and people pay me to reset breakers and change lightbulbs. And other, more difficult things. But I doubt without my university days I could have revelled in the poetic genius of Seneca’s “Thyestes” over the course of a month’s lunch breaks, or lost my greek copy of Plato’s Apology in a mall parking lot while at work (I’ve still never read the very end…)

    My wealth comes from the what I learned, and learned to learn, at the feet of several great professors. My money comes from fixing broken things.

  14. acardnal says:

    FYI, for those who are interested in repairing things themselves instead of paying a fortune to someone to make the repairs, there are many, many, many “how to” videos available on YouTube that show you how to troubleshoot and repair just about any appliance!

  15. hwriggles4 says:

    Fr. Z:

    First, Roy Desoto would be proud to know that you can make Beef Bourginone.

    Second, I can relate to fixing things. I do what I can and I am glad I had a father who taught my brothers and I a few things. The Boy Scouts also had a Home Repair merit badge which I believe still exists. I have helped strangers stranded from time to time with changing tires and recharging batteries. Many years ago I did the “hammer bang” to a starter which saved a stranger a tow but in today’s climate if it hadn’t worked I probably would have been responsible for some liability (I think people get what I am saying).

    Third, we had a backyard pool which was a pain to maintenance (i.e. clean,back flush, scrub,chlorinate, etc.) Contrary to popular belief pools are not all fun and games. After my dad died I called around checking on getting a service contract for pool maintenance (i.e. give mom a break and I would pay for it). After calling a few places I said “I am in the wrong business – these contracts cost around as much as a gym membership.” If any of you know some younger people pool maintenance (in the southern United States) is a lucrative business and recession proof. If I had a son between 18-25 I might steer him to become an HVAC technician or a plumber, which is in the same boat as pool maintenance.

  16. hwriggles4 says:

    Fr. Z:

    I once read a post somewhere (I think it was here) about a priest who got certified to do boiler maintenance (this was up north) and how much money he saved the parish by doing this. A few years back I read a book about a guy (book was written c.1982) who was in minor seminary from 1958-1965 (he discerned out). At this seminary in Alabama (it closed circa 1974) the seminarians helped grow crops, helped with the harvest, and took turns firing up the coal furnace before bedtime. I guess several places (particularly if one was going to be in a rural area or on a mission in a faraway land) learned skills like this because self-reliance would be needed and a seminarian had to “be prepared” for anything.

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