ysabetwordsmith: Victor Frankenstein in his fancy clothes (Frankenstein)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is from the August 2015 Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] chanter_greenie. It also fills the "familiar food" square in my 8-1-15 card for the As You Like It Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] lynnoconnacht. It belongs to the series Frankenstein's Family, and happens shortly after they move into the castle.


"The Proper Thermodynamics of a Warm and Happy Home"


With autumn came a desire
for hot food and familiar dishes.

This would have been fine, for Igor
knew how to cook, except that the castle
came equipped with a stove that was
altogether outside of his experience.

He burned the muffins.
He burned the oatmeal.
He even managed to burn
the big pot of stew.

The roast came out
burned on the outside but
raw on the inside.

Victor found Igor sitting
at the table trying not to cry.

"What's wrong?" Victor asked.

"Sorry, sir, I ruined supper again,"
Igor said. "This sodding stove
hates me, or else is possessed
of a devil, I'm not sure which."

"I don't really believe in devils," Victor said,
"so let us see what may be done about the stove."

The appliance in question was a vast, complex device
made of cast iron with all kinds of different doors and
lids and tanks and other paraphernalia, even before
the shining array of copper pots, kettles, and spoons
that sat on top of it or hung from various hooks.

"Take everything off of the stove," Victor instructed,
"whilst I go find a lab book for our kitchen notes."

By the time Igor had cleared the stove of
all its extra equipment, Victor came back
with book and pencil in hand.

"Now what we're going to do,"
Victor said, "is measure what
the stove does and record it,
so then the results will be
properly replicable."

So they took temperatures in
various places, checked to see
how the wood was burning,
and boiled a pot of water.

Then they boiled some potatoes,
taking one out every five minutes
to find out how long they took to cook.

They toasted bread in the oven hatches
to discover the warmer and cooler spots.

They tapped hot water from the spigots
and measured its temperature as well.

It took a week, all told, for Victor and Igor
to test everything they could think of, but
by the end of it Igor succeeded in cooking
a perfect supper, as familiar as ever.

"I'm almost sorry to reach the end
of our kitchen experiments," said Igor.
"They've been a lot of fun."

Victor looked around at a room meant
to feed a whole castle full of people.
"Well," he said, "we haven't done
the stone ovens or wall hearths yet."

"I'll get the log book," Igor said with a grin.

* * *

Notes:

This is the awesome stove in the castle.

Thermodynamics apply to cooking. The more you understand, the more you can do.

Testing new kitchen equipment applies to ovens, stoves, and other appliances. There are tips for exploring a stove and calibrating an oven. Woodstoves require their own special handling.

Boiling potatoes and toasting bread are two quick, easy, and effective ways of testing cookware.

LOL

Date: 2015-09-17 12:11 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I would've done something similar! Given that AWESOME stove, I'd still be looking for recipes to test the more esoteric functions-- is there a built-in water bath? (An insert that goes over the water reservoir...)

Re: LOL

Date: 2015-09-17 01:29 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Oh, I just had a giggle --I mean, thought-- for later. My lovely tinkerer (Vladimir) getting his first glimpse of that beastie and going, "Come to papa!"-- and scouring the kitchen and kitchen-service areas of the castle until he'd found and made each accessory pristine.

He certainly would love to help, along with clearing the greenhouse cold frames! (Eventually, the many people who understand that Victor doesn't like to entertain will arrange things for the family again, like they did for Christmas!)

Re: LOL

Date: 2015-09-17 03:19 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Would Victor be willing to approve of a festival event where he could drift from kitchen to quiet indoor area, to outdoor dancing or games area, to big feasting area--without having to ORGANIZE any of it, especially if playing official host gave him the "proper" excuse to be able to move from zone to zone and activity to activity as HIS tolerances allowed?

Does he trust his friends in the village enough to let them "make excuses" and pull him out of something when he is simply growing bored rather than overwhelmed?

Re: LOL

Date: 2015-09-17 11:23 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Noted.(Literally.) This would be a great idea in spring, when Vladimir's uncle arrives. Need more hours in a day, or less sleep.

Re: LOL

Date: 2015-09-17 10:52 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
You know... they could structure things so that the POINT of the big autumn party--now that the crops are in and there's TIME for formal schooling-- is to have a big party up at the castle and give the KIDS a "welcome to school" party with Victor. It's quieter, he's not expected to do more than a welcome to the group at the beginning, and kids will lag out as their attention span wanes, leaving him able to focus more with the older and more academically inclined kids.

Doing something similar just before spring planting, where the kids show off TO the mazil what they've learned (and new jobs they're ready for) would act as a very effective graduation ceremony, because it's not fixed-- what are they ready for THIS year?

In return, all of the prep time, canning, and other special projects, help keep the castle stocked in return for the use of the ovens, stove, smokers, etc. In the spring, that means the garden beds, too.

It makes Victor a VERY informal mazil compared to most, but it's also going to guarantee fewer problems with thin rations or outright starvation as a result.

Re: LOL

Date: 2015-09-18 02:01 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
I can see Vladimir looking for excuses to use one of the long hallways in the upper floors as a rope walk, just to have an excuse to come up and visit when it's QUIET.

If others do similar things, there would be a handful of people in the castle, but only socializing if they wanted to.

Re: LOL

Date: 2015-09-18 02:22 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Pointed opportunity for the teens to learn "extra" skills, especially when trading for medical care, as well. The ones who read better than Denes can help him research, and the castle gets a supply of the successful test batches, LOL.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 12:37 am (UTC)
thnidu: A shield-shaped hunk of watermelon rind, with bits carved away to make 2 staring eyes and a mouth. By bensanaz (melonhead)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
OMG, that /stove/!

But given its setting, it's not all that surprising...

Re: Yes...

Date: 2015-09-17 03:15 am (UTC)
thnidu: X RATED Food Porn. The X is a crossed fork & knife (food porn)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
«when people moved out, they took whatever they wanted and left what they didn't» -- or couldn't transport. I'm sure some /wished/ they could take stove.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 01:29 am (UTC)
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
From: [personal profile] mdlbear
That's impressive. Yeah; something that complex takes a lot of calibration.

And I thought our stove with two ovens was fancy! (Well, actually I've used better.)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 02:03 am (UTC)
pinkrangerv: White Hispanic female, with brown hair, light skin, and green eyes, against a background of blue arcane symbols (Default)
From: [personal profile] pinkrangerv
SQUEEE! I am DYING from the fluff, this is WONDERFUL.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 02:21 am (UTC)
zeeth_kyrah: A glowing white and blue anthropomorphic horse stands before a pink and blue sky. (Default)
From: [personal profile] zeeth_kyrah
Awesome! Kitchen science at its best, when you've got an unfamiliar stove and want to know how it works. :)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-09-17 03:17 am (UTC)
thnidu: A place for everything, and everything someplace else (A place for everything)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
:-( My gas stove's oven dial has no markings at all.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-09-17 07:03 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Worth trying, thanks.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-09-18 04:16 am (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
Test it with a water bath-- something easy to find benchmarks for, like a roast (X minutes per pound at 350F, or 375F), and just keep records so you don't break the bank testing all in the same weekend.

A good test is something easy and cheap to make--pie crusts! Make pot pie sized ones and you can test a dozen in a day, easily. Plus, they freeze in a much more compact space than 8" shells. Use foil and lentils/rice/red beans as weights in the pie shell to prevent bubbling, and reuse the weights.

Use a bit of blue tape cut at an angle to make an arrowhead to mark the "good for pie crust" spot, because that's right around 350F. Then work up or down-- the link Ysabetworsdmith included for calibrating the oven included using sugar--which I'm going to do for the first time this weekend, so I have no tips yet for how well it works.

Even a marked oven can be BADLY off calibration, so it's worthwhile to test systematically every couple of years.

Edited (forgot phrase.) Date: 2015-09-18 04:17 am (UTC)

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 04:08 am (UTC)
corvi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] corvi
I love the concrete details of this one, and your stove picture!

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 11:06 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
Love this.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-18 11:55 am (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: Little bear holding a heart with the text "Sending love to you" (sending love and hugs)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Oh, the fluff in this is delightful. I love how they're so easy in their cooperation even now. <3

That is one impressive stove. XD

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-17 03:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] book-worm5.livejournal.com
Wow, that is a neat-looking oven. Also, yay for happy successful science!

Yes...

Date: 2015-09-17 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Wow, that is a neat-looking oven. <<

It's like the Platonic ideal of a wood-fired cookstove.

>> Also, yay for happy successful science! <<

:D They do have fun with it.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-09-25 04:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] paantha.livejournal.com
D'awwwwww. I don't think I've read such sweet science before. Lovely!

Yay!

Date: 2015-09-25 06:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
I'm glad you liked this so much. Put Victor and Igor with almost anything and it turns sweet. There are several "adorable domestic science" poems in this series.

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