The Wedding Stove

Back in 1955, my parents got married, built a house, and bought a Norge.

“A Norge?”

Let me put it this way…  Last month my folks celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary, they still live in the same house, and I spent most of August 2012 in front of the stove I learned to cook on — a 1955 Norge.

Mom calls it “The Wedding Stove.”

With a control panel reminiscent of a vintage Chevy dashboard and a dead-on oven thermostat, the Norge was instrumental in bolstering my kitchen confidence.  It was dependable.  I could rely on it.

As an added bonus, the dials lit up in hues from pale amber to stop-light red, depending on whether the burners were set to “lo,” “hi,” or in between.  Very cool.

Then came the great kitchen remodel of 1969, when the Norge was relegated to the basement, replaced by a state-of-the-art JennAir.

After almost 15 years of faithful service, The Wedding Stove became an “extra” to use during the holidays, roasting turkeys too large to fit in the “new fangled” (and much smaller) oven upstairs.

Nestled in a corner of the laundry room next to an ironing board (the one I learned to iron on…), the Norge is flanked by a mirror that once hung in my grandparents’ home, alongside the original kitchen cupboards and sink my sister and I used to argue over.  (You know… “It’s your turn to do dishes” and all that.)

If stoves could talk…

Personally, I think the ol’ Norge has been been waiting for me to come home and run it through its paces again.  After all, it’s a huge adjustment to go from cooking three square meals a day to one or two turkeys a year.

So, when Mom and Dad needed help last month, I offered to stay.  I also offered to cook.  On the Norge.

(And in case you’re wondering why I didn’t use the kitchen upstairs, it’s because of the latest upgrade — a ceramic cook-top stove with a convection oven.)

Honestly, that thing has so many digital read-outs, I was afraid I’d send it into orbit if I accidentally pushed the wrong touch pad.

I call it “The Space Shuttle.” :)

So… down to the basement I went, armed with two cast iron skillets, remnants of Mom’s 1950’s cookware (retrieved from the bottom of the linen closet), and a whole lot of memories.

For the better part of August, I puttered in front of the Norge, just like in the “olden days,” and it performed like a pro.

This faithful “first stove” (for Mom and me) churned out meals that would have made Betty Crocker proud… meatloaf with mashed potatoes, baked ham with glazed carrots, pot roast dinners, homemade soups and stews, chicken and baked potatoes, cookies, quick breads, and pies.

Then I decided to make a “modern day” meal…

And the Norge blew up.

Actually, it kind of popped, followed by a flash and a fizzle… no burners — no oven — no nothin’.  I guess I finally wore it out.

Either that, or it didn’t like “convenience food.”

But Dad sure did.

He took one bite and said, “Whatever this is, it’s goood.

Stuffed Pasta Shells

1 (28 oz.) jar spaghetti sauce (your choice of flavor)

1/2 pkg. jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained

1 chicken breast, cooked and chopped (I used leftover chicken)

1 c. ricotta cheese (or small curd cottage cheese)

1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra for sprinkling)

1 c. shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided (reserve half for the top)

1 egg, beaten

1/2 small onion, diced (green onions are good in this, too)

1/4 tsp. garlic powder, or to taste

Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Ladle enough sauce to cover the bottom of a rectangular baking dish; set remaining sauce aside.

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, cheeses, egg, onion and seasonings; mix well.

Fill each shell with chicken mixture; place in baking dish.

Cover with remaining sauce.

Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese and reserved Mozzarella.

Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes.  Uncover; bake 15 minutes more.

Serve with warm bread or garlic toast, salad, and fresh fruit.

Sorry, no “after” photo — had to finish it in “The Space Shuttle.”

Mom is calling an electrician this week.  Long live The Wedding Stove.

Enjoying a step back in time,

~ Kim