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Dimple's Mom

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  • Re: AGA range and cooker

    Yes, do have one. I'll address a few of the things others said about Agas, some true, some not true.

    First, the Aga I have is what is called a 4-oven Aga and it is 'on' all the time. It does not heat up the house overly much at all. In fact, we do not have heat in our kitchen (long story but our heater broke in Nov 2006) and our kitchen is freezing in the winter and much of the summer. I live in the PNW, on an island off the coast of Washington State. It never gets real hot here. But even in he summer when it's 70, 80, or even 90 (rare, I admit), the Aga is not heating up the kitchen unless you have the hob up (and with any stove, turning on the burner would start heating up your kitchen).

    There are 2-oven models and also 3-oven models. You can get them with gas burners or the 'plates/hobs' that were what originally came with an Aga. You can also get the 4-oven model with 2 hobs and a warming plate (what I have) or 2 hobs and burners instead of a warming plate.

    You can also get an Aga stove that is much like a regular stove/oven and it is not on all the time. There are various models. I have a friend who has one of those models and she loves it.

    With an Aga like mine, that is on all the time, you can choose to run it at less than full power all the time. People do that during the summers if they live in warm places (I think my installer really loaded up on the insulation because I just do not get the residual heat that people often relate to Agas) or to save on fuel costs when you're out of town or bbqing a lot in the summer, etc. You shouldn't turn it all the way off because the ovens, which are cast iron, can rust.

    You can get the Agas to run on propane or electricity and one other option, I forget exactly what. You can also get different venting options depending on where you kitchen is in relation to the roof and outside walls. Ours runs on propane and is vented up through the roof. In England they sell a model that also heats up your water and circulates it, but that is not avail in the U.S.

    They are heavy but unless you live in an old house, you won't need your floor reinforced. We did not need that. If you do need it, it's normally a simple matter of adding a couple joists under where the Aga sits. I've never heard from anyone that it was a big issue.

    The Aga is brought in in pieces and built right in your kitchen. First they put a 'plinth' down which is fireproof and then they build the Aga on top of that. It's ceramic and cast iron with some stainless steel pieces. Yes, very heavy. Once you put it in, you don't move it, even a fraction of an inch. If you want to take it out, it's dismantled again in pieces and taken out that way. A certified Aga installer is needed to put them in and I would also use the same to take one out, if you want to sell it or reuse it.

    Brand new they are expensive but you can find used ones for a comparable amount of money to what you'd pay for a new viking or wolf. The Agas that are not on all the time are considerably less money and are in the same range as other high end ranges.

    Agas don't need a hood over them, so you save money there.

    They're extremely efficient cookers and do a wonderful job with things like roasts and veggies. The only thing you can't do in an Aga is broil. There is no broiler.

    They are not status symbols. In fact, imo they are quite ugly! But they will be a presence in your kitchen and like BGE owners, many Aga owners name their Agas. (Ours is Dorothy.) Agas have a similar cult-like following as do BGEs. In fact, I first heard about the BGE on the Aga Lovers yahoo forum. (There are a number of Aga forums around and if you're really serious, I recommend joining one or two to ask questions and just read about what others have to say.) I had ordered our Aga and was waiting for it (a several month long wait) and someone mentioned I might want to look at the BGE while I waited as it was the bbq-ers version of the Aga. The rest is history as now we have both. :)

    There is a whole different cooking style on the Aga than on a regular range. Most people buy the Aga because that cooking style suits them, not because they want a status symbol in their kitchen. Because of the way the Aga works, it just does not attract status symbol types of people. It's not a snobby way of cooking. It's down home cooking, and attracts people who like to stay in their jammies all day sipping tea and people who have dogs and cats that lounge in front of the Aga and shed all over the black Aga top.

    With a regular range, you cook 80% on the stove top burners and 20% inside the ovens. With an Aga, that is reversed. A lot of things you do on the stove top, I do inside one of the ovens. The ovens are held at 4 temps - roasting oven (RO) at 450, baking oven (BO) at 350, simmering oven (SO) at 250, and warming oven (WO) at 150. The 2-oven model has the RO and SO. The 3-oven model has the RO, BO, and SO. You can put a 'cold shelf' into one of the ovens (looks like a cookie sheet that fits on rungs inside the oven) and it will drop the temp of that oven below the cold shelf. So if you don't have a BO, you use the cold shelf to drop the temp and bake at the lower temp in the RO.

    Each oven is hotter near the top and cooler near the bottom. So if I have something that wants to be baked at 325, I put the rack on the bottom of the BO and put my dish on that rack and now I'm cooking at 325 instead of 350. If I want to bake at 375, I cook at the top of the BO.

    If I want to simmer stock or soup or sauce, I bring it to a boil on the boiling plate (BP) and once it comes to a boil, I transfer it to the SO. Once the hobs are opened, heat loss begins so you don't want them open for much more than 20 mins. The BP is about 700 degrees in the center (cooler around the outside) and the simmering plate (SP) is about 350 in the center. They are large and you can fit more than one pot or pan on them at a time and you can move them around to get the amount of heat you want. You can cook directly on the SP - grilled cheese and pancakes are 2 common uses. Also you can do toast directly on the SP, which is how I do toast. Many people use the toast holder that comes with the Aga (also comes with 2 pans and the cold shelf) or do it inside the RO.

    There is usually more than one way to cook something using the Aga, so it's quite versatile. Does a wonderful job of cooking big holiday dinners because you have all these ovens to play around with. Being ceramic, food stays ridiculously moist (even if you overcook) for a long time. The ovens are very forgiving. You'd have to really work at it to get a dried out chicken or turkey or meatloaf.

    Most Aga distributors hold demos. Ours had a wonderful free demo where you went with a lot of other people, sat at dining tables, and they cooked breakfast, lunch, and dinner items and talked about what they were doing, why, answered questions, etc. It was a super fun event and I highly recommend it, even if you aren't getting an Aga. :side:

    If you, or anyone else, is seriously considering one, drop me an email with your phone and I'll call you and answer any questions. (We have free long distance on our land line.)

    Wonderful for drying clothes! This is before we painted the plinth (base) black and before we had a cupboard built to sit on the right of the Aga, which you can barely see in the next photo. We moved things around in the kitchen and the Aga sits on its own wall (our kitchen is very oddly designed and not in a good way) and then had a very narrow space to the right of the Aga, about 18 inches, that we had a carpenter build a custom cupboard/cabinet for.

    Aga044.jpg

    picfromJena.jpg

    Door #5, the thermocouple
    Aga045.jpg
  • Re: Best Mother-in-Law ever

    Be sure your first meal on the egg is her favorite!
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