Goodbye, My Gadgets

A holiday cabinet-cleaning leads to one last roast.

click to enlarge SWEET FAREWELL: The final dish baked in the author's portable oven. - Jaden Hair
Jaden Hair
SWEET FAREWELL: The final dish baked in the author's portable oven.

As you could probably tell from my last column, I'm going through a de-cluttering phase, purging my home because I know making room for shiny new crap means getting rid of dusty old crap. (Actually, my husband threatened to withhold holiday gifts until I clean my room and quit making unnecessary purchases.)

I don't label myself a compulsive shopper, because that would require medication — an extra monthly expense that I'd rather spend on alcohol. Let's just call me a "model consumerist and creative cabinet stuffer."

The process of clearing my house required prep work, so I consulted Martha Stewart and purchased $189.22 worth of organizing supplies. I even bought an appropriate outfit to get the job done, because you never know exactly where the crap ends or how long it will take to get rid of it. I wanted to be sure I was adequately dressed for sun, rain, sleet and Armageddon. Don't look at me like that. I have deep kitchen cabinets.

How did I end up with so many uni-taskers, like the dehydrator, chopper bopper, swirly twirly, sucker pucker, pasta presto and Pocket Rocket? Well, I'll tell you: You never know what surprises life will hurl through your window to smack you in the ass. What if a herd of elephants tornadoes through my home tomorrow and the only thing that will save my family is a salad shooter, rusty whisk and a snow globe?

Sometimes I wonder why I fall prey to this just-in-case mentality, torturing my family and friends with fantastical scenarios. I guess flipping between episodes of Inspector Gadget and MacGyver when I was a kid was an unhealthy thing.

Last month, when my husband questioned why I needed a portable oven when I already have a new built-in GE Profile and a $1,300 micro-convection-halogen-triple-deluxe oven, I just stood there dumbly with my mouth wide open and my pouty bottom lip dangling helplessly. Words failed me. I had no good answer for the appliance redundancy and stomped away. Damn it! Common sense had won again.

Before I give up my portable oven, I'm using it one last time for Roasted Chicken with Sweet Plum Sauce. Of course, I've included the recipe for making this in a regular oven. The sauce can be found jarred at most supermarkets in the Asian section. It's sweet, sticky and highly addictive.

Oh, and the Pocket Rocket? That's duct-taped under the dining table in case I'm stuck with boring guests and drab dinner conversation. Mighty fine entertainment on the evenings when I forget to drape a tablecloth over the glass. I guess that's where the nickname "O"-stess with the Mostest came from!


3-4 lb whole chicken

1/4 cup sweet plum sauce

1 head of garlic, halved

1 lemon, quartered

salt and pepper

3 tbsp butter, softened

kitchen twine

1. Rinse chicken and cut away extra fat. Pat dry with paper towels inside and out. Place in shallow baking dish, and rub softened butter all over chicken, tucking just a bit under the skin of the breast. Season generously with salt and pepper outside and inside cavity. Stuff with garlic and lemon. Tie legs of the chicken together; set breast side down. Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature. Preheat oven to 450F.

2. Roast chicken 20 minutes. Brush sweet plum sauce all over the chicken; turn breast side up, lower temperature to 375F and return to oven. Continue to roast another 60-65 minutes, brushing with additional sweet plum sauce and basting with pan juices every 15 minutes. Chicken is done when juices run clear as knife tip is inserted into chicken thigh. Thickest part of thigh without touching bone should register 160F-170F. Let chicken rest 10 minutes before carving. Serve with a side of sweet plum sauce for dipping. Note: During roasting, cover with foil if chicken skin starts to burn.

Jaden Hair blogs at