Don’t touch the third rack


Friend of mine invited me to his house the other day. It was a casual get together. Cup of coffee kind of event.

It was planned on the fly two or three days earlier, and planned isn’t really the best of descriptions. Basically, we hadn’t caught up to really talk in a bit, he and his wife had ordered some new kitchen appliances, and he claimed to have something he thought was funny that he wanted to show me.

At the risk of spoiling the end, the excitement involved his new range.

Completely off-the-path note: Who the heck calls it a range in real life? No one, right? Not a single person on the planet refers to the appliance in the kitchen that cooks things as a range. I am convinced this is true.

Advertisements? Yes. Announcers on game shows? Seen that. Home improvement web sites? Again, there it is. Range does get used. But it’s hardly a true part of our vocabulary.

In fact, conduct a survey and offer: Name the appliance in your kitchen that cooks things. I’d bet more people will use the word dishwasher than will use the word range. (And yes, not a typo, they’ll say dishwasher while doing something silly like wrapping a piece of fish and some lemon in aluminum foil to try out a crazy idea they heard.)

But for all of us, and again, I mean each and every person that uses the English language, they are stoves and ovens and even cooktops. Yes, yes, there are different things to consider. Electric and gas models. Separate pieces when the heating elements are placed in countertops and ovens in the wall. Still…

I cannot think of one time, ever, in my life when someone was discussing a kitchen and called it the range. Of course, someone has. Kind of impossible to even consider that it hasn’t happened. But I don’t remember it.

Anyway… friends with new appliances… husband had something to show me and laugh about involving his new stove.

We walked across the kitchen and he opened the oven’s door. He pointed inside, chuckled, and asked me to look.

Sure enough, there it was, a third shelf.

Now… ok… yes, a third shelf… that part doesn’t seem so special. For the special and funny part, you needed the owner’s manual that was delivered as well. Because in there…

A part’s list. Not a part’s list in any traditional sense. More of a checklist, and one where the manufacturer could direct your attention if they needed to claim it was clearly stated someplace that the unit did not come with a power cord. Just so happens that same list also noted it came with three shelves for the oven.

A read-me-first section. You know the areas, which you should always take a few minutes to look over before playing with any of the switches on your new kitchen range. In this case, the bulleted points mentioned not to operate the oven with three shelves in use.

And… yeah. Brief pause at this point while you catch up to us, and consider a manual that says (I’d normally say my words at this point as a bit of a disclaimer, but the heck with it, let’s have a bit of fun and pretend I’m quoting my friend): “This range comes with three shelves for your oven. Never use more than two.”

We spent more time than I care to admit doing research on this third rack dilemma. Began on our phones, moved to an iPad, and then finally we headed off to his office and fired up the computer.

We found lots of references that talked about the oven and cooking zones. Which in turn you should understand means the search string picked up on the word third, and we would stumble on a fair amount of information explaining how to cook in the bottom third of the oven but nothing about a third shelf.

We came across several places that discussed cooking in an oven on multiple shelves. These always referred with how to position two shelves though, and never mentioned a third shelf.

We learned some lovely information about positioning things like pizza stones. (This was the one that triggered our biggest run of tangent searches. We decided to find out more about not placing on the very bottom, learn about cracked stones, how to care for them, and… ok… never mind, back to the third rack.)

Eventually we even decided to apply some narrowing and focus to the operation, and began looking for information about his specific manufacturer and range model. We were stunned when time and again, big name store after big name store, the range was available but the number of shelves in the oven wouldn’t be listed (and if they were, it was noted as two).

Lots of fun research. No third rack. And then the owner’s manual on the kitchen table, there it is… three racks shipped, don’t use three racks.

Funny thing, this third rack. We decided it was easy enough to take it out and store it. Maybe down the road it could be of use. Maybe. Trick is, we simply couldn’t come up with a good comparison to another situation.

Back to that dishwasher. (You didn’t think I mentioned a dishwasher earlier only as a joke about cooking fish, did you? Because, sure, I would do something exactly like that. But I didn’t this time.)

They had bought a couple of other appliances along with their new three-shelf stove. One of those was a dishwasher. Came with some attachments of sorts for the inside. Two of them were plastic pieces you could use on the top racks in order to better support wine glasses. Since they never placed wine glasses in the dishwasher, these were pieces they didn’t need.

I’d like to think we can agree, however, that adaptors and alternatives you may never use are not the same as extra pieces you are told to never use.

We’ve been giving it extra thought for about a week now. Nothing. He’s been considering using it with the fire pit in the yard as a grilling surface, which seems to be the best idea so far that doesn’t involve putting in a place he’ll never remember if the day arrives where he does need it. But we’ll stay at it, just in case.


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