Warm Up to Your Toaster Oven

Microwave ovens are today's appliance choice of corner-cutting cooks. But long before these time-saving marvels hit the market, no kitchen was complete without a trusty toaster oven.

Toaster ovens are aptly named counter-top appliances that resemble both a tiny oven, and a big toaster. Handy substitutes to energy-gobbling full-size ovens, toaster ovens can crisp up your waffles, toast your bread, and re-heat just about anything.

Unlike normal ovens, a toaster oven is small and takes up very little kitchen space. These wee wonders are simple to use: just set the heat control to achieve the desired temperature, open the door, place the food to be baked or toasted on the inner shelf, and then close the door. Most toaster ovens have a little window so you can watch the toasting process and make sure you're food doesn't burn.

Most toaster ovens have two basic cooking options: toasting, and baking. If your food is set for toasting, the toaster thermostat will be automatically activated and heating elements on the top and bottom of the inner cooking compartment will be turned on. With elements placed above and below, your food will receive a balanced heat source. Like larger ovens, most toaster ovens will also feature a heat control dial, allowing you to set the desired temperature. When you set the dial of your toaster oven for baking, the baking thermometer gets activated, and the heating elements will be activated.

There is another function that comes into play during the baking process. The baking time, or duration, is controlled by a timing mechanism. The success of your baking will depend upon the wattage and capacity of your particular toaster oven. As a rule, the baking capabilities are reflected in the retail price of the appliance.

Like any manufactured product, toaster ovens have their fair share of mechanical problems. The most common complaint of toaster oven owners is that the electrical cord has burned out. The only remedy for this is to buy a new cord. Sometimes, the thermostat will become faulty, or can suffer minor errors. All is not lost, as toaster oven thermostats can be recalibrated. Check the manual or seek professional advice to perform this repair.

The toaster oven's electrical system is also made up of the thermal fuse, solenoid and main switch. With regular use, all of these components are prone to problems. Toaster ovens less than one year old should still be covered under a manufacturer's warranty, and may be repaired or replaced at no cost. Sometimes it seems to make more sense to replace the entire unit rather than paying a pricey service fee, but think carefully before you toss your toaster oven into a landfill site. The environmental consequences of throwing a unit away may outweigh the minimal time and money it will take to fix it.

Take good care of your toaster oven, and it will take good care of you. Choose a reputable brand, and you will enjoy perfectly toasted mini-pizzas and hors d'ouvres for years to come.

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About The Author, Bert Aurthurs
Writer Bert Aurthurs is an author for numerous popular web sites, on home shopping and online shopping issues.
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