Wednesday, March 14, 2007

You know what they say: If you can't stand the heat...

So I have a dumb question. But I don't know the answer, so I'll ask it anyways.

First, some background: I have both an oven and a toaster oven in my kitchen. For the most part, it is self-evident which item to use for any given task. Items in large containers that need to be cooked for a long time (cookies, pies, casseroles, pizzas, etc.) go into the oven. Small items that need to be briefly heated to a high temperature (slices of bread, leftovers, etc.) can go in the toaster oven.

My question is, when I need to heat a small thing for a very long time, what's the appropriate appliance to use? To give an example, I like doing roasted carrots, which requires preheating the oven (over 5 minutes on the "real" oven, less than a minute on the toaster) and then baking them for close to an hour. Since I'm cooking for one, though, it's small enough that it easily fits in the toaster oven. So which takes more power, cooking for a long time in a real oven or cooking in a long time in a toaster oven?

My gut tells me that it's the real oven... it takes a long time to get heated up, but once it's there, it seems to keep the temperature pretty well, just occasionally kicking the coils back on. By contrast, the electric toaster oven regularly cycles on and off, and I can't imagine that it holds heat as well. I could be wrong, though!

On an almost related question (equally dumb!), is there a reliable way to find out how much power a given appliance draws? I'm particularly curious about my computer, especially if there's a noticeable difference between when it's cranking away and when it's idling.


  1. To the first question, I only have a completely unhelpful anecdote:
    I felt wasteful the other day when all I had to cook in the oven was a yam. If only I had the flour to make beer bread, tree-hugging conscience would have been assuaged.

    For the second, this might be what you're after. Also, being in the Bay Area, you could try talking to the Mythbusters, I'm sure they have something that'd do in a pinch.

  2. Thanks! And I totally know how you felt - I've had the oven going for a single sweet potato, individual pot pie, and the like. I'm at peace with it, I just want to make sure that this inherently wasteful project produces as little waste as possible.

    Speaking of which, that Kill-a-Watt thing looks really useful! I may need to grab one of those. The only shame is, I don't think it'll help me determine how much power my oven uses. Maybe I can still call in the Mythbusters for that...

  3. You have far too much time on your hands, my friend. You should be worrying about far more important queries such as "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" or "What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?"