The Wellstood cooker has stood in the kitchen for, well, all my life. It’s over 60 years old and is yellowish with brown spots like a lot of humans.
It’s not a swanky range like the Aga. The Aga is too brash. I imagine Boycie from Only Fools and Horses would sell them.
It’s been ever-present in the kitchen.
So ubiquitous that when I came home from school one day and Cooker Man (a man from Clonakilty who was reputed to be the only man who still fixed them) had the Wellstood pulled out from the wall, it affected me so much, I think it’ll come up in therapy.
The ‘regulator’ was on the side of it to regulate the oil and in contrast to the cast-iron solidity of the cooker, it was the fragile brain with no skull to protect it.
Imagine if Krang from the Ninja Turtles had no exo-suit. ‘MIND THE REGULATOR!’ was such a frequent cry any time it was threatened by horseplay, I’d say breaking it would be a quickest route to disinheritance.
Wellstood is written on a red plate at the bottom of it.
We don’t own half enough things with proper name plates in my view. You know the stuff. Proper Industrial Revolution ‘say what you like about the Brits but they made great stuff once upon a time’ products out of coalfields and ironworks. Stuff that was made to last.
Proper slow cookers, not the tinfoil yokes that everyone is tagging their tagines in on Instagram.
And for the first time in my life, I made bread in the oven.
This is not the bread my mother made with the sieving and Howards extra coarse and the egg and the bread soda (all the ingredients that I’m not going to mention in detail because brown bread purists will say THAT’S NOT HOW IT’S MADE).
It was a bread mixture. That you just add milk to. It’s not right. Purists will be disgusted. It’s like getting a Bob Dylan greatest hits CD free with the Sunday paper.
Still though, once I had the mixture all squidgy it was just like any cake of bread as if made from grain I’d querned myself. And at least the bowl is legit.
It’s also older than me. I think I would get into less trouble for burning down the house than breaking the Mason Cash mixing bowl.
The name Mason Cash mightn’t mean much to you but if you saw the bowl — white on the inside, yellowish on the outside with an embossed pattern — you’d realise you’ve been looking at this type of baking bowl all your life. They used to be made in Swadlincote in Derbyshire in the 1800s.
It’s another name and design that might give you a bit of an Industrial Revolution-horn.
You should make brown bread in a fairly hot oven.
There’s a thermometer on the front that tells you how hot the oven is. It says: Slow, Medium Hot, Very Hot. Which is basically telling you to put your hand in and sense the temperature that way, college boy.
It expects the hand to have a bit more cop on about it than my hand, a veteran of approximately zero previous brown breads in this oven.
The oven in my own house with its soft-handed, ‘kids these days don’t know they’re born’ temperature gauge and a light which goes off when the oven reaches that temperature. Pfff. Amateurs.
I probably got the temperature wrong because the bread was too slow and I also forgot to take it out of the oven on time so it had a crust on it that was durable enough to allow the bread be examined in a 2419 episode of Time Team.
All the same, it was fresh brown bread out of a cast iron cooker. I ate it, the way we used to eat bread, as a meal.
A meal of bread. With inches of butter. That’s it. Sometimes the only range you need in a meal is the one that cooked it.