An Evolution of a Baking Kind


Long, long ago in a land far away, a homemaker of Central Europe fired up a roasting and boiling pit inside her yurt (her home) in order to prepare the reward of the day’s hunt—a mammoth.

The year was 29,000 BC, when evidence of history’s earliest ovens was found ( They were ovens dug into the earth. When rocks or smoldering debris began to heat and food was placed into these hot boxes, long cooking times were the key to placing nourishing food “on the table.” So, Dear Readers, how do you like your mammoth prepared—rare, medium, or well done?

Archeologists have come to understand the importance of earth ovens in their relationship between human civilization and a stable society. Miss NiNi imagines that these scientists have jumped for joy at a dig site upon the discovery of an oven! A new realm of unearthing the evolution of mankind was right before their eyes.

Those folks aren’t the only ones who have jumped for joy at the discovery of an oven. Oh no! Miss NiNi has been known to light up like a Christmas tree when my path crosses an oven of a more modern era. As Sherlock Holmes might have done when solving a mystery of great dimension, I investigate the knobs, gadgets, doors, and buttons of baking possibility.

An oven and Miss NiNi have and always will comprise a baking team. However, Dear Readers, the evolution of such appliance in my life has progressed in various stages of development.

For instance, my first oven recollection was located inside the glisteningly white Monarch range parked next to the south wall of our farm kitchen. The range seemed monstrous to this little 6-year-old. However, the adult-size cooking machine and Mom’s creative hands were a team. Succulently seasoned farm-raised meat, potatoes, and vegetables and baked goods produced from scratch sustained us.

Evidently, I had already formed a bond with that appliance. After coming home from school on a frigid December day, this first grader shed tears of remorse upon the discovery that it had been traded to the big-city appliance store for a newer version. My destiny as a baker had unknowingly been etched!

An oven that teamed with Mrs. Lux, our country school cook, was a match made in Heaven. It didn’t matter if Mrs. Lux was cooking for one child or 50, she and her ovens made a deluxe duo, as they worked in unison to help keep bodies of students and teachers fueled for each scholarly afternoon.

I was only age seven, but how well I remember when Mrs. Lux’s kitchen graduated from one aged range to two brand new electric floor models. A school cook and her baking sidekick donned mortar boards and gowns to graduate to a creative team of three. Menoken Elementary School was a pedestal of hot lunch nourishment on the prairie!

Oh yes, Dear Readers, that new white Monarch gas range that was welcomed into Mom’s kitchen in the mid-1950s was of the latest design and boasted a side-by-side oven and broiler. Its size occupied a number of square feet and worked like a champ seven days a week for over 30 years. It outlasted my childhood and even the life of its teammate, my mom.

If patience could have been imparted to an inanimate object, the Monarch had it! It worked along with this budding baker as I learned baking skills from the best—my mom!

And then, there came the era of colorful major home appliances. White was mundane. Color was exciting! Avocado green, harvest gold, copper, and almond tones all were part of the color maturation process in a homemaker’s kitchen. Did you have a kitchen appliance that sparked color, Dear Readers? Oh, Miss NiNi certainly did!

And now, we’re in the generation of sleek stainless and black appliances. Miss NiNi’s food lab sports white appliances. Has white ever gone out of style?

But boy, oh, boy, just wait, Dear Readers! Our soon-to-open Miss NiNi’s Desserterie in West Des Moines/Waukee will be decked out in the finest home wall convection ovens as well as a commercial mini rotating rack oven. The future of volume baking for those awaiting Miss NiNi’s hand-crafted deliciousness is just around the corner.

Open the instruction manual, Miss NiNi, as a newly traversed chapter in baking training is landing on your retail doorstep.

Evolution of the oven. Evolution of a six-year-old’s baking destiny. Both are components in the evolution of homemaking happiness.

This is my story. Could this be yours, too, Dear Readers?

Miss NiNi