August 28, 2021

I always thought it odd when Melissa cooked a hotdog over the gas burner on our stove.  I usually pop the dog in the microwave and zap it for a minute.  The dog is hot, and I do not have to mess with it during cooking.  Melissa instead swears by the gas burner.  She likes her hotdogs with the sear marks the gas flame makes.  We have a meat fork with a long handle so she will skewer the dog and then toast it over the flame.  While I prefer to cook my dogs outside on the grill, it seems silly to fire up the grill for just one dog.  Even when I do grill outside, I tend to cook both dogs and burgers, saving the leftovers to later zap in the microwave.  Last week I decided to give the gas stove a whirl.

When I looked online, I found there are two types of gas commonly used in homes, and our house uses both.  We use natural gas inside (cooking and heating) and propane gas outside (grilling).  The difference between natural gas and propane can be confusing since propane is one of the fuels that make up natural gas, along with butane, methane, and ethane.  Propane becomes a fuel on its own when it is separated during processing.  Both fuels are highly flammable but natural gas can be more dangerous as it is connected to wide-spread gas lines monitored by utility companies.  When the lines rupture it can be catastrophic.  Propane is generally stored in individual tanks.  While these tanks can be quite large, there is a limited amount of gas in each tank.  The real difference comes in cost.  While prices vary, natural gas is about one fourth the coast per BTU as propane.

When I decided to cook my hotdog over the gas burner, I did not want to waste time looking for the meat fork.  Instead, I placed the dog directly on the stove grill.  The dog kept rolling around as it cooked, and it was hard to get an even distribution of the flame.  While this may not have been the best choice, it did work.  One of the interesting sidelights to cooking my dog this way was watching the flame as it licked the hotdog.  Droplets of grease would sweat out of the cooking dog and catch fire, causing a constant spray of sparks.  I thought this was a good thing, as it kept the grease from dripping onto the stove surface and having to be cleaned off.  Always look on the bright side of life.

Thoughts:  I got the first gas stove I remember when I moved back to Kansas.  I never thought about the difference between gas and electric stoves until I again moved to a house with electric.  The difference was noticeable when I cooked my ribs.  The propane gas on the grill always seemed too hot so I started cooking the ribs in my gas oven.  This allows me to produce fall of the bone ribs in 4 ½ to 5 hours.  When I moved to a house with an electric stove, I found it dried out the meat, while the gas kept it moist.  Even though natural gas is considered a greenhouse gas, it burns with 50% fewer emissions than coal.  While natural gas spills are toxic to the environment, propane gas leaks do not harm the local water or soil, and again would come in smaller volumes.  Both are considered eco-friendly fuels.  Finding and using eco-friendly energy sources may not always be the least expensive in the short run, but it sure beats destroying the planet for our progeny.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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