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WomenSource speaker gives the scoop on the latest in cooktops and convection ovens
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With Thanksgiving just weeks away, kitchens and cooking are dominating the thoughts of many home chefs.

If you’re considering any last minute kitchen remodeling projects, you may want to take a look at upgrading your oven to a convection model.

According to Lisa Connor, a district sales manager for HADCO, an independent appliance distributor based in Suwanee, convection ovens are one of the latest trends in kitchen appliances.

Convection ovens incorporate a fan and a heat element in the back of the unit. That’s good news for your Thanksgiving turkey.

"You still have a broil element in the top and a baking element in the bottom of the oven, but when you cook in true convection mode, it only uses that fan and (heating) element in the back of the oven," Connor said.

"With convection ovens, you have that fan-forced air that gives you the capability of doing some things a little more efficiently because they distribute heat more evenly, and they are typically better insulated.

"When used on convection mode, these ovens tend to be about 30 percent more efficient on energy use than a conventional oven."

Connor was in Gainesville on Thursday as the speaker for the monthly Brown Bag Lunch hosted by WomenSource. She is also an executive board member of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

With a fan distributing the heat more evenly, convection ovens bake things more consistently, no matter which rack it is placed on, Connor said. Meaning, you no longer have to worry about cookies baking on a lower rack being done before their counterparts on a higher rack in the oven, which can be a problem in traditional ovens.

"Convection also gives you the opportunity to do what we call a meal-in-one concept," Connor said.

"In a standard baking oven, if you were baking off a lemon-garlic fish, those moisture particles are going to rise. That’s how you transfer flavors from one dish to another, through moisture particles. If you had something else in the oven, that garlic-lemon flavor could end up on that other product.

"But, as the convection element circulates air through the oven, it also burns off moisture particles, so you don’t get that transfer of flavors."

Even though convection cooking is great for many kitchen duties, it isn’t the "end all, be all."

"It’s important to understand what works well for convection and what doesn’t," Connor said.

"There are still some things that you’d want to do on (the non-convection) setting. Every convection oven has a regular bake mode."

No matter what type of oven you use, Connor has one-piece of universal advice.

"Do not self-clean your oven the week before Thanksgiving. If there is anything in the electronic controls that is subject to get blown out, it will happen then," Connor said with semi-seriousness.

"We tend to get a lot of service calls right before Thanksgiving. With self-cleaning, you’re taking the oven up to anywhere from 800 to 1,000 degrees and you’re keeping it there for two to four hours. That’s a lot of heat for a long period of time.

"Wait to clean it after the holidays and start your new year fresh, just don’t let people look in your oven on Thanksgiving."

If you’re looking to upgrade cooktops, Conner says to go with an electric induction range, which when used with induction cookware, is 90 percent more energy efficient as opposed to a gas range at only 78 percent, or a traditional electric range at 50 percent.

One last tip: Conner suggests cooking your turkey breast-side down to start out. This way the juices seep down into the meat.