The Accessible Kitchen: The Black+Decker Talking Toaster OvenBill Holton
If you’re a regular reader of AccessWorld, you probably enjoyed Janet Ingber’s excellent review of the Affordable AmazonBasics Microwave in the December 2019 issue. You may also be familiar with the Talking Microwave available from MaxiAids.com. Microwaves are great, but there are times when what you really want is good old fashion heat. —I'm not a fan of pizza reheated in the microwave. I’d much rather wait while my morning-after slice reheats in the oven. (Tip: Don’t refrigerate that leftover pie—freeze it. Reheat it in the oven and it will come out crisp instead of chewy.)
Perhaps you are cooking for one, and use your microwave more than you’d like because you don't want to taket the time or waste the energy it takes to heat up your conventional oven just to bake a single chicken pot pie, or broil a 6-oz rib eye. With failing vision, perhaps your current oven has become so inaccessible it’s just not worth the effort.
The new Talking Black+Decker Toaster Oven just might be the answer.
Included in The Box
The test unit I received from MaxiAids arrived triple-boxed. Along with the countertop toaster oven itself there was an audio DVD with a recorded manual. Digital text instructions are also available.
Accessories include two mesh oven racks, one baking/broiler tray, and a flat cookie sheet/crumb tray. The final accessory is a pronged rack puller. Picture a wide, two prong fork with a handle at one end and two hooked tines. The tines are designed to grab the tray or rack so it can be removed without reaching in with your hand. For me, using this tool resulted in a lot of needless fumbling. Using a cooking mitt was much more convenient and safer.
Using the Talking Toaster Oven
The Talking Toaster Oven is a custom-modified Black+Decker TO4314SSD Convection Toaster Oven. It draws 10 amps with 1,200 watts of cooking power. Weighing in at 18 pounds, it has a fairly large footprint, measuring 18 inches wide by 12 inches high (including feet), and approximately 18 inches from handle to the rear convection fan unit. The interior cooking chamber is a spacious 12 inches by 12 inches by 8 inches--easily large enough to roast a small chicken or bake a fresh or frozen 12-inch pizza.
To make the Talking Oven voice-responsive, the original touch pad has been removed and replaced with a customized control unit featuring an intelligible male voice and eight volume settings.
The new panel includes five rows of two accessible embossed buttons, ten buttons in total. Each row has a function. The left button cycles up through the various options, the right button cycles down. The new setting is voiced. Quick successive presses do not advance the settings, but holding the buttons down causes them to advance slowly enough thatyou can easily stop at your desired setting.
Row 1, Cooking Mode: Use this row to select which mode you wish to use: toast, bake, broil, warm, or timer. The default startup option is toast; press either the left or right top buttons to toggle through the choices.
Row 2, Temperature: Cycle through a number of temperature settings, depending on the selected mode. For example, you can bake at temperatures ranging from 200 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. There are no Celsius settings. Warming temperatures run from 125-175 degrees. Each setting begins at the lowest temperature. Pressing the right button jumps immediately to the highest and descends from there. Timer mode is not a cooking setting so does not offer temperature settings
Row 3, Cook Times: You cannot run the oven indefinitely, so you won’t have to worry about accidently forgetting you’ve left the oven on.. The maximum cook time is four hours.
Row 5, Start/Stop: The left button starts the cook or timer cycle. The right button stops it. If you open the oven door to check on the food while its cooking, the timer continues to count down. If you want to pause the timer, press the Stop button one time. Press the Start button to restart the timer. If you wish to power down the unit midway through the cook cycle press the right button twice. The oven will audibly confirm it has shut down.
Row 5, Volume Control: There are eight volume settings.The lowest is whisper quiet, but does not turn off voice feedback.
Pressing the Start button during operation will prompt the oven to report time remaining. The unit will announce when it has reached the proper temperature, ding when the timer reaches zero, and then repeat the ding a few minutes later as a reminder if the door has not been opened.
The Talking Black+Decker Toaster Oven features convection oven capabilities. In this mode, the oven fan circulates hot air through the cooking chamber, cooking food faster and crispier. Various cooking resources advise setting the temperature 25 degrees lower than usual and reducting the coking time by up to 25 percent when using the convection mode.
Toggle convection heating on and off by pressing and holding down the Start button for seven seconds. The unit will report the new setting.
Let’s Get Cooking!
I found the oven easy to set and operate even without reading the documentation. You do have to set everything in order. For example, if you set the cook time before you select the cook mode the timer will reset to its default Toast setting. Happily, the order runs in the direction of the buttons. Mode, then temperature, then time, and then start.
The oven does not make accommodations for preheating. When I baked a stuffed chicken breast and set the mode, temperature, and time, it took the oven three or four minutes to reach the set temperature. The oven announced having reached the temperature, but my timer was then off by three or four minutes. Once the oven is running, you can't change temperature or time without stopping the unit’s operation and resetting. It took the oven approximately 4 minutes to reach 450 degrees, so I started adding the extra time to future sessions.
The oven does not come with a cooking guide that tells you, for example, how long it takes to bake a potato, butI did find an excellent online resource:, Everything You Need to Know about Convection Toaster Ovens.
Surprisingly, there is no specific toast setting for light, medium, or dark. The temperature and time need to be set instead, which may require a bit of experimentation. I set the oven to 450 degrees and five minutes, but after only four minutes the toast was evenly browned on both sides. And yes, the oven had enough room to bake that 12-inch frozen pizza, both the round pie and the square one.
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