I recently experienced the saddest baking day of my life. Let me explain why - last week I made broiled salmon which was wonderful except for the fact that some of the oils dripped off the pan and onto the bottom of the oven. You can guess what happened... the oils burned, made the entire house smell like incinerated salmon, and I could barely see through the haze. That's how bad it was. I wanted to set the oven to self-clean but the manual says only to do it if the area is well-ventilated, and since it was freezing outside I wasn't willing to open the windows and air the place out, so the burnt fish smell remained. Disgusting, I know, but I haven't even gotten to the part about the Saddest Baking Day of My Life yet. Fast forward five or six days. I decided to make Cowboy Cookies, a recipe that never fails me. They are the perfect combination of oats, pecans, coconut, and chocolate and they always turn out chewy (which tends to be a problem for me when baking cookies). Anyway, it was about 9:30 pm and everything was ready - the oven was preheating, butter and sugars were creamed, flour and other dry ingredients were sifted together, and I was about to combine the two mixtures when I noticed a rather pungent smell beginning to waft about the kitchen. I glanced at the oven and I recalled last week's salmon debacle. My eyes narrowed as I realized my baking experience was about to be ruined. Sure enough, the stench permeated the entire house and I was forced to finish baking the cookies in a rather unpleasant environment. Every time I opened the oven to take out a batch I was met with an overwhelmingly powerful wave of smoke and salmon scent. Repulsive. After another thirty or so minutes and two batches later the cookies were finally done. I usually leave the oven door open to let the warmth into the house but I had to close it immediately. To make matters worse, I swear the cookies even tasted like burnt salmon. Matt claims I'm crazy, but I think at least the first bite is tainted. It may be psychological, but I can tell you for sure that I won't be baking anymore until the oven has been cleaned.