You can set a timer for the oven to turn off automatically after a certain amount of time, why not a burner on the stove?
Doesn't it seem like it would be a safety feature if you could turn on a burner for a set amount of time, and know that it was going to turn off automatically?
When you make herbal concoctions, you often want to add your ingredients to the water, then set it to heat slowly so that the leaves and twigs release their phytonutrients and their flavonoids*, then turn off the heat and leave it to soak for several hours or overnight. I like to mix up my morning brew – Dandelion Root Faux Coffee, or Tumeric Yerba Mate – the night before, which means I want to mix it up in my handy milk pot, turn on the stove, and go to bed. But no, I have to set a timer, strain to listen for it, push the blankets off my shivering legs, crawl out of bed, walk to the kitchen, and turn off the stove. It's an outrage.
Doesn't it seem like "learning how to cook" mostly involves standing vigil over stupid pans so you can pounce at the right time to turn off the burner? "Heat the syrup to the soft crack stage," "Sear the steak for 5 minutes," "Remove rice from heat when all the water is absorbed." We are forced to buy special gadgets like rice cookers and baby milk heaters just for the privilige of having something turn off automatically after a specified amount of time.
Obvious response #1: it would be dangerous to leave a burner on high and walk away from it. Answer: people do this all the time, and they start fires and/or burn the bottom off their pans and/or fill the air with poisonous teflon flakes as a result. Maybe it would be better if burners turned off after 20 minutes as as default?
Obvious response #2: Use a slow cooker, you lazy. That's not a bad idea in the particular case of herbal concoctions, but slow cookers are yet another gadget, aren't they? One might ask instead: why can't we use a regular stove as a slow cooker? Why can't we put a pot of stew on a burner in the morning, set it to cook at a low setting for 8 hours, and leave the house? Also, slow cooker pots don't generally have pour spouts, so it's a messy business to pour the liquid through a strainer (no, ladles never get the last dregs). Also, there's the issue of American slow cookers being forced to cook at higher than desirable temperatures in order to kill bacteria (when sometimes we don't want to kill bacteria).
Stove builders, hear my plea.
<code>*</code> You would think that "flavonoids" means "tasty substances that add flavor to something," but it doesn't. Yet another example of how the herbal tea world needs a complete vocabulary makeover.