Tuesdays With Dorie: The Preamble

January 28, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Posted in Blog Event, Random, Tuesdays with Dorie | 11 Comments

I’ve heard great things about Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours and when I heard a wonderful little group was baking from her cookbook every week I couldn’t pass it up. It was also an excuse to buy a cookbook that I had heard great things about, but somehow didn’t have. I love me a good cookbook!

I’m prone to kitchen accidents. I’m just not that careful or vigilant in the kitchen which leads to things going wrong on occasion. When I read the introduction to Dorie’s cookbook I knew this cookbook was for me. Apparently, I’m not the only person to ever burn a house down because oil got too hot. I didn’t actually burn it down, but we’ll get to that in a minute. My story is similar to the tale that kept Dorie from cooking for years, but in my case it only stopped me from cooking that night. This is a good one so sit back and enjoy the tales of my stupidity….

For a few years now I’ve had a deep fryer. Whenever I need to heat oil I use the deep fryer. It knows how to handle oil and I can forget about it for a little while without having to worry about it. But then something bad happened, my little puppy was doing such a good job being left home for short periods of time out of her crate that I figured I would give it a try and leave her home for the day while I was at work. She did a pretty good job, buttttt she did chew the cord to the deep fryer leaving it useless until I could get around to buying a new one. We don’t use it often so it didn’t seem like a huge deal and because the cord plugged into the deep fryer it was going to be a quick and cheap fix. Yay!

Shortly after the cord was chewed and before we had gotten around to buying a new one I got a craving to try to imitate these sweet potato fries at a restaurant G and I like. They’re covered with cinnamon and served with sour cream. They’re also flavored with something that I was going to try to experiment to figure out. Sounds like a fun night right? Not so much. I put the oil on the stove and started to cut my sweet potatoes. For some dumb reason I decided that the oil wasn’t getting hot fast enough so I put a lid on the pot. Did I mention that this is a brand spanking new piece of all clad? Do de do I finished cutting up my sweet potatoes, took the lid off and got ready to dump them in. The oil looked fine and I never heat oil on the stove so the the concept of using a thermometer is foreign to me, that’s what my deep fryer is for. I just know that it looks ok.

Then it happens. I put the first fry into the pot and before I can register what is happening the oil sizzles, screams and attacks my hand. I know enough to shut the burner off then I race off to the sink, I have a mighty bad burn. As soon as I get my thumb under the nice cool water I look over and smoke is billowing out of the pot. I’m not talking about your standard I’m cooking burgers and their smokey smoke, I’m talking huge clouds of smoke. The smoke detector starts to wail and I yell for G to take it off the burner. He brings the smokey pot over to me and in the craziness of the moment I almost told him to dump it in the sink which probably would have gone horribly wrong. Then I remembered that you cover grease fires and grease is similar to oil. Ok where’s the lid? I look around frantically only to realize I still have the lid in my non-burned hand. Sweet! It’s right here. So I put the lid on, but it doesn’t work. The oil now starts to boil over the sides of the pot, I can barely breath because the smoke is so thick. We have now set off not only our smoke detector, but also the ones in the other two apts in our building and the ones in the stairwells. The whole building is full of smoke and the smoke detectors are screaming at us.

I then have another frantic moment of trying to figure out what to do next. I have no idea so I tell G to bring it outside. The only problem is that our boiling pot is three stories away from outside. G takes off while I open all the windows I can get to, turn on all the fans and get my hand back into the water. Meanwhile, G, makes it downstairs after leaving a trail of bubbled over grease behind him and dumps the oil onto the pavement. It smoked a little bit more, but apparently it worked so he came back upstairs to tell me to get the fark out of the apt because I was going to have bigger problems than a burned hand, I was going to have smoke inhalation issues.

At this point I freak out, where are the animals. I know the apt isn’t going to burn down anymore, but the smoke can’t be good for our dog and cat, they’re still little and I can barely stand it. With my eyes and lungs burning from the smoke I see the cat, grab him and race downstairs telling G to grab the dog. A minute later he comes out of the apt hacking up a lung and dogless. Where is the dog?!? He can’t find the dog. Great!

Our dog is a silly one, she’s afraid of the vacuum and apparently is also afraid of the sound of 8 smoke detectors going off. I can’t really say I blame her, I’m don’t like vacuums either, that’s G’s job and I was freaked out buy all the smoke and smoke detectors too. Being the good doggie Mommy that I am I push my husband who can barely breath back up the stairs and tell him to find the dog. He already has a rag to put over his face so he reluctantly heads back up to the den of smoke. A few minutes later he comes down with the dog. Apparently, she got scared as we suspected and had hidden herself in the back corner of the bed right against the wall, but all was good. G got her out of danger and we were all breathing the fresh air we would be stuck outside breathing for the next 45 minutes until our apt was tolerable.

In the end our apt had an oil scent for a few days and I’m still working to get the last bits of burnt grease off my pretty pot, but we all made it out alive and with no permanent damage. Oh wait, I did end up at the hospital later that night because of my burn. The wonderful nurses brilliant response to hearing that I burned my hand on oil… “Next time you should bake them.” No s*&t sherlock! Who in their right mind would think I would go down the same road again?

I still haven’t heated large amounts of oil on the stove and G (the one who actually uses the deep fryer more than once a year) got a new deep fryer for his Bday, so I have no plans of ever attempting it again. I will say that every time I make candy I now have a trusty thermometer and am still very uneasy about heating things to high temperatures on the stove. That will never stop me though, stories like these teach you important lessons and they keep things interesting.

What’s your funniest/worst cooking disaster?



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  1. Oh my gosh, thank goodness you all got out okay! I am so glad that you joined TWD! It’s such fun 🙂

    My disaster… this was before I could really bake… I was 15 and my best friend and I were at my parents house alone and decided we wanted breadsticks. They were supposed to be baked in the oven, but for whatever reason we decided microwaving them would be better/easier/faster. We weren’t paying attention and ended up with a kitchen full of smoke and we dramatically “stopped, dropped, and rolled” out the kitchen door and onto the deck. I think my parents had to air out their kitchen for about 3 days and the scorched burn marks from those breadsticks are still in their microwave to this day 😉

  2. Haha “stop, drop and roll” I love it!

  3. What a story! The alarms on their own can make you psychotic, let alone when you have smoke everywhere, a burnt hand and a sizzling pan of oil!
    I have a similar story with rolls in the microwave at 15 but stopped in time before they ignited. Can’t think about a big disaster though except the small disasters that happened during making dessert last Christmas, everything turned out so different.

  4. Thanks for sharing your story! I am laughing now, but I am sure I wouldn’t have been at the time. I am glad that you guys are ok, and welcome to the TWD group!

  5. So glad you joined! We will hold off on anything with oil for a while. 😛

    I have had plenty of cooking disasters. But the latest wasnt so much cooking as being a total doofus. I came home with bags from the grocery. I always lay them on the glass top stove to arrange and put things away. I accidentally nudged one of the knobs and turned a burner on. I went down to fetch more grocery bags, I hear a ruckus upstairs. I run up and Jaos is putting out a fire on the stove!! A whole bag of groceries was in flames. Bag, carton of eggs, and 2 rolls of paper towels. Thank God Jaos was quick in responding. If those paper towels had really started going up, it would have been trouble. I now put the grocery bags on the floor.

  6. OMG that is crazy!

  7. OMG….so scary, Nikki!!! I’m glad it turned out okay!!!

  8. One of my favourite recipes is a simple little one, where you mix ketchup and cola and pour it over pork chops to bake. It’s much better than it sounds… The baking dish I use to bake it in is glass, and I grabbed it out of the oven before running to the grocery store. I set the pan on the stove, grabbed my purse, and ran out the door with D to go to the store, and when we came back we discovered I had left a stove burner on. The burner that the glass pan had been sitting on. This was found out, because the glass baking dish had literally exploded, and glas shards and pork chop pieces were all over the floor, walls, and ceiling, stuck there by sticky, carmelized sauce.

  9. Too funny!! I pictured the whole thing in my head and that made the story even funnier. I’ll have to think about my moment…

  10. Wow Nikki. Heating oil always freaks me out too. I learned to test the temp by throwing a little bit of bread in & watching how fast it browns. That has kept me safe so far. We use hot oil for fondue at Christmas time though and I overfilled one of the pots. When someone put the first bit of meat in, the oil bubbled all over and down the sides where the flame was. We took care of it quickly, but I don’t remember how at all. I have lots of little mistakes, usually forgetting something in the oven, because I use my nose as my timer too.

  11. so, how does one join TWD?

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