Anyone who knows me will know that I lead a VERY busy life. Mom’s taxi is often called into service, and there are many a nights when I have no clue whether I’m coming or going. As such, I’ve mastered the art of cooking quickly, making tasty meals that are full of flavor and make people fight over the leftovers. However, when things go up in flames — literally — plans instantly get derailed, and it’s ALL hands on deck.
Let me tell you about my recent little adventure with kitchen fires.
I didn’t want to be cooking — I never want to get stuck with the cooking — but I do it anyway, because two teenagers are decidedly lazy and are more than happy to just forage the night away if I let them. Meanwhile, no vegetables, no protein. Just breads and fat. So, off to the kitchen I go. I had originally planned to make chicken stirfry, but at 7:30pm at night, I really can’t be bothered. I wanted dinner quickly. So, I cooked up the chicken, found some gourmet bread in the pantry, and decided the heat that up in the oven. Dinner was ready to serve — then it wasn’t.
I went to pull the bread out of the oven, only to be accosted by a wall of flames. Don’t get me wrong, I like flame-grilled bread, but not in an electric oven. I closed the oven, turned everything off, and called (yelled really) for the two teenagers to come collect the dinner pan and move it somewhere else. It was about this point when my husband came home.
“Cool. Dinner’s ready,” he said, rubbing his hands together.
“Um, not quite. Can I get your help here?”
“Sure. What help do you need?”
“Let me show you the problem.” I opened the oven again. Still the flames. They refused to die away.
“Right. I think I can see the problem.” He went to the tap and grabbed a glass of water.
“What’s that for?” I asked.
“The stove’s off at the wall,” he said. “It won’t matter.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Um… It’ll be a grease fire.”
“Oh. Right. Perhaps that’s not such a good idea.”
Meanwhile, I just ordered the kids to take dinner outside — what we could save of it anyway.
My husband tried to save the bread from the oven — he failed. Then he pulled out the fire extinguisher.
Now, there’s something that I should probably explain about my husband before I go too much further. When the opportunity arises, he likes to teach our children things. He called our daughter and tried to teach her how to use a fire extinguisher. Meanwhile, the flames are still going — completely contained within the oven and not even threatening to go any farther, but still…
The first burst from the fire extinguisher goes of.
“Can you at least close the cupboard next to you first?” I said. In that cupboard is all my serving trays and baking sheets. There was going to be a massive clean up afterward. I would have preferred to at least minimize the number of dishes that I needed to do.
With the cupboard closed (and the pantry closed behind me), my husband did what needed to be done to put out the fire properly. We had dinner outside that night while we waited for the powder from the fire extinguisher to settle (funny that). However, now I have a massive clean up job. Someone (um… one daughter…) decided that she wanted a glass and left the pantry cupboard door open, so ALL of the clean dishes got covered in white powder.
On the plus side, it forced us to clean out the pantry and throw out the stuff that had expired. I had no idea I had pumpkin seeds in there from 2016, or medications that expired in 2014. It became a contest of the oldest expiry date.
There is a reason why I always keep a charged fire extinguisher in the kitchen, even if it doesn’t look like I’m ever going to use it. I mean, let’s face it. The fire extinguisher we have (had… oh, whatever…) was purchased just over 16 years ago. It moved with us when we bought this house, and it has lived in cubby behind my cookbooks for years. The husband even tried to move it into the garage on many different occasions, to which I have always replied the same thing. “If there is a fire, where is it likely to occur? For a kitchen fire, what good is a fire extinguisher in the garage going to do me?”
It was a little safety tip I learnt from my parents. It doesn’t matter if you NEVER use the fire extinguisher. You should always have one — just in case.
I have only ever needed to use a fire extinguisher twice, one of those times was the other night. The time before that (the first time) was just over sixteen years ago (which is why I know how old my current fire extinguisher is).
I was highly pregnant with my son. End of term and just waiting for things to start. Well, I had baby brain. My memory was like a flea. The cat would meow and I would forget what I was reading. My attention span went through the toilet.
Well, I was cooking dinner and the phone rang. It was my mother on the phone, so of course, I had to sit down and talk to her. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw flames reaching up to the ceiling.
“Um, mom. I’m going to have to call you back.” I didn’t really wait for a response. I just hung up, waddled to the kitchen and grabbed the fire extinguisher. I caked everything in white powder. With the fire out, I want back to the phone and called my mother back, and told her what happened.
My husband came home and stared at the kitchen, confused and stunned. “Why is everything covered in white powder?”
“We had a fire. By the way, we’re having takeaways for dinner tonight.”
It was so comical the nonchalant attitude that I had that he burst out laughing. However, he went with me to my next midwife appointment and insisted that she induce me. I had become a danger to myself.
Our son was born a few days later.
There is a lesson to be learnt in all this. Never underestimate the importance of a fire extinguisher.
I will be heading out of the hardware store to replace our fire extinguisher in a few days, even though there is still some charge in the current one. I think I’ll use what’s left in the old one to teach our daughter how to properly use a fire extinguisher without the pressures of the fire in the oven from the other night. She needs to know what to do. All older children and teenagers should learn what to do.
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© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2017