Burning Down the Kitchen

Another thing I mention in the blog subtitle is “Burning down the kitchen.” So here is the story of that.

I have had a history of very minor kitchen fires. Steaks being broiled, things that had overflowed in the oven, and then cooked and subsequently caught fire on the floor of the oven. There was the incident with the homemade tortilla chips in the toaster oven. That pretty much took care of the toaster oven. Especially since it was full of baking soda, which I used to put out the fire. But I had never had a full blown stove top grease fire, until this year. It was Sunday, October 30, and I was getting ready to go on a business trip, but I thought I would make fried chicken strips for the DH before I went. I poured about an inch of canola oil in the dutch oven, turned it on to medium-high, and went downstairs to finish packing a few things. I honestly have no idea how long I was downstairs, but it was TOOO long. Just as DH was coming back in from looking in the storage shed to try and find the carryon bag, I came upstairs, and it was smoky. I went into the kitchen, and the oil was ON FIRE. I looked at DH, coming in the back door, and said “I think we need the fire extinguisher,” I think he said something in general agreement and I ripped that fire extinguisher out from under the kitchen sink.

Side note: The fire extinguisher is approximately 17 years old, because I believe my parents gave it to us as either a wedding present or a gift very shortly after we were married. I have always been meaning to get it checked out and see if it was still charged. Thank goodness, it was.

Another side note: I think I have to credit my brother with the fact that I knew I had to pull a pin for the fire extinguisher to work. Because he had been telling me elk hunting stories, about how his hunting companion was so nervous about bears that he spent a great deal of time with the pin pulled on his bear grenade. So I knew I had to pull a pin.

CHHHHHHHHHHHHT – OK, fire is out, but pan of hot oil is still on the burner, which is on. I have no desire to reach over the pan to turn it off, so I grab a towel and lift the pan off with that. This causes 1) the towel to ignite, and 2) the pan to re-ignite. So I go after both with the extinguisher again. Finally, all is quiet. Suspiciously quiet, as in “no smoke alarm” going off quiet. More on that in a bit.


Meanwhile, DH has decided that I am handling the situation OK, and he is trying to round up the cats and put them in the bedroom, so we can open every other window and door in the house. Because the upstairs is essentially filled with smoke AND fire extinguisher dust. We get the cats stuffed in the bedroom, and wander around in shock for a bit, bring the fan upstairs to help blow the smoke out. Fortunately, it is not freezing cold outside. And, our neighbors across the street (the ones we are closest to on the block) are not home to witness this spectacle.


Did I mention I had to leave for a business trip? And now DH was going to get to clean up this huge mess? Alone? Of course he wasn’t mad at me, he knew it was an accident, but I still felt guilty.

Him saying “Honey, that’s the biggest fire you’ve ever set!” didn’t help either.

We checked it out and determined that things weren’t really probably destroyed (well, except for the dutch oven pot and the thermometer that was in it), but that everything was dirty and we probably needed to call our insurance company. The plan was for him to clean up things as much as possible so the cats could be let out of the bedroom and not traipse through too much fire extinguisher dust.


Meanwhile, I had to finish packing. I read through my usual packing list about 3 times, and had him read it out loud to me because I was so rattled. I headed out to the airport with a story to tell to all of my companions on my trip (along with the admonition, “Get a fire extinguisher!”) and left him with the mess, and instructions to box up the chicken that hadn’t even come out of the refrigerator, (but was still dipped and battered and ready to go) and put it in the freezer.

And when I came home and went to get something out of the chest freezer, I see the package, labeled “Halloween Fire Chicken.”

So, I now give you the recipe for Chicken Fried Chicken Fingers, henceforth known as “Halloween Fire Chicken.” http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1739,152185-224194,00.html

Make sure you have a fire extinguisher! Make sure it works! Make sure your smoke detector is properly hooked up! (We checked ours, feeling that it should have gone off, and it appears that while it was connected to the electricity, it was not connected to something else????) and probably hadn’t been for 10 years since we bought the house. I don’t remember it ever going off. And I burn things fairly often……

3 thoughts on “Burning Down the Kitchen

  1. Pingback: Pork: I am Inspired and Some Advice about Thermometers | glenderella

  2. Pingback: Weekend Cooking and The Scary House | glenderella

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