June 2, 2010 at 9:26 am , by Tara Bench
Last week we were in the LHJ Test Kitchen developing a recipe for some delicious little chicken patties (to be seen in an upcoming issue of the mag). I asked our lovely and talented intern, Emily, to prepare them for the broiler—but didn’t specify to brush oil on the actual patties—so she brushed the foil-lined baking sheet with plenty of olive oil and placed the patties on top. Into the broiler they went.
I began to make a few notes on the recipe and looked up to see black smoke shooting through the vents! The oil had caught on fire.
Emily and I looked at each other in panic. We opened the oven and flames rushed out towards us. All my kitchen-safely knowledge started swirling in my brain—but it was all a bit jumbled in the moment.
“Do we do something with baking soda?” I asked Emily. “Where’s our fire extinguisher?” Uhm…I can’t believe I just admitted I didn’t know where the extinguisher was! (We in fact have a very accessible fire extinguisher in the test kitchen, but thank goodness we didn’t need it). I reached through the smoke to turn off the broiler…
Emily brilliantly solved the problem. “Close the oven to cut off the oxygen!”
The flames subsided and we removed the nicely charred bits of chicken patty.
Once our nerves settled we had a good laugh about the episode, but definitely needed to brush-up on our fire safety, memorize where the fire extinguisher is kept, and clean the white stove that was now grey from the smoke.
We decided you might also benefit from a quick refresher on kitchen safety. Emily has put together a short list of tips that may seem like common sense, but it can be surprising what information escapes you when you have to think on your feet. Thanks Emily!!
Emily’s Kitchen Safety
•Putting out grease fires – DO NOT USE WATER! Use baking soda instead. If the fire happens on the stove – turn off the burner and put a lid or cookie sheet on top of the pan to stifle the flames. If the fire happens in the oven turn off the oven and close the oven door to rid the space of oxygen.
Always remember that if something you are wearing catches on fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL. In addition, make sure everyone in your family knows where you keep your fire extinguisher and how to use it in case of an emergency.
•Summer grilling – keep your grill at least 10 feet away from anything flammable.
•When frying – make sure your appliances are dry – even a drop of water can cause hot oil to bubble out of the pan!
•Open pot and pan lids away from you – steam can burn!
•Make sure your glass casserole dishes can withhold oven temperatures, and are made of tempered glass. Never use a glass baking dish on the stove as it can explode.
•Keep your potholders and mittens dry to prevent burning your hands when handling hot pans.
•Keep your knives sharp. A dull knife is dangerous. When you have to force and saw in a way you’re not meant to, you risk sticks and slips that often lead to painful cuts.
•Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees to insure everything is food-safe. Harmful bacteria thrives in what is known as the “danger zone” (40ºF to 140ºF is the general “danger zone” range). You sure don’t want to get food poisoning in your own home!
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