Last night, when I managed to set my own hair on fire, I was reminded that the laws of nature must be obeyed. I had added a small amount of wine to a pot and covered it. A minute or so later, I raised the lid, bent over the pot, and whoomph! The vapors ignited. Happily, I was wearing my glasses or I would be minus eyelashes.
An unpleasant truth: cooking hurts sometimes.
And a lesson: don’t be cavalier. Even if you’re an experienced cook, being mindful of the basics when it comes to fire and knives will save your skin (and hair).
Here are four tips:
- Have a plan.
The other day, my grandaughter, Zane, grabbed a hot cookie sheet out of the oven only to realize there was no place to set it down. Even an oven mitt won’t keep the heat out forever. When you move any hot item, know where you’re going and clear a space in advance.
With a gas stove, a pan that’s boiling over is easy to fix: cut off the gas. With an electric stove, be careful and move that pan slowly to avoid getting splashed.
- Don’t skid.
To avoid cuts, anchor your chopping board. If the board is moving around, your chances of cutting yourself are high. I put a damp paper towel or a dishtowel under mine and it won’t budge. Thin plastic cutting sheets are a menace in my estimation. Get a heavy duty chopping board, anchor it, and chop away.
- Focus (or keep your eye on the knife)
If you’ve got a knife in your hand, keep your eyes on it. Don’t look around the room whilst chopping. Don’t point with your knife. If you’re talking, put your knife down. It seems so obvious but it’s amazing how often we cut ourselves just by not looking where that blade is headed.
- Respect fire
Fires are scary but generally can be quickly brought under control. First turn off the heat. Know where your large pot lids or cookie sheets are so that you can immediately cover a flaming pot (thereby cutting off the oxygen). In the oven, turn the heat off and keep the door closed. Add water or liquids to hot fat slowly and carefully in avoid a flare up. Oh, and alcohol is highly flammable…
Now about Ways to Help…
A cut finger was a small price to pay for the chance to teach some cooking classes as part of Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline in Washington, DC a number of years ago.
(It happened because I was (A) looking around with a knife in my hand and (B) using a plastic sheet instead for a chopping board.)
Share our Strength tackles child hunger in the United States through a myriad of programs and volunteering opportunities. But our smallest citizens are not the only ones affected. Here in Oregon,
“… requests for emergency food are skyrocketing to record levels throughout Oregon and Clark County, Washington. With need up as much as 43 percent in some areas, Rachel Bristol, executive director and CEO of Oregon Food Bank, said, “Layoffs, foreclosures and other economic disruptions are taking a terrible toll on our neighbors.”
Tami Parr of the Pacific Cheese Project and Kathleen Bauer with the blog GoodStuffNW have spread the word about this mounting problem and ask that we help out the Oregon Food Bank or a program in your state and community. Clicking the above logo will whisk you to the food bank site. Contributions are gratefully accepted.
Note: Write “Blog for Food” in the “Tribute In Honor Of” blank on the donation form. That way Tami and Kathleen can keep track of donations as they come in and let readers know how it’s going.
To close on a sweet and simple note:
I lost the original recipe for ‘Claudette’s Lemon Cake’ (Gourmet 1979) but this is pretty close. It’s a snap to make even for the non- baker. I’d say it keeps well but I’ve never put it to the test.
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- 2 1/2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350.
In a bowl, beat together the sugar, butter, and eggs until just combined. Add the flour sifted with the salt and baking powder. Add the sour cream and milk. Don’t overbeat.
Place the batter in a buttered loaf pan and bake until golden brown about 55 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack.
Combine the juice and pulp of the lemon and the sugar. Spoon this glaze over the hot cake and let cool in the pan.
Run a metal spatula around the inside of the pan and turn out the cake onto a plate.
To store: wrap up tightly in plastic and foil. Freezes well.
p.s To read about good stuff in the NorthWest, Kathleen’s blog is:
Cheeselovers! Go to Tami’s blog: