“Creativity takes courage.”
– Henri Matisse
See no mess. Hear no breakage. Speak no epithets. When it comes to our biggest kitchen blunders most of us don’t want to ‘fess up. But it’s time to stand up, rejoice and take pride in these accidents, mishaps or outright calamities because every June 13 celebrates Kitchen Klutzes of America Day.
Whether you’ve broken a glass, burnt a pan past redemption or your photo would be in the dictionary next to (kitchen) klutz, it’s time to laugh about and share the mistakes with your friends and loved ones. Everyone has had them at one time or another, even the professional chefs we see on TV.
I won’t deny I have had more than my fair share of kitchen klutz moments. I’ve broken glasses and dinnerware, used sugar instead of salt, misread directions and turned teaspoons into tablespoons. I even boiled all the water out of a pot once because I forgot about it. Thankfully I caught it before the pot could actually burn.
My favorite happened recently to a good friend of mine. She was finishing up cleaning her kitchen and decided she wanted egg salad. She placed two eggs (whole in their shells) in the microwave to hard boil. She had just finished the last of her cleanup when the microwave door exploded open, showering her and her kitchen with egg and shell.
Not being a big egg fan I never thought one way or the other about cooking a whole egg in a microwave. But after looking it up even wikiHow strongly suggests against it due to the likelihood of an explosion. But they still give directions for both shell-less or shelled microwave hard boiled eggs.
While kitchen catastrophes, usually long after they are cleaned up and over, can be a lot of fun to swap stories about, common, sensible precautions can seriously reduce personal injury and/or property damage, especially as cooking is considered the leading cause of home fires in the United States. Below are some good things to keep in mind when playing in your kitchen.
The Broiler: Keep flammables away from the broiler (especially parchment paper) or there is a good possibility you will have an oven fire.
Blenders: Spinning machines need their tops on when in use or you, and your kitchen, will probably end up covered in whatever mixture you were creating. A word of caution, hot liquids may cause the top to pop off even if sealed properly; so either keep firm hold on it or wait for the mixture to cool down a bit.
Microwaves: Not all cookware is microwave safe, or for that matter kitchen appliance safe. Be sure you know what items can be used in what appliances. Foil, Styrofoam, takeout containers (as you can’t be sure there is no metal) and marshmallows are not microwave safe.
Glassware: Glass breakage is a common enough kitchen klutz moment. But if you are barefooted use extreme caution when backing away or it will become a whole lot more messy and painful.
Combustible Foods: From flour and other powdered goods that can ignite when in direct contact with a flame to favorites like bacon and their spattering high fat content, to alcohol-based sauces whose bottles can explode if left near a flame, know your foods and how to use them properly when cooking.
Fire: Stay by your food when it’s cooking, clean up any escaping grease and remember…a clean kitchen is a safe kitchen. But if a fire does break out…
- Have a lid nearby. If a grease fire starts on the stove, turn off the burner and cover the flames by sliding a lid or metal cookie sheet over the pan (while wearing an oven mitt!). Don’t attempt to move the pan; keep the lid on until it is completely cool.
- Don’t add water to the grease fire, as it causes the grease to splash and spread even more rapidly.
- For oven and microwave oven fires, keep the door closed until the fire is out. Unplug the microwave if you can safely reach the plug.
- When in doubt, get out. If you encounter a fire and have any doubts about how to handle it, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1.
Just remember, cooking takes creativity, which is probably why kitchen klutz moments tend to be so spectacular. So stand up and share them. Be proud. And keep on cooking.