As I’ve lived alone, I seem to find various perils pop up now and then. The first peril was when I had to make solo trip to the ER at 3 a.m. because I hated to wake up my friends. The peril I uncovered today has to do with nearly lighting myself (and my ghetto-fabulous apartment) on fire.
This morning, I woke up and was rather hungry for pancakes. DD and I lolled about, him watching basketball, me reading a book, and breakfast time came and went. Along about noon I pulled out some chips and the two of us gorged on those like we were on a deserted island with nothing but some Tostitos to keep us alive. While I felt the chips would simply satiate my hunger until we could make it out for said pancakes, it did quite the opposite. It made neither of us very hungry. Two hours later, we parted ways, but my craving for pancakes was still apparent. I thought, why don’t I just go home and make a couple small ones? That will satisfy the craving and not overtax my very un-hungry stomach.
So off I toddled away from DD’s and back home to the ghetto-fabulous old-motel-turned-apartment in which I live. I immediately fired up the burner, set the non-stick pan on it to heat up, and quickly mixed some batter. The last step was to spray some Pam on there to combat the non-stickiness. I happily poured some batter in the heated pan and waited.
Smoke started to swirl from under the pan, but I continued on. There was a faint burning smell, but I continued on. I flipped the pancakes, and BAM sparks flew, pops were heard, and I jumped to the opposite side of my kitchen.
It should be noted here that I have a large respect for fire. I won’t say it’s a full-fledged fear, because I do enjoy a cozy fire in the fireplace. But it’s a respect. I don’t bother it and it won’t bother me, ergo I am less likely to burn to death. So far, that mutual respect has worked. Never have I experienced sparks, much less loud POPS, while cooking. Never have I realized it may be a good idea to keep a fire extinguisher close to my stove.
Until now. After bringing my heart back into my body and venturing cautiously across the kitchen toward the stove (still afraid it may blow up in my face), I realized I’d blown the fuse. And burned a hole straight through my favorite (and only) large skillet. Oh, and a matching hole straight through the burner itself. And to add insult to injury, I’d quite smoked up the place and basically burned the pancakes.
I immediately wondered what I did wrong to elicit such a response from my stove. Upon inspection of the Pam can, I found the culprit. I had applied the oil to a heated surface (the skillet), a major no-no. It was obviously my fault I’d almost lit my place on fire.
I felt the need to absolve myself (or further blame myself) of this, so I called my dad. I regaled him with the story and at the end he said: That was absolutely not your fault. He explained the finer points of electric stoves and said my burning element was simply shot. He gently reminded me that it still was not a good idea to apply Pam to a heated pan because it could have flamed up and caused a much more serious issue, but that these particular sparks were not my fault. He even offered to fix it for me so I could avoid dealing with Landlord Steve, who would probably get around to fixing years from now, long after I’ve moved on to a (hopefully) less ghetto residence.
All of this has led me to the following conclusion: fire extinguishers are probably a good idea for the kitchen. As I stood there, shaking, still jittery after my brush with the fire that used to respect me so, I realized I had no idea what I would have done had it been more than sparks that flared up. Had flames actually occurred, I would have jumped far away, screaming, and NOT grabbing a bowl of water.
I was also reminded of the importance of insurance. Maybe I should up my coverage…