Thursday, January 29, 2009

The amazing flaming oven

A few posts back I mentioned something about pouring water in an electric oven and promised to fill you in. I've been meaning to post about it for a while, but I've been to lazy to sit down and write this story out. Finally I decided to make it a two parter because there are two stories that need to be told and I don't want to condense either of them. So here's the first part.

Every now and then Andy and I go through a funk in the kitchen. Meaning that neither of us wants to have to cook and clean up so we end up eating out a lot or grabbing something out of the frozen food isle at the grocery store. Usually a frozen pizza or two. Early on in our marriage this happened a lot. We singlehandedly kept the frozen pizza industry in business that year.

We each have our own way that we like them cooked. I put it on a pan and Andy prefers to just throw the pizza on the oven rack. I don't like this method for a number of reasons, but mostly because of the following story. I have since learned how to cook his pizza to his liking without having to use the "on the rack" method, but that doesn't really have anything to do with my story.

On one such occasion we had purchased a square frozen pizza. It was cooking on the rack and all of a sudden we smelled something burning. We had positioned the pizza just so that when it melted and started to cook one side bent over and a few of the toppings had fallen into the bottom of the oven. There wasn't a whole lot we could do at the time so we just left it, finished cooking the pizza, and had every intention of getting the burned toppings out of the oven when it had cooled.

Fast forward several weeks:

I'm home alone. Andy is out with the guys for the night. I have purchased another frozen pizza and had a big evening planned of sitting on my ass in front of the television shoving as much junk food in my mouth as my body would hold. And my body will hold a lot of junk food.

The oven was preheating (key to making sure the pizza crust is crispy) and I was folding some laundry. I could see the kitchen from the laundry area, but wasn't really watching it because usually a preheating oven doesn't need to be watched. I just happened to glance over my shoulder and caught sight of the smallest amount of smoke coming out of the stove eye that vents the oven. I though maybe it was just some food that we had spilled on that eye cooking off, so I went about my business. Five minutes pass. The oven clicks letting me know it is successfully preheated. I look over and there is now smoke barreling out of the vent eye and the top of the oven door. What the heck!!!!!!!!!

I run over open the door and see the rogue pizza toppings have burned to a crisp to the point that they caught on fire. Having never encountered a fire in an oven that wasn't gas, I started to panic. Now, I'm sure you're thinking that there was no need to panic. The oven is supposed to get hot anyway and as there were no other flammable objects in the oven the fire would have eventually burned out. I was perfectly safe as was my apartment. But you couldn't have convinced me of that at this particular moment.

So of course I grab my cell phone and call Andy. He didn't seem the least bit concerned that I was at home facing a rolling inferno small fire. He told me to pour some water on it. His whole reaction infuriated me. I wasn't about to pour water into our electric oven and cause it to explode. What I really wanted was for him to come home and fix it, because I'm totally rational like that. It didn't matter that it would have burned out in the hour it took him to get back home, he was the man, and fire was his thing.

I hung up the phone, realizing I was on my own, and spun around in a few circles in the kitchen. I think I was looking for something to put it out with and only came across a kitchen towel. I really like my kitchen towels and though I knew it might smother the fire, I wasn't willing to burn a hole in a perfectly good towel. At this point I had also realized that it hadn't gotten any bigger and was just getting annoyed. I was really hungry and this thing was seriously hindering my night of sloth. Fire was not part of the plan.

Suddenly it hit me. What did they teach in elementary school fire safety? How were you supposed to put out an electrical fire? Baking soda! We had just bought two boxes of it. So I grabbed one, tore it open, and proceeded to dump about half the box onto the tiny little fire in the oven.

The day was saved. The fire was out. The only problem now was that the bottom of my oven was covered in white powder. So I took out the oven rack and after trying to excavate with a few different kitchen tools, I settled on sweeping it out with a pastry brush. Then I had an ingenious idea. There was a crack between the door and the oven, so what if I just spread paper towels on the floor and sweep all the burned food and baking soda out through the crack? Martha Stewart's got nothin' on me!

I proceeded with the spreading of the paper towels, swept most of the mess to the edge of the oven and then, slowly so as to avoid more mess, I edged it over the crack. Do you know what I heard? It wasn't the sound I should have heard if the charred pizza bits had hit the paper towels covering the linoleum floor. Instead it was the sound burned pepperoni makes when it hits metal.

The drawer under the oven, where I stored all my baking pans, had been in the way of the floor and the baking soda disaster. Now, not only was there a giant mess in my oven, I was going to have to wash every one of my baking pans and the metal drawer that held them. And if you've been reading this blog for any length of time you know how much I bake. I have a lot of pans.

At this point I was on the brink of passing out from either anger or starvation. So I shut the drawer, picked up the (still clean) paper towels, and turned the oven back on to re-preheat. I decided that my valiant efforts in putting out the fire were enough and Andy could clean up the mess. And I was so angry at the whole situation I needed to just walk away before I threw something through a wall.

I have since been able to have a good laugh at this story and I laugh every time I tell it. Andy, of course had a laugh at my expense when he got home and saw everything, and you can guarantee that anything we drop in the oven gets taken out immediately now.

As I said earlier, this isn't the end of the flaming oven saga. Stay tuned, part two will be up in a couple of days.

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