I had a chance to chat with folks from Underwriters Laboratory along with Lisa Schroeder, the author of Mother’s Best at BlogHer Food last month. They were talking kitchen safety as well as serving up terrific samples of bacon-laced mac & cheese from one of the recipes in the book. Before I delve into kitchen safety, I just want to say that this book looks terrific. It’s full of comfort-food recipes and I’m a sucker for comfort food. It’s what I like to cook and it’s what I like to eat. I can’t wait to start making some of the recipes out of the book.
Here’s UL’s kitchen safety advice:
- Store all portable and small appliances and their cords out of the reach of children and always keep them a safe distance away from the sink.
- Keep all portable and countertop appliances unplugged when not in use.
- Never use or attempt to repair a damaged appliance; always consult a qualified technician.
- Every home should have working, UL Listed smoke detectors and fully charged UL Listed fire extinguishers strategically placed in the kitchen, garage and workshop.
Most people have heard the advice to use the time change as a reminder to check all of the smoke and carbon minoxide detectors in the house, and we do that in this household, but there are a couple of other things we do around that time as well:
- Check fire extinguishers to see if they need to be recharged or replaced. My kitchen extinguisher is rated ABC so it’ll work on grease fires.
- Replace the filters on the hood.
We learned about replacing the hood filters the hard way. We had just moved into our house in Spring 2002. It’s an old home, built in 1928 and was being rented out to a whole bunch of people. The first thing we did (after fixing the scary electrical issues) was to replace the old electric drop-in range with an inexpensive but well-rated gas range. Someday we’ll re-do the kitchen and I’ll get what I really want, but our current range is good enough. We didn’t replace the hood, though.
We hadn’t been in the house more than a few weeks when we had a celebratory dinner party. I think there were six other people here, and I was making filet mignon in a cast-iron skillet with a pan sauce.
I’ve made that pan sauce a million times, which involves shallots and some brandy that’s ignited in the pan. Sometimes my pan is hot enough that the brandy will ignite itself, no big deal. And that’s what happened this time. Except once the flame died down in the pan, my kitchen continued to burn because the filters in the hood were packed full of grease. I’m sure it had been a long time since they’d been changed (maybe never), and it just wasn’t something we thought about when we moved into the house.
The story has a happy ending. We were smart enough to have put a fire extinguisher in the kitchen as soon as we moved in, and I knew how to use it. We saved the steaks and announced to our guests that there would be no pan sauce. We lost power in about two-thirds of the house but were able to enjoy our dinner party and we dealt with the aftermath later. I got a new hood, and since then, always, always, change the filters every six months, using the time change as a reminder.
Thanks to UL for their sponsorship of BlogHer Food ’10, and for the chat on food safety!