Friday, July 04, 2008


The inside of my oven was on fire.

I was literally watching my life go up in smoke.

Nearly paralyzed by fear, at least I had the presence of mind to turn off the gas.

Who knew that dripping margarine could cause so much damage in so little time?

In a quest to “get my life back on track” I’ve taken to preparing my meals at home; when you work in a restaurant you tend to get lazy about cooking.

I decided to make my variation of the Weight Watchers frittata recipe I found online about a year ago.

Except I add Milnot got rid of the skim milk and use smoked cheddar instead of part skim cheese.

I guess that doesn’t make it very weight watchery, does it?

While the frittatas turn out quite well, I do have a problem with them sticking to the bottom of the pans.

Despite buying new Caphlon non-stick muffin pans, the problem persisted.

So I thought if I added butter to the egg/milk mixture my sticking problems would be solved.

Except I used some margarine that was already open in the freezer.

Six of one, half dozen of the other---right?

So I melted the margarine and added it to the mixture.

I put together the frittatas, poured in the egg mixture and popped the whole kit and caboodle in the oven.

A few minutes later, I noticed that my oven was smoking. The margarine had bubbled over and had started dripping on the oven floor.

No worries----that happens all the time. Smoke adds flavor, right?

So I opened a few windows, disabled the smoke detector and took the frittatas out of the oven when they appeared to be done.

It was difficult to tell through all of the smoke rolling out of the oven.

I thought that if the source of the smoking were gone, the smoke itself would eventually disappear.


Then the white smoke that had been billowing out of the oven vents suddenly turned black.

There was a full fledged fire in my oven.

I froze.

My oven is powered by natural gas so fire reaching that gas line would have meant big trouble for everyone in my building.

I ran and turned off the gas and dialed the fire department.

I had a fire extinguisher but didn’t know how to use it.

I did on the other hand need to let my neighbors know that they might need to get out of the building.

I banged on my neighbor’s door across the hall and told them what was going on.

The panicked look on my face probably relayed the seriousness of the situation.

Thank God someone took action.

One of my neighbors ran back to their kitchen, grabbed the fire extinguisher, ran back to my kitchen and put the fire out in my oven.

All the while her husband stood there with a dazed look on his face.

Not to be anti-man or anything but I know who I’m gonna ask to hang cabinets when the time comes.

Way to “man up.”

Not soon afterwards, the fire department showed up.

While certain scenes in Backdraft play over and over in my head, I was hoping to meet hot firemen in a less taxing manner.

I.e., not professionally.

After they checked out the oven and made sure the fire was out, one of the firemen asked me why I didn’t put it out with baking soda.

I couldn’t give him an answer.

The firemen went away but the knot in my stomach didn’t.

The thought of another major thing happening in my life was enough to make me take to the couch until my queasiness passed.

I’m working very hard to keep things together but am barely managing to keep my head above water.

When I was telling this story to a group of people, someone mentioned that fire symbolized anger.

And it’s no secret that I’m pissed about this unemployment situation.

Here’s to hoping that all of the fires, physical and spiritual, have been extinguished.


Eric Allix Rogers said...

Yikes! I've always figured that if you have a gas oven, and the food catches on fire, you could just let it burn itself out. It's never happened to me, though, so who knows how I'd freak out if it did. Glad to know it was just your oven!

The North Coast said...

Yikes!! A totally terrifying event!

Jesus, how much more can you take? You have been through 20 kinds of hell already, without this.

I hope you score a VERY snazzy job to offset the sheer misery of the past two years. I highly admire your fortitude in the face of so many really unfortunate life events.

Thank you for reminding me to get my fire extinguisher charged up.

Is your stove salvageable?

I hope you get re-employed at a good job very soon, and I hope the first thing you do when you are financially able is get a 220V cable run and get an electric stove.

If I had my way, there wouldn't be a gas range on the whole North American continent. This city's dependence on natural gas for cooking appalls me. The stuff is intrinsically dangerous, gas ovens don't heat evenly, and now the crap is EXPENSIVE.

Because I'm still in a rental, I did not want to invest $400 in having a 220 cable run for electric, but I was sitting here hating my gas stove more every day. Finally, last year my line popped a very serious leak, and visitors had already told me my apt. smelled always like gas. I was also sick of a separate connection charge just to turn on the stove for 10 minutes in the morning and at night.

So I bought a tiny little Avanti miniature stove, which has a small convection oven (NOT a toaster oven)and two solid core electric burners, and runs on 120V. It is, unfortunately, not high quality, and I could not find a similar small stove of higher quality. I would happily have paid more for a better-made version of this little thing.But it will do until I buy- I don't figure I need a 4.5 cu ft oven just to bake a piece of fish. It adds perhaps $3 monthly to my electric bill, vs the $25 a month I was paying for just the gas stove (my heat is included in my rent.)

If your stove is not salvageable, you might consider acquiring one of these little things. Just one thing... always unplug it when you are done using it, as an extra safety measure. You can't be too careful about potential fire hazards.

Be CAREFUL, dammit. We don't want any more bad things to happen to you. This was too close a call.