Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Cooking without (Adult) Supervision

Can imperil your health!

This weekend I was a cooking machine for the New Years Eve party I catered. As I choreographed my culinary dance, I found myself doing some fairly stupid things. AND I know better. The off-stage narrator, which is constantly running in my head, jumped in several times to warn me of potential hazards. Did I listen to the omnipotent one? Of course not. I like him reminding me “Kiddies, never do this without “Adult Supervision” after I commence some idiotic stunt. Which is ironic, yes? Because if I’m not an adult by now, when will I be? It’s not like I didn’t KNOW AT THE TIME I'm doing something STUPID. I just choose not to listen. *story of my life* So for those of you, who like me, spend a lot of time in the kitchen – and have become lackadaisical – here are some reminders.

Stupid Action #1. Sharp knives really ARE safer than dull knifes. But pirouetting from the dish-drainer to the kitchen bar with a chef’s knife in wet hands is stupid. My pirouette quickly turned into Irish high-stepping jig as the knife leaped to the floor. Only my skilled “Riverdance Moves”, prevented my toes from being cut off.

Out of this I remembered two important rules:

Rule # 1 Always, always, wear closed-toe shoes in the kitchen – dancing skills are not a good safety strategy! (fuzzy, step-in slippers do not count, either. Nor do socks!)

Rule # 2 Dry hands have a better grip. The towel hanging off your shoulder is there to dry those wet hands. It’s not there so it can float out like a cape when you turn really fast. Use the towel! Also, make sure you have a SECURE grip on ANY knife before beginning a death spin.

Stupid Action #2 One of my hot-pads got some sweet potato syrup on it as I turned them while they baked. Also, have I mentioned, "I am anal"? So I tried to “spot-wash” the hot pad. About 20 minutes later I used the same hot-pad to adjust the cooking racks in my oven.

Let me tell you, water and cloth are not good insulators from heat! And no, "Mind over matter" DOES NOT WORK, no matter how many times you’ve seen the people walking on hot coals. Yes, skin will blister – even if you continue to hold something hot for “just a minute” while the brain processes the scream-signal which encourages you to drop the oven rack.

Rule # 3 Wait until you’re DONE cooking to start laundering kitchen items. Or – here’s a good one. If you have 12 pot-holders, use one of the 11 DRY ones instead of the one, wet, hot-pad.

Stupid Action #3 Listen to what the the voice-over is saying when you place potentially drippy things (sweet potatoes with holes in them) in the oven. The judges will not remove points from your “difficulty-of-execution” score for putting foil on the rack below the potatoes. There is a high percentage most things will ooze as they heat up. It’s like Murphy’s Law. Don’t bet against it.

However, if you choose to walk on the wild-side, do not compound an already bad situation by trying to “scoop” up the now molten syrup – which has strategically dripped right next to the cooking element with a METAL SPATULA. Something about conductivity, and soldering iron, or some such chemical/heat reaction law comes into play. Fortunately I did not end up with curly hair – or look like a cartoon character who’s stuck his finger/tail in an electrical outlet. I’m lucky that way.

Rule # 4 Once again – wait until you’re DONE COOKING before following through on your compulsion to clean up messes that you shouldn’t have let happen in the first place.

Rule # 5 Never, ever, place ANYTHING METAL against the cooking element in an electric over.

Rule # 6 If you’re cooking with gas – still don’t touch the cooking element. Especially with a pastry brush – or a plastic spatula. Hair bristles and plastic are much more difficult to remove from the oven than the original spill. (Trust me).

Stupid Action #4 Remember the guard that goes on the food processing blade? It says something like, “Sharp blade. Be careful when handling and always replace guard when finished using this blade in the food processor.”

Well, considering how it can grind almonds into paste, perhaps it’s not so bright to drop it in the dish-drainer ON IT’S SIDE, and then place other things on top/next to it so its little blades are hidden, eh? Chances are – the next thing you quickly burrow through the dish-drainer for, will be right next to the “CAUTION SHARP BLADES” thingy.

Rule # 7 If you wash something sharp, dry it right away and replace the guard.

Rule # 8 If that’s too “difficult”, then lay it down so the blades are HORIZONTAL to the surface, not PARALLEL to the surface.

Rule # 9 ALWAYS place the Chef’s knife, “blade DOWN” in the dish-drainer as you shove it between the wire sides and the silverware bucket, not “blade UP”. (See reason why as stated above when talking about food processor blades.)

Stupid Action #5 Yes, you can see what you’ve placed in the wash pan BEFORE you make soap suds. But apparently soap SUDS are not as transparent as a single glorious soap BUBBLE. Therefore placing a serrated knife, a paring knife, and a table knife in the dish pan along with other utensils, makes it difficult for you to accurately “see” the location of the sharp items in relationship to the benign items. Dish washing shouldn’t entail a digit-endangering game of “Memory”.

Rule # 10 Do not place sharp items in the wash tub. Leave them laying on the counter until you’re ready to wash them.

Finally, it is generally best to NOT REGALE your clients with these stories BEFORE they eat your concoctions. In fact, in my experience, it’s wise to wait until AFTER the midnight champagne has been poured, and swallowed, before you start in on the “hilarious” thing that happened in the kitchen. And don’t be surprised if they ask to look at your hands (and maybe even your toes) if you give too many “real-sounding details”. It’s hard to pass-off this knowledge as “dramatic-license”.

(Although that’s EXACTLY what I’m employing here!)

1 comment:

Keetha said...

Oh this is great! Thanks for sharing these tips and rules. I'm glad they weren't at the cost of any digits, hair, or appliances.