Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our first Egyptian kitchen fire

Technically, I suppose that since we have a gas stove we have kitchen fires every time we use our stove top or oven. Once upon a time our stove may have lit automatically, but it certainly doesn't anymore. We use a manual sparker, which is really quite nice compared to using regular matches since it distances us a few more inches from the fire.

I'm pretty comfortable lighting the stove top. Turn the gas on high, spark a flame, quickly turn the gas down while simultaneously yanking your arm away from the burst of fire. It's almost like second nature.

Lighting the oven is another story. I still hate lighting the oven--grateful it works, yes, but I still hate lighting it. There's this grate thing that you have to lift up to access the burner and the burner is huge, so when the gas finally catches a spark the fire really jumps out at you. My method works like this: turn the gas on high, lift up the grate, insert hand into the depths of the oven, spark a flame, yank both hands out of the oven and slam the door shut.

When I light the oven Rachel is supposed to stand in the doorway and she knows this. All I have to do is open the oven door and she runs over to the doorway and waits until I shut it again. You never know when an accident is going to happen, and if an accident ever does happen, I'd rather Rachel be standing over by the door instead of right by the oven.

Probably nothing will ever happen. At any rate, it makes it nice to not have her hanging around when I open the oven door to check on cookies.

Rachel also knows that the stove is "hot" and that she's not a allowed to touch it, but she likes to hang out on a stool by the stove while we cook. She gives a play-by-play of what we're doing at any given moment. Pot, pan, cut, stir, spoon, rice, soup, sauce, beans, lid, salt, cheese, spicy, shake, and fast are among the many, many words that Rachel uses to describe how dinners are made.

This evening she was out playing when I started making dinner. And I actually made dinner tonight. We didn't have dessert for dinner, unlike yesterday. I made rice with lentils, sweet and sour sauce, and vegetables (baby corn for the brave ones in the family; green beans for everyone including Andrew). We add lentils to our rice because it makes the rice more nutritious and filling, just in case you were wondering. We just boil them together. It isn't any extra work, really. You just have to remember to add the lentils a few minutes before you add the rice because they seem to take a while longer to get tender.

Anyway, I had my recipe for sweet and sour sauce written out on a little scrap of paper and sitting on the stool by the stove. I really like this recipe because its base is 3/4 of a cup of chicken broth and it only calls for a 3 tablespoons (each) of sugar, vinegar, and ketchup, while only requiring 1 tablespoon of soy sauce. So it seems to be lower in sodium and sugar than other recipes I've used that have like a half cup of sugar and a quarter cup of soy sauce. Who knows? We just like to pretend that we try to be healthy. (To finish off the recipe, in case you're wondering, I add a tablespoon of corn starch dissolved in some water to thicken things up a bit and also throw in some ginger).

I don't have the recipe memorized because this is only the second time that I've made it, so I really needed the recipe to glance at. I had, in one pot, the chicken broth, soy sauce, and vinegar. My other pot had started boiling, so I left the sauce and went to rinse the lentils. I was busy adding the lentils to the pot of boiling water, scraping them out of the strainer, when Rachel walked into the kitchen.

"I sit there!" she demanded, pointing at the stool.

"In a minute, let me finish this," I told her.

That was not the answer she was looking for. Since I wasn't going to help her she decided to help herself.

"I sit there!" she repeated firmly.

She picked up my recipe and, before I could stop her, put it on the stove...right by the burner that was on. The paper was sucked into the fire and instantly began to combust (because paper does that). Flames were licking out from under the pot. My hands were full. Rachel was staring in shock at what she had done. I screamed....


...and Andrew came running.

As fast as he ran, he still missed most of the action. The terror was over almost as soon as it happened. Paper burns fast, apparently.

"What happened?"

"My recipe was on the stool and Rachel wanted to sit on it so she moved my recipe and put it right in the fire. I thought she was going to melt her hands off."

Andrew looked under the pot. There were still little golden embers of paper burning away.

After we'd stopped laughing long enough to catch our breath, I handed him the colander with lentils stuck in all the little cracks, "Here. Will you empty this for me? I need to go consult my recipe."

When I came back into the kitchen, Rachel was perched on the stool.

"Hot!" she said, pointing to the stove and waving her hands in front of her body (which means "don't touch").

Hopefully she remembers the new rule she learned about the stove today. Stove Rule #2: Don't put paper on the burners.


  1. You know how to build up the tension in a story. I am glad there was a happy ending.

  2. So, how did you consult your recipe after Rachel burned it up?

  3. The recipe is on our Family Wiki, so I looked it up on my computer.