Monday, May 5, 2008

Sunday Morning Kitchen Fire

It all started well enough.  Michael had found a recipe off Gluten-Free Girl for Potato Pancakes a couple days prior.  I had bought the ingredients: potatoes, green onions, garlic, corn starch.  Sunday morning, we followed the directions.   First off - I don't know how these things were supposed to bind together.  There wasn't near enough corn starch for that.  But anyway - the directions said to get our cast iron skillet good and hot on a high heat.  Okay.  Did that, pre-mushing.  Then they said to add 2 TBSP of olive oil.  I stood back, of course, because you expect it to spit - but it didn't spit.  Oh no!  A flame shot up past the hood of the stove!!!  (See the photo.  That white rectangle, surrounded by soot, is where there was a magnet.)  The flames got up that high.  
And they didn't just get up that high and go down.  They got up that high and stayed up that high.  While I ran around like a chicken saying, "What do we do?  What do we do?"  Michael was very calm and turned off the heat.  Then he told me to get the fire extinguisher.  So I did and he blasted the fire (which had gone down just a tad by then.)  I opened the door to the back porch b/c the kitchen was filled with smoke and got a fan.  I also had to take down the fire alarms b/c they were going off.

Magoo was surprisingly calm during this little drama, watching his Saturday morning cartoons and eating oatmeal.

No one was hurt.  Nothing permanently damaged - but the clean  Wiping off the soot from the fire and the powder from the fire extinguisher did not make for a relaxing Sunday morning.

Half the batter got sprayed - but half the batter was still good.  So I went online - found another recipe that called for an egg - yep, that'll bind 'em - and I fried them up in the stainless steel skillet with Safflower oil.  

They were good - but not exactly worth all the trouble.  

But here's my question: what went wrong?  Mike thought maybe the skillet wasn't properly seasoned.  Another friend thought that olive oil is one of the more flammable oils and I should have either made sure to use a high heat olive oil (which was not specified in the directions) or another kind of oil.  I believe my mother-in-law suggested putting the oil in before the skillet got really hot.  Does anyone know?  I'm curious.


äiti said...

Wow. Thank the universe that no one was hurt.

I am surprised that she suggested the use of olive oil. Olive oil is typically avoided for high heat cooking because the smoking point is lower than other vegetable oils.

Safflower and peanut are good oils for high heat.

That being said, my gut tells me it wasn't the olive oil that caused the fire.

I'm not sure if an improperly seasoned Cast iron skillet would create or catch fire either.

Is it possible that there was something flammable in the skillet? Unlikely...I know you'd have noticed that pillowcase lined with wood chips if it had been there...

Scary, scary! I think you should e-mail GF Girl and ask her what she and the Chef think :-)

Even without stove top fires, potato pancakes are a bit of a chore to make. But, the concensus in our home is that they are very worth it. We usually have them once a month.

Julie_c said...

You know - they really weren't that hard to put together - compared to all the other stuff I make - just the clean up was a bear!

You could be right though - make there was residue of something on the skillet.