May 15, 2012

Up in Smoke

When I was a teenager living with my dad, I thought it was crazy to have a smoke detector in the kitchen.  It beeped so often!!  (You may read between the lines as to the cause.)  I'm thankful to say that now my current smoke detector does not beep quite so often.  (

After Carrie's Great Smoke Out (no fire, just smoke and months of complications and relocation), now I know the value of working smoke detectors in the kitchen.  (Carrie did have smoke detectors...but for some reason they chose not to work.  Did you ever find out why?)  I now value smoke detectors, even when they awaken the children.  During. NAPTIME.

One Friday afternoon I decided to whip up something sweet to eat.  I made my giant chocolate and peanut butter chip cookie since provides practically instant gratification.  I baked it right on my pizza stone, and it was delicious.

Since it was, indeed, Friday, I was making homemade pizza for dinner.  Forty-five minutes before baking, the oven and pizza stone need to be preheated.  To do this, I removed the cookie from the pizza pan and transferred it to a plate.  Sounds much less than dramatic, right?

I do not place our pizza stone on our ceramic stove top without placing a potholder or trivet under it.  As it happens, we were given a pair of handmade trivets (of a natural fiber) as a wedding gift, and I placed the pizza stone on these trivets.  (I forget which African country our missionary friends sent them from, but I think it was Kenya...or possibly Zambia.  Despite my failed memory, these are rather special to me.  And they match!)

Back to the pizza prep.  The cookie has been removed from the pizza stone, so I placed the stone in the oven and preheated the oven to the rather warm temperature of 450°.

My husband and I are on the couch, probably watching "The Mentalist" and eating more than our share of that giant cookie.  He asks me what the smell is.  Hmm.  Yeah, I smell something, but it is probably just the crumbs of the cookie burning off the stone.  He asks me to check it out, so I pass Little Sis to him and walk into the kitchen.

Despite my many, many burned food and other items in the kitchen, I was shocked to see smoke pouring out of the steam vent.  Seriously.  It was black and scary.

Looking at the stove top, I knew right away that one of the trivets was missing.  And I knew that it must have been wedged between the metal carrier handles of the pizza stone and the stone itself.

I threw open the oven door.  Smoke assaulted my eyes and blinded me for a minute.  I yelled to Derek to come and help because I knew that smoke detector would be beeping within seconds.  It did.  (The smoke detector is not located in the kitchen.)  I threw a towel at him and managed to find potholders.  With restored vision, I grabbed the pizza stone and threw open the door to the garage (located very close to the oven).  Not caring if Lucy, our indoor cat, escaped, I left the door open and squeezed my way between the parked van and sedan in the garage.  I practically flung the pizza stone to the driveway pavement as the smoke continued to pour off the trivet hiding beneath it.
(Breath, Annette, that was the climax and the excitement of the story is mostly over.  Amusement awaits readers at the end.)
If you look closely at the trivet, you can see the dark and light contrast on the right-hand side.  It's part of the design.  Above shows the side that was protected by the pizza stone.  The bottom picture is the culprit of all the smoke and shows the underside of the trivet-the part exposed to the preheating oven.

Smoke filled the entire first floor of our home.  The second floor wasn't nearly as hazy.  The smoke detector did its job and beeped furiously for several minutes while my husband used a dish towel to move the smoke away and opened windows.  I was at the door swinging it open and shut.

Our smoke detectors are linked to each other.  That means that when the one on the first floor went off, so did the ones in all of the bedrooms.  Amazingly, Brother napped through the whole ordeal.  Big Sis promptly came down and asked many questions about all of the smoke.  Mostly, the questions were left unanswered, but no, there was not a fire.  And no, the fire truck would not be coming.  I put her to work swinging open and shut the garage door so that we might breath easily again.

When the whole thing was over, and we could let the breeze move through the open windows, Big Sis had a  request.

She asked if I could make the alarm go off again.  (You see, we don't get much excitement around these parts!)  Derek assured her that I would make the alarm beep again, but maybe not that same day.

I have suggested to my husband that I could be fired from kitchen duties.  Somehow we get through these incidences time and time again.  And we laugh.  And we're thankful that no fire truck was needed.

We are thankful that it was not worse AND that we were not expecting company.  It took days of open windows to really remove most of the smoke.  (It may still linger a bit.  I think I've gotten used to it.)  But really, at least it was not a roasted chicken in the middle of the night that displaced my family from my home...

(If you are wondering about my husband being home during nap time on a Friday, I should explain that he has every other Friday off because he works long days.  By the time the cookie was out of the oven the yard was mowed and he was ready to relax.  Maybe he'll have the chance some other time.)

Maybe I should write a post of all my kitchen mishaps.  There are many, though this may have been the most exciting.  Thankfully.  Thanks for reading to the end.  I know this adventure was way more exciting to live it than to read it.

~ Annette {This Simple Mom}

7 comments:

  1. Oh, no! That is quite the kitchen adventure. And brother slept through?! WOW! Glad all is well for the most part - will the trivet clean up, or is it forever a new shade?

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  2. Glad the damage was minor and there was only the inconvenience of the smoke. I have a son that sleeps through everything and I used to be like that when I was younger.

    We have had problems with our smoke detector going off. We have a fan attached to a book case near the smoke detector that is between the kitchen/dining room and the living room. We use it often. I still jump up each time the smoke detector goes off. Hoping it is nothing but the heat or a little smoke from something spilled in the oven. Only a couple times has it been something more serious.

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  3. Oh wow! I'm so glad it wasn't worse and it was caught early on. I had to smile at your daughter's wanting to do it again. :-)

    We did have to call the fire trucks once, years ago, but thankfully the fire was out before they got there. They did have big fans that they put in the windows that helped get the smoke out, though. I had placed a bag of popcorn on the stovetop, for some reason (we had hardly any counter space in that kitchen, but it still seems a dumb thing for me to have done), and then I turned on a burner to start dinner, and turned on the wrong one, the one under the popcorn bag (it's also rare that I'd turn a burner on first before having a pan on it -- I was really off my game that day), but of course the bag ignited. The boys were very excited about the fire truck, though!

    I just realized last week, when investigating a funny smell in the laundry room (I've know two people who had fires start in their dryers, so I'm a bit overcautious about checking for that) that there are no smoke alarms in there, and what I thought was a smoke alarm in the kitchen was a CO2 monitor (since we have gas heat and some gas appliances). The only smoke detectors are in the bedrooms! So I need to get some ASAP.

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  4. Oh wow! What an adventure! I'm glad it all ended well. Our babysitter had the house alarm go off the other day because of a storm, and that has given us the drive to actually do something about it.

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  5. Well, it was exciting to ME to read it! I wasn't really sure how you managed your own fire.

    (No, never did figure out the alarm business in our case.) But we ARE hoping to be wrapping things up with insurance this week or next! (Yes, still ongoing!)

    Hurray that no truck was needed! (However,I was informed post-chicken experience that calling the fire department is helpful, regardless, because they have big fans that can blow the smoke out faster and more effectively, causing less damage to the structure ultimately.) So, now I know. But I'm hoping, like yourself, to avoid such kitchen mishaps in the future!

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  6. Bless your heart! I'm glad everybody is safe!

    I'm sure it was quite terrifying at the time, but since I know y'all are all safe, I have to say I can't help but laugh. ;)

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  7. Thank you everyone...and I don't mind you laughing at all!!

    It should be noted that Barbara and Carrie both mentioned that the fire dept has giant fans to help remove smoke...and they both have notable smoky experiences!

    The trivet was made from a reed-like material (think basket), so it had to be disposed of...not just a new shade of charcoal. :)

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