Friday, October 28, 2016

"T-t-tamara...? Guh-grease Fire...

     "I thu-think we're about to have a guh-grease fire!"

     And indeed there was, but it was a small one, a little dancing flame in the center of the gas burner that persisted, sputtering, after I turned gas off.

     There had been a lone potato left over from early in the week.  About medium-sized.  I had eggs but no breakfast meat, so I thought I'd make home-made potato chips, pour off the grease, and scramble a couple of eggs in the same pan.

     Slice a tater thin enough and you can't fit all the chips-to-be in even a 12" skillet with an eighth of an inch of olive oil sputtering in it.  The potato really wanted rinsing in cold water, and I left half the chips soaking in a small bowl while I fried the first group, sizzling merrily away.

     The second group was too damp -- I had tiny grease geysers! There's a price to be paid for that, in time spent scrubbing with household ammonia, but it's worth it for homemade potato chips.  Got the second batch done and on paper towel in a Pyrex pie dish, and went to pour out the oil into a custard cup--

     Hot olive oil has remarkable laminar flow properties, at least I think that's the term.  The Coandă Effect: try to pour it and instead, it follows the surface in an unexpected manner. (This is why those old cast-iron frying pans have a pouring spout; alas, my lovely modern non-stick pans don't.)  I got most of the olive oil into the cup and then noticed the spreading pool of olive oil on the top of the stove, flowing inexorably toward the recesses of the gas burners, one of which was lit.  I had a 12" skillet in one hand, the pie dish was atop the other front burner grate, a teakettle lives on the back burner and the skillet's large enough that if I set it on the free back burner, it would block getting at the one that was on--

     All of that went through my thoughts as quickly as a drop of hot grease melting through stryofoam.  I shut off the burner and saw the sputtering, ghostly oil flame at the center, turned and grabbed several sheets of paper toweling while stuttering, "T- T- T-" and then managed to get out the sentence I opened with while frantically mopping up the oil.  Got the grate fished out without burning myself or setting the paper toweling on fire, smothered the little flame and was working on the oil that had pooled around the burner when Tam showed up, looking alarmed.

     The chips were good.  I didn't scramble any eggs.

6 comments:

rickn8or said...

Nice juggling...

Merle Morrison said...

Was it too serious to just let it burn itself out?

Merle

Kirk Harnack said...

Well told, Roberta. You're skilled with the English.

Roberta X said...

Ricnk8: Not sure how nice it was but it sure felt like juggling! It's very much a galley kitchen, which I usually like. But when go things go sideways, you don't have much space to rearrange them in.

Merle: Gas stove, a nice little pool of oil in the recess around the burner and a fire in the center? Can't just let that be. I took the paper towel and smothered it, a trick that isn't risky if you don't hesitate.

Kirk, thank you!

Anonymous said...

You can think of laminar flow as an 'orderly flow' over an object, like an aircraft wing behaving properly.

Non-properly behaving wings can make your life interesting if you happen to not be in contact with the ground.

(For a short while, anyways...)

On frypans, those round screen things on top of the pan keeps the popping and sputtering mostly in the pan, making frying while nude a lot more comfortable...

*wink* :)

Anonymous said...

For stove grease fires a "fire blanket" seems to be what most professionals recommend:

https://www.amazon.com/Tonyko%C2%AE-Fiberglass-Fire-Blanket-39-inch/dp/B01FOILJEI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1477763685&sr=8-1&keywords=fire+blanket