Avoiding Common Kitchen Disasters

Ovens: Burning food in the oven even when you followed the recipe exactly? Oven temperatures can vary dramatically, so what might take 12 minutes in one oven takes less than 8 min. in another. To avoid burning your favorite cookies or rolls, the first time you use a new recipe that says bake 12-15 min., set a timer for the halfway point in cooking time. If your food looks close to being done after 6 min., you know it’s going to be done in just a couple more minutes.

Stovetop: To avoid pots that boil over: Add a teaspoon of olive oil to your pasta water to prevent it from boiling over. For candy or sauce recipes that say to stir occasionally, stir every 2-3 min. — don’t walk away without setting a timer to remind you to come back! Watch your flame or heat setting. Having heat that is too high means a greater chance of overflow. If you are using an open pot, you can also stick a wooden spoon in it to prevent it from overflowing.

Ingredient errors: Added too much salt or spices to a recipe? For soups or stews, add a potato cut into fourths and simmer for 15 min. to reduce the saltiness. You can also use sugar and cider vinegar if you’ve accidentally salted twice. Add 1 tsp. of each at a time. You may repeat the process.

Made a salsa or chili super-spicy? Lime juice will reduce some spiciness, as will dairy products like sour cream or cheese. Too spicy chili can be turned into a great chili cheese dip!

Microwaves:  If a container doesn’t say it is microwave safe, don’t put it in there. One of the most common mistakes is to pop plastic deli cartons in the microwave — if you cook for more than 30 seconds, there’s a good chance you will melt holes in the plastic. Remove aluminum foil before putting leftovers in the microwave. Aluminum can cause a an electrical spark that will short out your microwave, or worse, start an electrical fire.

AVOIDING KITCHEN FIRES: Use cookware and utensils as stated by the manufacturer. Make sure you wipe down the sides of a skillet if you are draining oil, BEFORE you put it back on an open flame. Oil can catch fire very quickly.Don’t use dishtowels to transfer pots from one burner to another. Too often, they can easily ignite. Use potholders instead.

  • If a pan of grease catches on fire, immediately cover it to extinguish the flame. Small grease fires can also be extinguished with baking soda.

  • Keep a kitchen fire extinguisher handy.

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