Fall flavors call for safe cooking
Suetta K. Tingler
It was just past midnight when the city turned into a towering inferno. More than 13,200 homes, 87 parish churches and most of the city’s government buildings, as well as the beautiful St. Paul’s Cathedral, were a total loss in the flames. Sunday, Sept. 2, 1666, became known for the Great Fire of London when nearly 80% of the city was destroyed.
At first, the cause of the Great Fire was not known, but eventually it was discovered to have started along Pudding Lane near London Bridge in the kitchen of the baker to King Charles II, Thomas Farynor. Farynor failed to have properly extinguished the kitchen’s oven following a busy day of baking biscuits for the Royal Navy. For three days, the Great Fire raged due to a single careless act involving an oven.
Kitchens are responsible for at least 50% of all residential home fires with cooking the cause. Most kitchen fires happen in our homes during the dinner hours of 5 to 8 p.m. and are man-caused.
September tends to be the month cooks begin to seriously turn the knobs of their stoves, therefore, making this month the perfect time to pass on a few simple suggestions to promote personal safety, wellness and to prevent kitchen fires. I hope you’re already familiar with most, if not all, of the following, but let’s review.
Get a fire extinguisher and keep it near the kitchen but not next to stove.
Wash your hands with soap and water before, after and frequently while working in the kitchen. Don’t grab a dish towel to dry your hands if that towel is meant to dry dishes; use paper towels to toss. Sanitize work space.
Don’t use the same cutting board for meat, fruit and vegetables.
Never put cooked food on an unwashed plate or cutting board that has had raw food on it.
Avoid wearing loose, baggy clothing, especially with long sleeves, or dangling jewelry when working in the kitchen. Tie back long hair.
Wear shoes in the kitchen to prevent falls from slippery messes due to spills on the floor or broken glass.
Don’t try to cook holding a baby or toddler in arm or in a blanket near a burning stove.
Establish firm house rules for kids, especially those younger than 13, regarding the use of kitchen appliances, knives, stove tops and ovens; best to use only with adult supervision.
Install safety locks if toxic products are stored in lower cabinets. Store matches in secured containers safely out of the reach of children.
If you burn yourself, hold burned area under cool (not cold) running water. Do NOT apply butter.
Sharp knives are safer to use than dull ones. Store knives in a block or special drawer away from children.
When using a knife, always cut away from your body.
Never attempt to catch a falling knife.
Turn off ovens and unplug cooking appliances when not in use.
Keep electric appliances away from water to avoid shocks.
Don’t leave a stove or oven on or with its door open for room heat.
Use a step stool for reaching high places.
Don’t allow perishables, like dairy, fish or raw meats to sit out on the counter.
Cook foods to their safe internal temperatures. Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Don’t be tempted to eat unbaked batters like that of brownies and cookie dough containing raw eggs.
Turn pot handles inward toward the back of stove so they can’t be reached or pulled down.
Never leave the kitchen with pots cooking on the stove top; keep an eye on the oven as well. Never leave an oven door open with small children around.
Use a frying screen over a skillet to prevent grease splattering. If grease catches fire, quickly cover pan with a lid to extinguish.
Never add water to a pan that has hot oil in it for it could splatter and result in burns. Throw baking soda or salt on a grease fire; do NOT use flour or baking powder for they’ll make it worse.
Avoid using extension cords; discard broken appliances. Check appliances for frayed cords including those of slow cookers. Allow such pots to cook only on well-insulated, heat-resistant surfaces.
Be careful when lifting lids off cooking pots; tilt lids away from you to prevent steam burns.
Never set hot glass dishes removed from an oven or stove top on wet or cold surfaces. The temperature change can cause glass to shatter. Use a trivet, potholder or cutting board.
Never use a wet potholder, dish towel or a wad of paper towels to handle hot handles or pans from hot ovens; use only dry potholders.
Candle-light dinners are nice but never leave burning candles unattended.
Don’t leave an automatic dishwasher operating and go away. My friend’s house nearly burned down due to this while taking a “quick” walk.
Post phone numbers for poison control, local ambulance as well as an emergency 911 reminder.
Welcome the flavors of autumn to the family table. For starters, try serving roasted chicken with squash dressing.
(Paula Deen recipe)
2 cups sliced yellow squash, cooked and drained
2 cups crumbled corn bread
1 (10.75-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 1-1/2 -quart baking dish. Cook squash in boiling water just until tender. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, stirring well. Pour into prepared baking dish. Bake 40 minutes or until set.
Apples go great with pork.
(Gourmet Magazine, 1995)
4 Golden Delicious apples (about 1-1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup plus 1 drop maple flavoring
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Peel and core apples; cut into 1/4-inch thick slices. In a 12-inch heavy skillet, heat butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté apples, turning them, until golden and tender. Stir in maple syrup and flavoring, water, lemon juice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt; cook, stirring until apples are glazed. Serves 6.
When in doubt, serve broccoli. This dish won’t let your taste buds down.
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 (10.75-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups crushed Ritz crackers
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x9-inch casserole baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine broccoli, mayo, cheese, soup and eggs. Mix well; mixture will be stiff. Place mixture in prepared baking dish. Top with the crushed crackers. Bake for 35 minutes or until set and browned. Serves 8.
After many years of service, this Roman Catholic priest who loved to cook chose to live out his life as a cloistered monk. This is the recipe he always served his family when they visited. It goes great with a green tossed salad, a hunk of crusty French bread and a glass of wine. Bon appetite!
FATHER FRED’S STEW
(“Best of the Best” from QVC Cookbook)
1-1/2 pounds stew beef
1 (8-ounce) can tomatoes
1 can cream of celery soup
1/2 cup red wine
3 bouillon cubes
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut beef, potatoes, carrots and onion into bite-size pieces. Combine all ingredients in a large casserole dish. Cover and cook for 4 hours at 300 degrees. Serves 6.