Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Kitchen Safety

I do try to be safe in the kitchen, mostly because I love having fingertips and uncharred skin, two underrated aspects of daily life.  This week, I took my life into my own hands and nearly managed to handle both kitchen safety issues in a single week. 

First, the flame.  For Christmas, I was given a Toas-Tite Sandwich Maker, which is the finest sandwich making machine in history.  For those of you too lazy to click the link and see this machine in all of its simplistic glory, the Toas-Tite maker is product of the 1940s and 1950s.  Made in the finest aluminum, the simple clam-shell shape allows you to make a sandwich on an oven, which should be perfectly cooked and sealed in about three minutes.  Growing up, my mother used one to make grilled cheese and grilled cheeseburgers, which were always delightful, with a shiny crust and perfectly cooked insides. 

Being the adventurous sort, I decided to take the grilled cheeseburger to the next level.  Not content to lightly coat some bread with butter, insert a little cheese and meat, I made a whole cheeseburger inside, including pickle chips, cheddar cheese, tomato slices and organic ground beef from the farmer's market this autumn.  On well buttered bread, the ingredients went, following a careful trim for that perfect seal.  Three minutes later, I should have a great meal.  Instead, chaos ensued. 

Toas-tite maker placed on the hot burner and it begins.  The seal failed.  And something, maybe butter, maybe pickle juice begins to gently leak out near the open flame.  Dilemma was staring me in the face, do I abandon my meal and accept safety or go forward, grab a towel and roll the dice.  Prayer was a thought as well, but having no religion made prayer impractical.  So, I grabbed a towel and waited one and one half minutes.  Once the original liquid slowed, cheese began to pour forth, like an oozing nightmare that would not stop.  After the time passes, I flip it over and fortunately, no more liquid escaped.  Cooking finished and crisis averted, I open the sandwich maker and the bread begins to tear on one side.  After some cautious jabbing with a steak knife, I scrape away all of the filling and about 75% of the bread, which made for a delicious, but visually unappealing sandwich. 

To compound this, I was making a salad today.  A simple act of slicing cucumber led to folly as the knife went cut, cut, shoot out of the cucumber and graze my finger.  Fortunately, years of watching cooking shows taught me to keep my fingertips curled underneath, avoiding more than a slight nick around the first knuckle, but boy did it hurt as I ran around trying to find the bandages in the back of the linen closet.  So, hopefully, I can avoid further crisis in the kitchen this week for my own safety. 

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