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Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Wreck in the Kitchen

Yeah, that's me!  I really can be a wreck in the kitchen.  Just the other day I nearly dumped an entire pan of 375 degree bacon grease on my foot.  Thankfully I missed my foot and splashed it on the floor, which then ricocheted onto my calf.  Awesome.  We all have accidents, right?

While taking a glance at all my scars I realize that they all could have been way worse, like the time I was slicing a mango with my freshly sharpened boning knife.  Mangos are not easy to slice no matter what knife you use, but if I were to give any advice to someone who is about to undergo the process of slicing a mango it would be to STAY CALM.  If you were just having an argument with a child, a spouse, your mother, a solicitor, the plumber, or whoever please PLEASE do not pick up a knife and slice a mango. My experience resulted in 3 shots IN THE CUT and 5 stitches to the top segment of my ring finger on my left hand. What's worse is that I didn't even get to eat my mango.

Then there was the time I panini pressed my right arm.  Yes... <sigh> you heard right.  I was the suite level chef for a minor league baseball team and our kitchen was small and tight to say the least.  As I was squeezing behind 3 others on the line, I leaned over the panini press.  I was not aware that it was even turned on yet and my arm rested right onto it.  I had 2 very long and large 2nd degree burns running down my forearm. Plunging it in dirty dishwasher to cool it off probably wasn't the brightest course of action either, but tell me you're thinking straight when you just turned your arm into the sandwich special of the day.  Days afterward, one friend told me I looked like I was attacked by a wolverine.  My arm still looks like that and I'm pretty sure I'll have those scars for many MANY more years. My advice here?  If it's cooking equipment, just pretend it's always on.

Now let's talk about the really fun one.  I'm 37 weeks pregnant and we have some friends over to watch a game on tv.  I can't remember what sport it was, but I'm sure it was MSU Spartan related (GO GREEN!). I, of course, always like to put on a good spread and I was frying up my own tortilla chips. Fresh fried tortilla chips are monumentally better than chips out of a bag, especially when serving them up with fresh salsa. Anyway, all was going well except that I was using a brand new pair of tongs to take the chips out of the oil.  As I was removing the last batch, the tongs sprung open in the pan and splashed 375 degree oil all over my left wrist and forearm. I had a 2nd degree burn (3rd degree in some areas) that was about 4" long and wrapped 3/4's of the way around my wrist. Also I got a nice 1"x2" burn on my belly.  I did not go to the emergency room for this one (at least not at that moment). Within 4 hours I had a blister the size of my face that I could push and slosh around my wrist. It was gross... I'm not gonna lie. But, I'm no wimp and I'm no rookie to burns. I slathered in with the contents of one of the 3 billion tubes of diaper rash cream I received at my baby shower, wrapped it in gauze, and called it good. Within 8 hours I started having some contractions. I sneezed and had to run to the bathroom because... well all you mothers out there know how weak our bladders get when we're pregnant. Called my doc about the pains I was having and he advised me to come in just to check it out. Turns out my water had broke and I was in full on labor. 14 hours later I gave birth to our beautiful son AND got a nice new pretty wrap for my arm because the nurses were less than impressed with the self diagnosis and homemade burn dressing.  They were impressed, however, with the diaper rash cream idea. Advice? Don't use tongs to remove ANYTHING from hot oil unless you are ready to become a parent... or something like that.

That's not all of my scars, but those are the best of them. At least once per week I add to my collection, but there are a lot of distractions in this house. A 2 year old under your feet in a tight kitchen doesn't usually help. Focus in the kitchen is something I should really work on. However, I really have created some awesome dishes AND those tortila chips were devoured within the hour. You'll find the process for making them below and I promise they are worth it, guests will go on and on about them, and you'll think "seriously people?  They were super easy".  Just be sure to use the proper frying utensils like a skimmer to remove the chips from the oil and you will avoid the burns. Good luck, stay safe, and keep plenty of band aids and burn cream (or diaper rash cream) on hand.

Fresh Tortilla Chips
10-15 packaged corn tortillas
Canola or vegetable oil (enough to fill 1/2 way up your pan)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

Cut your tortillas into quarters or eighths depending on the size you want.  Heat oil to 375 degrees. Slowly add small amounts of wedges, trying not to over crowd your pan. Turn them every few seconds to keep them from sticking together.  Remove from hot oil with a skimmer when the bubbles in the oil start to slow dramatically. Place on a cooling rack or paper towels to drain. Sprinkle immediately with light salt.

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