Last Friday evening, after I lit the Sabbath candles, we heard a sudden deafening noise from the kitchen. I headed over to investigate despite my husband warning me away. He was sure the kitchen was about to explode.
It turned out that the pressure cooker was leaking tomato sauce all over the hotplate, where I had placed the pot to keep warm until dinner. Large amounts of sauce spread from the hotplate to the counter, the dishwasher underneath, and the floor. I adjusted the cooker to let out the steam and wiped up the mess as best I could.
Like most kitchen accidents, this one could have been prevented. I had filled the cooker too full of Chicken with Tomatoes and Black Olives. Admittedly I did it I knew it was risky, although why it waited until that moment to overflow I’ll never understand. Sometimes you want to see how far you can stretch things, you know?
It was a big mess, but it could have been worse.
Even when no one gets hurt, kitchen accidents waste both food and time. Accidents are most likely to happen when you are rushed, distracted, or under pressure. Here are some tips to prevent both minor and major kitchen accidents.
- Choose the right-sized pot for the job. Many pots, food processors and electric kettles have a line on the side marking the maximum capacity. They tend to be conservative. Grains and beans make more foam than other foods. Also choose a large container when transferring liquids, and move the bowl next to the sink when adding water from the tap. (Never add water to a bowl of food straight from the tap, in case you add too much).
- Keep heavier equipment and glassware on lower shelves, or on the counter if you use them frequently. If you have small children, keep cabinets locked.
- Keep your floor and working space clear. Take the extra effort to remove clutter before starting to cook, or things can fall off the counter or table. Move non-cooking items out of the kitchen, and vice-versa.
- Cook when you have a minimum of distractions, especially when you are trying something new or complex. Stick to simple recipes when cooking with small children around. Use a timer to remind you to check food, and when it’s to go on to the next step. If you have to leave the kitchen to answer the phone or door, set the timer or turn off the stove completely.
- Tie up long electric cords with a rubber band to keep them out of the way. Turn pots so that the handles are on the side and not sticking out in the front, where someone could walk into it or a child could grab it.
- Close packages and containers immediately and securely. You don’t want water to drip into your flour tin. Use a clothespin or breadtie for bags. Things with a tendency to leak can go in a plastic bag.
- Don’t crowd things. If you push things into the refrigerator, you may knock over things in back or keep the refrigerator from closing properly. Utensils stacked carelessly can topple.
- Protect yourself with proper clothes, clothes, shoes, gloves, or oven mitts, especially when working with boiling water or hot oil.
- Keep knives sharp. You’ll need less pressure to slice the items, and if you do cut yourself the wound will heal faster.
- Keep items in their designated place. Your pancakes will burn while you’re searching for the spatula, and you don’t want to accidentally find a knife. Don’t soak items with sharp blades in soapy water.
Have you had any kitchen accidents recently? Share in the comments!
Photo credit: Chris Denbow