Monday, January 23, 2012

a happy (kitchen) accident

The words, "kitchen" and "accident" and "happy" don't usually go together, do they? Let me tell you a little story. Many years ago, I was a working college student, making my way in the world and very proud of being able to rent my own teeny, tiny, very little studio apartment, which also came with my very own teeny, tiny, little kitchen. Being the big girl that I now saw myself to be, I decided I should learn to cook in that kitchen - a skill I literally had no clue about, but was very intrigued by. One of my bright-eyed ideas was to have my boyfriend over for sopapillas.

I found a little bag of premade sopapilla mix at the grocery store that had specific directions on exactly how to turn this sack of flour into those golden, delicious, fried triangles of dough! What a brilliant idea! It was foolproof. Perfect for a beginner like me.

Step One:  Heat oil in a deep skillet. Oil must be VERY hot.
Step Two:  Mix contents of bag with one cup of water. Roll out dough and cut into triangles.
Step Three: Fry triangles for 5 minutes until golden brown

Great! Yes, I could do this, no problem. So I proceeded, following the directions VERY carefully and VERY literally. When it was time to place the dough triangles into the oil, I was concerned it didn't look hot enough. I mean, the directions said it must be VERY hot (Yes, VERY was in all-caps, I remember it clear as day). So, I thought it would be wise to put a lid on the pan for a couple minutes just to make sure that the oil was indeed hot enough.

(So far, my story sounds very sweet and cute doesn't it? That's good, because what I'm about to tell you is very not sweet and not cute).

Fast forward two minutes.

Boyfriend rings the bell. Come in! I'm just about to have my big moment frying the delicious sopapillas that look like I made them from scratch. Oh, he will be so impressed. 

La-de-da, I go to open the lid to the pan, certain my oil must be hot enough by now. It was hot, alright.

So hot, that, OH MY GOSH IT'S ON FIRE!!! Flames shoot up from the pot all the way to the ceiling and I feel I may have lost an eyebrow. Smoke alarm goes off. I hear neighbors above me running down the stairs to save themselves. Boyfriend attempts to come to my rescue and save the day. Unfortunately, he also knows nothing about cooking, so grabs a large cup of water to throw onto the fire. "Noooooooo," I mouth in slow motion as he runs toward the pan, because if I knew nothing else, I did know this: Absolutely, positively, no water on a grease fire.

Does this qualify as a grease fire, I wonder? No time for that, where's the salt?! Water hits fire. Flames shoot higher. I start flinging salt as fast as possible from my little salt shaker onto the fire. Boyfriend again comes to the rescue, pushing me aside, grabbing the pot's handle and flinging it upside down into the nearby sink, thereby miraculously extinguishing the fire.   

Okay, then. Pizza delivery?

Do you know what my boyfriend brought me the next time he came over? (Yes, he actually did come back. I know you were wondering...) My very own teeny, tiny, little kitchen fire extinguisher. And would you also be surprised to learn that my then boyfriend turned out to be my now husband. A very happy accident indeed.

All that to tell you about today's kitchen accident, which is not nearly as dramatic, but also has a happy ending. I turned the days-ago leftover carcass from this roast chicken:

Into today's most-delicious-I've-ever-made chicken stock:

This isn't an uncommon thing to do, so what is so special about it? I forgot that I had decided to brush that chicken all over with the last jar of my homemade bar-b-que sauce before I took it out of the oven. So, the remaining carcass and drippings I put into the stock also had quite a bit of the flavor from the sauce. And this turned out to be very, very good! It's a rich and slightly smoky (oh, the irony!!), fully-flavored stock. Another happy accident at an altogether different time and in an altogether different kitchen (no fire extinguisher needed).


  1. Such a cute story! I will try your little "accident", I am always using chickens to make broth with and can use a new twist!

  2. I'm laughing because I also had a kitchen accident a couple of days ago. Your soup looks delicious. Surprises keep life interesting...

  3. I had just such an apartment...with a kitchen so small you had to duck your head to get in the door. Once we came home from the bar and I burned my hand trying to make corn bread while inebriated. Ah, the things we do for love. I didn't marry that guy. Your stock looks wonderful!

  4. What a great story!!
    BBQ chicken stock sounds wonderful! I love happy kitchen accidents!

  5. That is hilarious. You must have known he was The One when he brought you the fire extinguisher!

  6. Who would have thought that a fire extinguisher would be a romantic present? Cute story!

  7. That's Awesome! I set one of my kitchen towels on fire in October. I had it on a bowl of bread dough rising on the stove. Turned on the wrong burner to boil water. Ooops. I got lots of kitchen towels for Christmas!

  8. That soup sounds yummy! I think I did that happy accident once too (the soup), unfortunately, my son didn't like BBQ flavor! Your college accident sounds like my own, but I was 13. My mother had entrusted me to cook the meals for a whole month, since she was heavily pregnant with my twin brothers. I was heating a deep pot with a little oil, I don't recall what I was making... I was turned around facing the kitchen sink peeling a carrot or something and I see orange flickers of light, reflecting on the wall in front of me. I turned around and lo and behold! The pot was on fire! I screamed and my Dad came running from his bedroom and quickly took the pot and turned it upside down in the sink and the fire was put out. Whew! I was afraid to cook for a little while after that.

    1. Oh goodness! I was afraid for awhile too. In fact, I don't think I've ever attempted sopapillas again. Maybe this year I'll be brave enough ;)

  9. GREAT story! That broth looks absolutely fantastic - hope you are all feeling better now :)

    1. We are! Thank you :) Hope your family is healthy as well.

  10. Oh, my gosh. The best soup I EVER had was a barbecue chicken soup at a restaurant in Cold Spring, NY. The name escapes me, but I bet your soup tastes awesome!

    That was a fun, slightly scary story (we knew it turned out okay because you lived to tell the tale!). Nice that the story belongs to both of you!

    Have a happy day, Jaime. You made me smile!

  11. That is such a great tale of romance and cooking disaster. Thanks for sharing it with us. Your husband certainly seems like a keeper!

  12. So glad to hear I'm not the only one who has set things on fire in the kitchen!


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