Lessons “Learned” from the Kitchen Matriarchs
November 22, 2010 § 4 Comments
“Always remember to watch out for steam.”
“Steam is extremely hot, so always be careful around it.”
“Never look directly over a pot when you dump out the water.”
“Be mindful of where your skin is and where the steam is going.”
These are the words that reverberated through my head last night as two of my fingers on my right hand were scalded by a sudden and unexpected blast of steam.
Everything was going fine. I was making a new-to-us beef stroganoff recipe last night for dinner, and, surprisingly, I had made it all the way to the end of preparation without incident. The smells were mouth-watering, the sauce actually looked to be the correct consistency and color, and the noodles were as soft as you could possibly want them (without ruining them, of course). My timer started to beep, so I removed all items from their respective burners, and reset my timer for a couple more minutes to allow the sauce to set properly. During these couple of minutes, I silently celebrated a successful new meal. So often when preparing a new-to-me recipe, I bungle it in one major way or another and end up feeling defeated and frustrated. This time, though, I thought, I have actually succeeded! Good for me! When my timer for the sauce beeped again, I brought the noodles over to the sink to drain.
I had made my noodles in a specially-made pasta pot–one of those pots that has a draining lid so that you don’t have to wash a colander. Everything was going fine. The lid was secure, my face was away from the steam billowing forth, and I was very nearly done. When all of a sudden, a burst of steam issued from the right side. Directly on my fingers.
I probably had a moment when I could have thrown the pot down in the sink to stop from scalding myself. But I didn’t realize exactly what was happening…and I didn’t realize it would keep happening. I did ultimately throw the pot down in the sink, fortunately keeping the noodles safe inside, and immediately doused my fingers in cold running water. I also screeched an obscenity, although I’m not sure which one, and that caught Robert’s attention. Despite my insisting that I was fine, he came running into the kitchen anyway and offered help.
For the rest of the night, my hand rested under a bag of ice and water. When my skin burned from freezing, I removed the bag…only to experience yet again a burning sensation so strong that I could have sworn my fingers were in flames. Robert gave me a couple of pain pills (from when he received second-degree burns at work this summer), and soon I was able to pass out and sleep. I awoke this morning with some tenderness, but I won’t need any more medication or ice.
The worst part of this was the intense feeling of shame and humiliation. All those quotes that began this post? Those are the quotes from my family’s Kitchen Matriarchs–my grandmothers and my mom. They have all, at one time or another in my childhood, told me to watch out for steam. For a little over 29 years, I took heed of their warnings and avoided steam with a kind of caution that can only be described as paranoia. Last night? Last night, I got lazy. And I got burned.