Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Catfish Flambé or How I Burned Down Mom's Kitchen

Addendum: Adding to the FTSF #10, where "I Tried to Cook...."


When last we saw our Crafty Cat, he was struggling against the valiant fisherman in our first episode of this story. If you so desire, please browse back to that post. This next episode will see ole Crafty slipping out of his skin and into something far more comfortable... the frying pan. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll likely vote on Thursday as this is my entry for another day in the life of yeahwrite.me.

Unlike other fish, the catfish has no scales, so "cleaning" a catfish is more about removing the skin which is quite tough and leathery. We don't want to chase off the readership with graphic descriptions and pictures, but if you have the tools to build a birdhouse, you can clean a catfish too.

After successfully removing his winter coat, the remainder of the process is about going all Queen of Hearts "off with his head" and removing all the inedible parts, ewwwww.

Now, at the tender young age of teenager, I can't say that I had a recipe for cooking anything, but I knew that everyone else had always talked about beer battered and deep fried catfish. With that in mind, I set forth to creating a side-dish-less masterpiece of culinary design. With my buddy Mike at my side we set to pouring beer in a dish and putting some flour in another dish and some oil about an inch deep in a pan on the stove. Clearly a well thought out recipe for success.

As I said, I was fairly green in the culinary arts, so I took my time preparing my prep and cooking areas. I knew I wanted some nice hot oil to deep fry the fish and set out to achieve that. I had filled a deep saucepan with about and inch or so of Wesson canola oil. I had it covered and the electric burner on medium. You're convinced now that Julia Child has taken over my blog, I know! I've got you snowed with my cooking acumen for sure.

Before I began to batter the filets, I decided to make final checks of all the cooking bases.

I've got beer, check!

I've got flour, with just a hint of oregano, because everything tastes better with a little bit of the Italian O...check!

I've got filets of catfish, check!

I've got a pan of oil warming on the stove, check!

I've got...Fire?

A check of my pan was my first hint that this day may have been getting a little out of hand. Apparently, boiling oil is not a good thing. Worse yet is when a covered pan of boiling oil is uncovered allowing oxygen to rush in to the pan and the small blue flame that has settled on the top of said oil. Like Kurt Russell discovered in Backdraft, a fire is only as good as the oxygen that is feeding it.

Wow, was I feeding it.


Crap! (*other words may have been used at the time and in the "heat" of the moment.

What do I do now? Stop, drop, and roll? No, that's if I am on fire. Fire Extinguisher, yeah...I don't know if we have one of those.

So I went all primal. Campfires... "Boy scout water" makes them bigger, but you always have a bucket of regular water on hand in case the fire gets out of hand.

Yeah. Water!

Fire.... Water.... And there is a sink conveniently within pivot distance from the stove....

Yeah... Water...

FIRE!
Why don't they teach you about grease fires in the boy scouts? You see there is some sort of molecular bonding that takes place as the fire is fed by the oil and the oxygen and when water is added to it, the water and the oil bond like Katy Perry and Russell Brand on Twitter, and then the fire evaporates the water forming this fiery, oily steam that is no longer trapped by gravity in the pan. I had given my fire wings!

Like the steam in the bathroom, this fiery steam clings to the ceiling and to the cabinets and to the poor hanging plants over the sink.

On. Fire.

So as the blink of an eye passed, my mom's kitchen had been engulfed in flames from the sink, the ceiling, the cabinets, the poor hanging plants, seemingly everything. At that point I did what any rational teenager would do after a split second of thought.

I abandoned ship. Still clutching the pan of flames, I ran through the dining area, the living room and out the front door. I pitched the pan onto the front lawn and made sure that Mike had followed me out.

Why I had taken a route through all the more lived areas and not out the back door or through the garage is a mystery. I'm sure it had a lot to do with doors I could manage with one hand while watching a burning pan of oil. Besides at that point, I was sure I had burned the house down and self-preservation was epically forefront in my mind.  Besides, the garage has cans of gas and stuff, I wasn't stupid!

In a stroke of pure luck, the fire burned as long as there was oil coating the cabinets, ceiling and house plants. By the time I had made the front door, the fire in the kitchen was burning itself out. Though singed and charred a nice black color, the kitchen had survived the onslaught.

The houseplants not so much.

I survived telling my mom.

I never did eat the filets from that catfish.

The reminder burn mark in the lawn lasted almost a year.



As an aside, the following simple solutions were offered as better resolutions to the fire, other than the obvious "don't put water on a grease fire" (thanks to all that weighed in with that one, especially those who felt the need to add "everyone knows that you..." on the front.)

1. Cover the pan again and remove it from the heat.

2. Put baking soda on it. (what? are we making cupcakes?)

3. ALWAYS have a working fire extinguisher on hand.

4. Optionally, don't let teenage boys cook without supervision.

This has been a public service message.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me




Once again hitting up the YeahWrite since my presence seems to annoy them... I want to win... I think I can win... I love the writing there.



77 comments:

  1. That sounds like a blast (get it?) I hope that "going all queen of hearts on it" catches on, that's a good one. I'll do my best to spread it.

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  2. Thanks Michael! Not sure I get a C in a Circle on that due to it being epic literature and all, but I'll take the "going all" part of it.... I feel a zazzle mug coming on...

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  3. Wow - very l;ucky that the fire just magically went out!!

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  4. You've firmly convinced me to enclose my kitchen and put in a locking door when my boy is old enough to figure out how to turn on the burners. Geez, were you ever lucky it didn't get any worse than that!

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  5. LOL. Omg I don't know what I would do if my teenager did that. I think I will teach them how to put out all sorts of fires at an early age - as well as keeping a fire extinguisher handy!

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  6. LOL. Omg I don't know what I would do if my teenager did that. I think I will teach them how to put out all sorts of fires at an early age - as well as keeping a fire extinguisher handy!

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  7. Oh my word! I'm giggling at the residual burn mark on the lawn. I'm sure your mom was just happy that you were okay!

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  8. Oh my word! I'm giggling at the residual burn mark on the lawn. I'm sure your mom was just happy that you were okay!

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  9. I'm sorry but after the relief that it wasn't any worse than it got, YOU ARE HILARIOUS. I think you're writing is awesome.....still giggling. I've had similar experiences and had to learn also that throwing flour or baking soda on it (that's if you can keep from freaking out first, lol) was the best solution after all. I won't even tell you in my early cooking years how I tried to put flames out....still giggling, haha.

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  10. Oh and I sure hope your mom got a new kitchen out of that one, haha

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  11. Yiikes! Glad you didn't burn down the ENTIRE house!

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  12. She did, but it was already planned.

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  13. She was happy that I was ok. But once that brief happiness settled in, she was not pleased about the kitchen.

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  14. I'm the Titanic, a cautionary tale for all who come after...

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  15. Yeah teaching them is important.

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  16. Option 4 all the way! Though I suspect *squinty eyed look* that you may have started the cooking process without parental knowledge anyway. Am I right? lol great story!!

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  17. good grief! I have your new header/title graphic in the works. I really do! We're in the midst of a sudden need to move and doing a bunch of packing. Been a bit distracted but WILL get it done this week. I promise <3

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  18. I'm certainly not pressed in the slightest.

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  19. *squinty eyed look*??? Is that the Mom Stink Eye you're giving me? I can neither confirm nor deny parental knowledge of said cooking experience prior to said arsonistic behaviors...

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  20. I once started a kitchen fire. It wasn't catfish. It was tacos. I can't even tell you how it happened, but luckily, I put it out before it got to out of hand. The ceiling suffered a bit, but no more. I threw flour on it. Usually, I stay away from flour because I am allergic, but that day, it saved my life.

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  21. Oooh scary stuff. When I was a child, I was standing in the kitchen when our pressure cooker exploded took out a huge chunk of the ceiling. To this day I will not cook with a pressure cooker.

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  22. Explaining that one must have been a lot of fun. So far (knock on wood) this is one thing my boys haven't done.

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  23. Lori @The Lyons DinMay 16, 2012 at 11:21 AM

    I'm glad the kitchen and YOU survived -- both the fire and your mother. See, this is just another good reason to live in Louisiana. I can get fried catfish just about anywhere, anytime with no blood, guts, scales or fire.

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  24. "After successfully removing his winter coat, the remainder of the process is about going all Queen of Hearts "off with his head" and removing all the inedible parts, ewwwww." You make cleaning cafish sound like so much fun.
    As I was reading this, I was thinking, "Wow! i have no idea how to put a grease fire out. I know you don't use water but I don't know what you do use." So I definitely benefitted from the public service announcement and "fire extinguisher" has been added to the list for my next Home Depot run!

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  25. treadingwaterinthekiddiepoolMay 16, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    "After successfully removing his winter coat, the remainder of the process is about going all Queen of Hearts "off with his head" and removing all the inedible parts, ewwwww." You make cleaning cafish sound like so much fun.
    As I was reading this, I was thinking, "Wow! i have no idea how to put a grease fire out. I know you don't use water but I don't know what you do use." So I definitely benefitted from the public service announcement and "fire extinguisher" has been added to the list for my next Home Depot run!

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  26. treadingwaterinthekiddiepoolMay 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    "After successfully removing his winter coat, the remainder of the process is about going all Queen of Hearts "off with his head" and removing all the inedible parts, ewwwww." You make cleaning cafish sound like so much fun.
    As I was reading this, I was thinking, "Wow! i have no idea how to put a grease fire out. I know you don't use water but I don't know what you do use." So I definitely benefitted from the public service announcement and "fire extinguisher" has been added to the list for my next Home Depot run!

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  27. treadingwaterinthekiddiepoolMay 16, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    "After successfully removing his winter coat, the remainder of the process is about going all Queen of Hearts "off with his head" and removing all the inedible parts, ewwwww." You make cleaning cafish sound like so much fun.
    As I was reading this, I was thinking, "Wow! i have no idea how to put a grease fire out. I know you don't use water but I don't know what you do use." So I definitely benefitted from the public service announcement and "fire extinguisher" has been added to the list for my next Home Depot run!

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  28. Recently, my stove caught fire because some grease fell inside of it and the heat I used to boil my pasta water ignited it. It was scary.

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  29. My sister accidentally-on-purpose burned down an entire house because she didn't like the kitchen and so the stove kind of accidentally kind of caught fire and it took her a while to get to the phone...!

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  30. Omg that's terrifying and yet hilarious. I will make sure that all my children know how to put out a wide variety of fires...just in case! Maybe having a fire extinguisher on hand would be a good idea too!

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  31. I've had Arkansas catfish and it appears it is as plentiful there as Louisiana. I have never tried to make it again.

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  32. I'm glad I was able to help. I further suggested not allowing teenage boys to cook...

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  33. I can imagine. the sight and sound of that sudden flame-up is quite frightening.

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  34. That's probably not something she'd want you admitting, LOL.

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  35. And make sure to get one that you can have serviced. Fire Extinguishers aren't good forever...

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  36. You are fortunate. Most boys don't have a desire to cook, so fires aren't often indoors...

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  37.  I don't do much cooking (then or now) with a pressure cooker.  Didn't realize they could explode!  I have seen many a turkey deep frier boil over and send up flames that lit trees and decks... not fun.

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  38.  An allergy to flour, that isn't something you hear every day.  Fortunately you had it on hand.

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  39. As I'm sitting here reading I just kept thinking, "Please don't let him throw water on that!"  But then you did.  That must have been terrifying!!  Great story!

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  40. This was bloody funny, I could just picture a couple of teenage boys setting fire to the kitchen somethings are not as easy to do/cook as we think in our heads it all goes well simple but then we try to do it and what the hell nothing goes right and all we end up with is a burnt kitchen and black uncooked food.............lol

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  41. Went through the gamut on this one: hunger at the description of the cooking catfish, terror at the fire which I was sure was going to burn the entire house down, and then laughter at the PSA at the end. 

    Great post! 

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  42. I turn my back for five minutes and you are burning shit down.

    I was knew what was coming, I was reading, I was laughing, I was singing "Burning down the house" by Tom Jones.

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  43. Thanks for the tips! But what if I have to reach over the fire to get the baking soda?  I like your idea of running through the house with the pan.  Opening the door would be tricky though.  

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  44. It's all fun and games until someone burns down the kitchen...

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  45. Glad you liked it.

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  46. Quite terrifying! I can look back and laugh now.

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  47. SisterhoodofthesensiblemomsMay 16, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    Awesome! Love the tips and the pics! great piece. Erin

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  48. I stopped cooking when I burned down an apartment complex that way.  Only it was chicken and way too much grease in the pot. People thought I was crazy for throwing water on it.  Glad to know I'm not the only one!

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  49. Thanks Erin... I must say it is disconcerting when both SensibleMoms answer and I get that deja vu moment thinking I already answered you... lol.

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  50. Ah, so you heard the "everyone knows that you..." line.

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  51. How long did it take your mom to calm down and actually listen to the story?

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  52. Haaaahhaahahaha :)  Uh, glad you were ok and didn't burn the house down...I'm no prize in the kitchen either and it is seriously tempting to throw water on a fire even though *everyone knows*...

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  53. They were away... She was calm-ish on the phone, my guess is difficult not to race back.

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  54. Yeah..."everyone"

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  55. lol ... at least it was interesting :)

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  56. OMG. I have to say, my first thought was that you can find a picture for anything on Google. Second, you sure got lessons in chemistry that day. Third, WTH was your mom's actual reaction? I'm impressed you are here to tell the tale. Ellen

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  57. That picture freaks me out. :) Great post! 

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  58. Deja vu... Ask the other "sister"

    Yes, yes, and I honestly don't remember. Part panic, part happiness that I wasn't hurt, part relief that I didn't burn down the house.

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  59. I am wishing I had a picture of your mom at this moment! And I loved this "
    but if you have the tools to build a birdhouse, you can clean a catfish too. " 
    Funny!

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  60. I hope your mom beat you within an inch of your life then wrote about you on her blog or whatever women had back then:) I absolutely loved this post--you told the story BEAUTIFULLY! What a great writer!

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  61. Thanks Jenn. I don't recall a beating, but I may have blocked it out. Next week's post is just about ready and it was very hard to write.

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  62. Yeah, and that wasn't great fiction, the tools are the same.

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  63. Thanks Julia. The picture took me back.

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  64. You put baking soda on a grease fire because it soaks up the oil and then the fire doesn't have anything to feed off of.  But never use baking powder, because it will react like gunpowder. Thank you, high school cooking class.

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  65. Good to know about the baking soda...

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  66. Yup, this is one I totally did with covering a pan of heated oil and fining out the hard way what happens. I lucky had my husband who had better ideas and we matched not to spread the fire and put it out, because of him. Thanks for sharing and for linking up with us again!! :)

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  67. Chris HyeThymeCafeMarch 8, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Glad to hear you survived this incident. I would have survived the fire, but my parents would have killed me later! Reminds me of some friends who rented a cottage down the street from me on Cape Cod one summer. One of the guys was making soup of all things and somehow ignited grease on the stove. It blew up the back of the stove to the wall and then the ceiling. He stood there dumbfounded, but one of the other guys yanked the stove away from the wall and unplugged it. Not my first choice, but he then managed to put it out. So, do you think of this every time you eat catfish now?? :( [#FTSF]

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  68. OMG, Great post! I can't believe that! I once had flames from a pan of oil shoot straight up to the ceiling, but that was as far as it got. Scared the living crap out of me. And I was like 32-ish when that happened. LOL! I love this post.

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  69. WOW, that's crazy. You're so lucky that 1. the fire burned itself out and 2. that you survived telling your poor mother. And you should totally write the boy scouts and tell them about covering grease fires. Such a valid point. :)

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  70. Joan Veronica RobertsonMarch 9, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    Hi, this was a fun read! It goes to prove I have been right all the years of my long life: I don't cook, period. I would probably have burnt down myown home and all the neighbors' too! Hope to see you soon and read more adventures!

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  71. Stephanie SprengerMarch 9, 2013 at 10:38 PM

    This was such a great story! Also nice integration of the word "acumen". Well played. I was riveted, and laughing, by the end. And thanks for the safety tip. Do they honestly not teach that in Boy Scouts? What a waste... Thanks for linking up with us again this week- glad to see you back!

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