It wasn’t a big fire, it wasn’t even a dramatic fire – well I guess depending on your definition of dramatic (B may dispute this but the couple when I lived at home involving a tea towel above the grill catching light and a pan with a bit of oil in were more dramatic as far as I’m concerned) but it was definitely a fire.
Last Saturday, even though I was a tad tired, I rashly said to B that if he liked I’d make pancakes for breakfast on Sunday. Needless to say he was quite enthusiastic and pointed out that it had been quite a while since I’d made them. To be honest since Christmas B has done the vast majority of the cooking and has got very good at doing steaks – beef or lamb. I just take over as head chef if it involves anything that couldn’t be defined as a steak – apart from frozen scampi.
So Sunday I made pancakes. Now I can’t say that I started this task with tons of enthusiasm and I also can’t say that the meal we had them for was breakfast although it was our first meal of the day. I only entered the kitchen, in my jim jams straight from bed well maybe not straight I’d probably used the bathroom first, at 12.03! I know, what a slob! It is the longest lie in I’ve had in years and years.
So before I could change my mind I set to and mixed the pancake batter in a half asleep manner but let’s face it it’s not sending a rocket to the moon – or curing myeloma so although I couldn’t remember the exact quantity I usually make (was it one and a half cups of flour or two) it’s not like anyone’s life depended on it.
I’d shouted upstairs to see if B wanted a milky coffee and when he said he did I’d popped the milk in the pan and set it on the gas hob while the pancake pan was warming up. I invested, not much, in an actual pancake pan. It’s very flat with a tiny lip round the edge and means that even the first pancake is perfect but the surface is now a bit iffy so I give it a light coating of light olive oil. In my half asleep state I’d been a bit exuberant with the oil so there was quite a bit heating up. B then arrived in the kitchen and pointed out that the milk for his coffee wasn’t on. Now I don’t deal well with mither within two hours of waking up at the best of times and I was really groggy so I believe I may have muttered something about it usually being ready with his pancakes while noticing that the oil on the pancake pan was borderline smoking. Now I could have removed the pan from the flame but that would have been too easy obviously and would have slowed the process down – even though I knew I wasn’t going to break any records that day. On a good day I can go from eggs, flour and milk to sitting down to pancakes, milky coffee and orange juice in twenty minutes. What? Doesn’t everyone time themselves doing stuff? Huh? I think it may have to do with B always asking how long stuff takes to make and getting a bit antsy if I say half an hour and it turns out to take three. That said, when we did a weekly shop I used to time myself putting it away (three minutes) oh, and when I changed the bed sheets/duvet cover (five minutes).
Right, I think that’s all I timed. The first because putting the groceries away was really boring and the second to make a point after the m-i-l had told me I was ‘a cheeky bugger’. I know I was shocked too I mean it’s not like I asked for it…
m-i-l: ‘We’ve been really busy today.’ It was a number of years ago and my father in law was still alive plus I was still capable of changing the bed without my back kicking off – B does it now and no, I’ve never timed him.
me: ‘Have you.’ No, I don’t need a question mark as I wasn’t really asking at this point.
m-i-l: ‘Oh yes!’
Now I wouldn’t have usually asked but since she was always saying she was busy and considering my Auntie En is a year older and at the time looked after her husband, cooked a homemade tea every night (as opposed to anything out of a tin) and made up lunch for one of her sons who’d moved back home along with knitting, sewing, crocheting blankets for charity and going to tailoring or upholstery classes at the local college I did sometimes wonder what the m-i-l’s definition of busy was and curiosity got the better of me on this occasion.
me: ‘What did you do?’
m-i-l: ‘We stripped the bed and put the sheets in the wash, then put them on the line and then when they were dry re-made the bed.’
me: ‘So that took you ten minutes. What did you do after that?’
m-i-l: ‘You cheeky bugger.’
Where was I? Oh yes – the fire. So the pan was smoking and I couldn’t be bothered to do the sensible thing and take it off the flame… I plucked a few pieces of paper kitchen towel out of the cupboard and whipped them swiftly over the pan to remove the excess so that I could pop some batter on the pan but where should I put the now oily towels. Oh yes, it’s all too easy to say from the other side of your computer screens that the bin may have been a good idea but B was in the way and I needed to get batter on the pan ASAP. I couldn’t put them on the worktop as I believe I may have mentioned they were oily and that would have involved more cleaning up so it made perfect sense, at the time not so much now I have to admit, to pop them on the gas burner behind the one with the pancake pan and next to the one with the milk pan. I then proceeded to switch on the flame under the milk pan – except, as you may have guessed, I switched on the one under the oily paper towels by mistake.
Now I think I may have mentioned in the past that I’m your gal for an emergency but B isn’t your guy. However on this particular occasion he did in fact deal with it exceptionally well, which was good as I was even calmer than usual – to the point of it possibly looking like catatonic inaction. I watched as the paper towel burst (which I think describes it pretty accurately) into flames and worked itself up into a quite a flame, at least twelve inches high even after I’d switched off that burner. I could feel B hovering behind me waiting for me to do something but hey, I figured this was the reason that extractor hoods and wall cupboards have to be a certain distance from hobs. So although I did think that it was probably quite rational to try and put out the flames since it seemed highly unlikely they would set fire to or even singe anything else surely the easiest thing all round was just to let them burn themselves out. B however didn’t feel the same and started muttering things about damp tea towels so I figured ‘What the heck it might make him feel better’ and let him run one under the tap. Now I did notice that the towel ended up more ‘wet’ than ‘damp’ and so took over and extinguished the flames.
All we lost was one pancake and not even as a direct result. B suggested it might be a good idea to remove the tea towel from the hob, because he’s practical like that, and as I lifted it up a little piece of incinerated paper towel fluttered down onto the uncooked side of the pancake. I believe the look I gave B implying that this loss was his fault was a step too far. He didn’t say as much I just guessed from the way he snatched open the kitchen door and stormed off with the soggy singed tea towel into the garage.
I gave him a hug when he came back in because it must have been a bit of a shock – after all it was his first kitchen fire and my third.
An lookie ‘ere, I finished the little aran cardy, hat and mittens…