Operating under the delusion that better tools will somehow make us better cooks and probably lead to our own show on the Food Network, my wife and I bought a professional-looking new stove with gas burners last week.
As any serious cook will tell you, a stove with gas burners has a number of advantages over a stove with electric burners. The most important advantage is that people who come to your house for dinner will be impressed when they see that you have a stove with gas burners, even if you serve them microwaved hot dogs.
The morning after our new stove is installed, I decide to inaugurate it with a breakfast of pancakes and sausage. I don’t actually like pancakes but, in addition to its four circular burners, the stove top has a rectangular griddle and it seems a shame not to use that for something.
I put the sausage links in a pan, cover the pan with an over-sized splatter screen and turn on the burner. Flames curl up around the pan, just like on those cooking shows we watch.
While the sausage links are browning, I mix the pancake batter. As I’m mixing the pancake batter, the curling flames reach the splatter screen, which starts smoking. I grab the splatter screen and toss it into the sink. If that ever happens again, I’d probably use a pot holder.
With the hand that isn’t starting to blister, I begin to ladle pancake batter onto the griddle. The ladling is interrupted by my wife inquiring, “Why is the griddle making a ticking noise?
“I have no idea.”
“Maybe we should read the instruction booklet.”
Taking time to read a booklet while something connected to a gas line ticks is not my first instinct. My first instinct is to run.
Besides, there is no instruction booklet. When I bought my electric toothbrush it came with a 24-page booklet — in three languages. But no instructions at all came with a device capable of blowing up my entire neighborhood.
I turn off the burner under the griddle.
A few seconds later, a second flame begins to curl around the sausage pan. This one is coming from the plastic end of the metal tongs that I have set on top of the stove next to the pan. By this time, the browning sausage is blackening, but I can’t remove them with the tongs because the tongs are on fire. So now I have a ticking griddle, burning sausage, flaming tongs and a blistering palm.
That evening we have microwaved hot dogs for dinner.