Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Which I Almost Burn Down The House

I almost called this "In Which I Reveal My Inherent Idiocy" but then I remembered that I've already got a post with that title...

It was the Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend; wherein we celebrate, much as Americans do (but we do it earlier), with family and friends and many of us roast Very Large Items like turkeys or geese, and create many a side dish of potatoes or yams (no marshmallows please, I don't care what Nigella says about this) and other roastable products (maple-roasted parsnips anyone?).

So, this being our first house and all, we're having fun creating our own family traditions around all the holidays. This Thanksgiving the kids covered the front steps with mini gourds, white pumpkins, and giant Cinderella pumpkins, grown in the garden; they dipped leaves in beeswax, fragrant additions to the Seasonal Table; they made candle holders with colourful writhing dragons on them, surrounded with black paper, to remind us all of Michaelmas (which is often re-represented by St George fighting the dragon); and finally they brought in armloads of Michaelmas daisies and all the leftover flowers we have in the garden to float in bowls of coloured water with lighted candles. It was all very beautiful. Ethereal. Glowing. Warm. We invited some friends over, we set a turkey in the oven, I made bread and dug up potatoes and peeled many a parsnip.

It was the Yorkshire puddings that foxed me. If only I had put a cookie sheet under the muffin tins I would have been okay. The fire alarm wouldn't have gone off if I'd done that.

But I didn't.

Oh no.

I had to go and douse the muffin tins with generous amounts of oil, then set them in an already (sheila coughs self-consciously) oily oven and no it WASN'T filthy contrary to what Richard the Clean says, without anything underneath them to catch all the dripping oil. And let's face it, I was feeling pretty generous by this juncture of the day, filled with much bonhomie towards my friends and neighbours (and no, I was not drinking - not then at any rate) and it might have been about then that I thought "A giant Yorkshire pudding is much much better than a teeny tiny one, isn't it! I will FILL those muffin cups with batter! They will be giant puddingy puffs!" Sounded reasonable at the time...

So I used what one might call a glad hand with the filling of the muffin cups. All two and a half dozen of them.

Sadly, the oil oozed out all over the floor of the oven after I'd filled them with the pudding batter and slid them in the oven to bake. Not that I noticed, because at that point that I was standing outside on the deck, thinking "Gosh it's hot in that pokey little kitchen, think I'll just have a glass of wine out here in the nice cold air."

It was when I peeked in the window that I noticed the flames.

I dashed in, followed closely by Max (when Large Items are roasted he follows me very closely, because he likes Large Roasted Items and frequently accuses me of trying to starve him by not roasting them often enough for his liking). I gaped. I tried to quell the rising panic in my stomach. I opened the oven for a peek, then shut it. It was filled with flames. Really filled. I don't think I'd ever seen it like that. And it might have been then that I thought "OMG this is a PROPANE OVEN - we're all going to blow up!" (yes, I'm afraid I do tend to the histrionic). But, being the stalwart Jane Austen heroine that I am, I did not shriek out loud, I'll have you know. I did not even panic. And I did not faint into a heap on the floor. Nope, instead, I calmly turned off the oven, and shrieked "RICHARD..!"

Now, accounts vary as to what I said after that. I thought I said "Richard the oven is on fire and we are all about to die come and do something before that happens" Richard thought I said "I've put the fire out but it's still on fire!" And, since he didn't do anything right away, we both think I then said "RICHARD GET IN HERE RIGHT THIS SECOND THE KITCHEN IS ON FIRE!"

And we might be right. I think I did say that.

Fortunately that got him into the kitchen pretty quick. In fact, it got everyone into the kitchen. I remember wondering why everyone would come into a place that was about to blow up at any moment. And realizing that I couldn't very well cut and run with all them standing there, about to blow up with MY stove. And fortunately Richard took matters in hand and started doing something: "Get the Yorkshire puddings out of the oven! Shut the oven door! Quick!"

So we did.

And the fire went out.

And Richard said "Why don't you ever clean that stupid oven? Look at all that oil!"

And our dinner guests said "Wow, it's exciting over here."

And I said "I need a drink. Stop talking about cleaning the bloody oven, Richard, and get me a drink."

And Max said "Will the Yorkshire puddings be alright? Will we still be able to eat them?"

And you know, they were. And we did.


Andrea said...

Oh Sheila! I can barely type for laughing so hard! How do you make such disasters so hilarious!

Rebecca said...

Look how adorable you are! Setting your oven on fire during a major holiday. Cute.

I do hope Richard had the foresight to don a flowing white shirt before he gallantly came to your rescue.

sheila said...

Andrea, how? I think I drink to blot out the trauma. Then everything seems amusing.

Rebecca, I'm afraid was NOT in a flowing white shirt. He was too busy being irritated with me to be gallant, darn him. I will tell him that you think I was cute, though. Invite me over - I can ruin almost any holiday with my cooking habits!

Cerwydwyn said...

Great ending.

Heather said...

Shelia, how can you say that you "can ruin almost any holiday" with your cooking? It sounds to me as those your lucky guests were Not Only very well fed but also extremely well entertained. What more could they possibly ask for?

Imagine how boring it will be for them to go to anyone else's house for holiday dinners now. They would likely only get a good meal at most - no fire, no shrieking (fantastic) cook, no big daring rescue, no thrill of a narrow escape...no excitement at all, I say. Really, you've likely ruined them for dinner anywhere else.

Did I mention that I love yorkshire puddings...even if slightly well done-ish.

Anonymous said...

Oh Sheila, only you! I used to love it when my mum made Yorkshire puddings. I don't think our kitchen was ever on fire though :)

Samantha said...

Oh my gosh, Sheila!! What a most interesting Thanksgiving you had!! Your children will have some wonderful memories they can share with their children - "Remember the Thanksgiving when mom caught the oven on fire?" :-)

Hey, maybe Richard should throw on a flowing white shirt and gallantly clean out the stove for you. Sorry, I've got the image Rebecca painted stuck in my mind.

sheila said...

Cerwydwyn, thank you so much. Max is nothing if not to the point: where's the food? And more important: is it edible? Who cares if we're about to die?

Okay, Heather, you've got yourself a standing dinner invite, you do realize this. You are WAY too nice to me. I wish you were my neighbour: you could put a positive spin on every weird thing I do.

Nicola, you can come over any time, too: I'll make you one of my Nigella Special Yorkshire puddings (her recipe is lovely). I'll try not to set the oven alight though.

Samantha: that darn Richard! All he can say is that I am horrible to my oven, that I drench it with cooking residues, and that I never clean it. Ach, what's new. He needs a slave, as Max says, because I am terrible at the House Chores. But, and yes, I do need to mention this, on Monday we put on the self-clean function (first oven I've had that does this) AND he wore a black high-neck sweater thingie and he looked pretty hot. My day was COMPLETE.

Vivian said...

Oh, I should've waited to read this in the morning, Sheila. Do you know how hard it is to laugh without waking up the entire family?

I'm glad you weren't hurt, your house and family safe and you all had a lovely Thanksgiving.

Kez said...

lol! Glad it all turned ok though!

Suji said...

Why won't you write a book? Can I come over there and make you write one? ;) And while I'm there may I have a helping of your cooking? LOL. Godh I wish I could cook AND homeschool AND write the way you do.

Becky said...

I am SO looking forward to reading about your Christmas : ).

(Though am rather concerned if you plan to flambé the pudding...)