This is my 100th post. I always knew I was this long-winded, but I didn’t know you had it in you to stick around this long. Thank you. For your diligence I reward you with a story that is now legend in our household lore.
It was October 2006 and raining and really too cold outside for grilling, but we’d made burgers for the grill. Karen’s mom was visiting so I wanted to “treat” her to my hamburgers. Well, we have an indoor grill, and let’s face it, cooking with a gas grill isn’t real BBQ anyway.
For those of you unfamiliar with our kitchen we had a Jenn-Air range that was about as old as I am. And Jenn-Air ranges come with an indoor grill insert and, well, let me show you what it looks like:
So your food sits on the grill grates (on the right), under that is the heating element, and under that is where those knobbly looking things go. They’re heavy and they have wire supports for the heating element. Apparently they do a good job of collecting grease too, but we’ll get to that. We’ve cooked steaks on the grill before with moderate success. It’s actually not a bad idea for when it’s raining. But we’d never cooked burgers on the grill before, and I figured it would be just like steaks. Oh, and another thing, this time I left the heat turned all the way up to high. And why not? Charcoal grills have no real heat control anyway, right? I’m not really sure what the instructions say to do in this instance, but real men don’t need instructions, right?
So I’m cooking burgers. I’m the man, I cook the burgers. They’re about three quarters done and I see this tiny flame peek out from underneath the heating element. Hmm. A little bit of grease, it should burn itself out soon, I think. It doesn’t. It starts growing. Apparently burgers have a lot of fat in them, but then I already knew that. I turn the heat off. The flame (at this point I should say flames) keep getting bigger, until they are reaching up and licking the bottom of the microwave.
“help” I say very sheepishly. From the dining room I hear Karen say “What now?”
“f- f- fire” I say sheepishly. Everyone comes in. Karen, Karen’s mom, Karen’s sister. At this point I’m thinking two things: Where are the boys? Ben is asleep in his swing, Isaac is asleep in bed, Jonny is in the bathtub. The other thing I’m thinking is Who the f— puts wallpaper behind a stove? Seriously, shouldn’t there be tile back there? The previous owners of this house did nothing right.
Wait, the stove is still on fire. I’m wishing at this point that we had a fire extinguisher. Karen put a pot lid on the grill, but the fire is under the grill so that doesn’t work. We don’t have enough baking soda. So we all wonder what to do. How much time until the wallpaper catches fire? I make an executive decision. Everything has to go. I grab my kitchen tongs and, starting from the top down, I take each piece individually outside to the back porch.
“WAIT!” says Karen, “Save the burgers!” I can see the headline now: Woman Rescues Burgers, Serves Them To Firemen While Her House Burns Down. Once the burgers are safe I take everything else outside in the cold and rain.
The burgers weren’t very good, but now we have a fire extinguisher in the kitchen.
Later that week the same exact thing happened to Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America. That’s why I like him so much. He’s so much like me. He put the fire out by emptying a box of kosher salt on it. Good to know.