When I was working at the mansion In Newport, Rhode Island doing living history, one of the positions that we could have on a given day was kitchen. Your job when you were on kitchen was to cook things of your choosing that smelled really nice all day and wait for a tour to come through to tell them about being a servant and about the really old gas stove. I knew how old it was then and all about the installation, but I forgot about that the day the contract ended.
I can’t cook. I am a hazard in the kitchen. Making tea is about as far as I go. But I was assigned to kitchen duty, so I had to try. I did not want to use the gas oven as gas ovens scare the pee out of me. So, I decided to make fried dough on the stovetop. Easy, right? I made up the batter and started frying away.
My fried dough was a hit! All the actors wanted some, and they actually ate it and didn’t die! Winning! The groups tramped through the kitchen, and I talked while I cooked, completely confident in my abilities. A particularly large group of school children came into the kitchen, and I poured more dough into my oil while talking about how lovely it was to have zinc table tops in the kitchen (they hold temperature) when suddenly ten inch flames shot out of my pan and into the air.
I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I had twenty children watching me, so crying seemed out of the question. I reached over, turned off the heat, and continued to stare at the flames, which by some miracle went down. I turned to my husband who was leading the group and said, “I have to open the windows,” before running for my life.
There was no permanent damage, and I didn’t get fired. But I have never again tried to fry anything. I did learn to make bread though. I make a mean rosemary loaf. Too bad I’m allergic to wheat…