Thoughts from a 20-something stumbling through adulthood

Don’t be too hard on yourself (or, that time I set my oven on fire)

If you know me at all, you know my cooking history is peppered with mishaps.

There was the time I tried to make chicken pasta and ended up getting second degree burns on my boob area…

There was the time I put frozen chicken in the microwave, took a shower (TOOK A SHOWER) and could smell the chicken burning from the basement even while covered in perfumed suds.

And finally, the time I had to call 911 because I set my oven on fire.


The good news is it happened on the 4th of July, so it’s not like the firefighters were busy with fireworks OR ANYTHING LIKE THAT.

Let’s rewind.

Morgan and I spent the weekend with his parents in his hometown, basically sitting around, eating good food, drinking beer and shooting off fireworks. So when I got home, I decided to attempt something productive.

Cue me googling “homemade chicken noodle soup” and committing to chopping up about 256 vegetables to go in the damn thing. Except I never got that far, because chicken.

Years ago, my mom bought me this book called “How to Cook Everything: The Basics” that really does teach you how to cook everything. It starts with boiling water (which I appreciate) and ends with super simple, impossible-to-mess-up (I thought) recipes.

The only problem is that the book only lists two ways to cook chicken breasts: Grilling and broiling. I don’t have a grill, so broiling it was.

This is the part of the horror movie where you’re saying, “But there are so many other ways to make chicken! Haven’t you heard of the internet? Don’t open that basement door!”

And believe me, this all makes sense in hindsight. But the book promises how to cook everything, and who am I to argue with a BOOK?

The recipe wants you to put some oil on the chicken breasts, but not in the pan. This is a crucial detail that will result in disaster shortly.

So I set the oven to “broil,” put my oil and chicken breasts on a cookie sheet, slide them onto the top rack and set a timer for three minutes.

Spoiler alert: By the time the timer goes off, I am on the phone with 911.

Here’s what I know now that I did not know three months ago: Broiling = 500 DEGREES. Onto a pan filled with CHICKEN AND OIL.

The aftermath: Definitely charred, but nothing I have to call my landlord about, thank GOD.

I think you know what happens next, but here’s the Cliff Notes version.

Oven starts smoking. “Hmm, that doesn’t seem good.” Turn down oven. Oven continues to smoke badly. Turn oven off. Smoke continues pouring out of oven door. Peek inside oven. EVERYTHING IS AFLAME. “Oh shit oh shit oh shit.” Try to locate fire extinguisher. Can’t find it. Check under sink again. There it is. Stand in front of oven with fire extinguisher at the ready. Remember what dad said about fire extinguishers being REALLY hard to clean up. Realize what you have to do. Pick up the phone and dial 911 (but first, hide your glass of wine so they don’t judge you). Evacuate. Try not to cry.

Five minutes later, two fire trucks show up, LIGHTS AND SIRENS BLAZING. Dudes climb out in full gear (tanks on backs, visors down, the whole nine yards) while your neighbors wander outside trying to determine whether their livelihoods are at risk.

Head firefighter approaches you with legitimate golden locks and baby blue eyes. Briefly think, SERIOUSLY? before remembering your apartment might be on fire. He asks if you have pets. You do not. (And if you did, don’t you think they’d be outside, sir?)

Firefighters spend 12 seconds in your apartment before emerging and announcing “it’s okay boys, fire’s out.”

Next door neighbor asks hot firefighter if everything is okay. Hot firefighter gestures to you and says: “Oh, we used to date. She does this all the time!” OMG DEAD. DYING. THIS IS THE END.

Make a statement that basically says “no cook very good” while the firefighters-in-training air out your apartment with giant fans. Realize you have a bra laying on the arm of your couch but that’s actually the least embarrassing thing about this situation.

Firefighters leave. Chicken is actually salvageable and kind of smoked and delicious. Eat it like a piece of pizza while you wait for your parents and boyfriend to show up. Get mozzarella sticks from Sonic. Text your friends.

Sweet boyfriend helping me de-ash everything. (Note the fire extinguisher in the background.)

A few weeks later, this shows up right next to your apartment door and you know it cannot be a coincidence.

Alright, WHO SNITCHED TO DANIELLE IN THE LEASING OFFICE. Was it you, Donna? I thought we were close!

And finally, LAUGH. Because OMG, you called 911 on the 4th of July, a hot firefighter showed up, and all because you were trying to do something sophisticated like make soup from scratch.
(In case you’re wondering, I did end up making the chicken noodle soup, and it was delicious. Not worth frying my oven, but delicious nonetheless.)

All the color hides the destruction that went into making this soup.

Have you had any mishaps when you were trying to do grown-up things? I would love to hear about your biggest “oops” moments, and how you managed to laugh them off!

In the meantime, I’ll be cooking my chicken low and slow. (But probably not in the oven, because it still smells a little ashy.)

Happy Tuesday!