Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Burnin' Down the House. A Lesson in Smoke Detection.

DH and I have decided to make a true effort to eat healthier foods.  Shocking, isn't it?  The fabulous ladies over at Better Mom post Bi-weekly meal plans using whole foods and organic foods that are reasonably simple to create at home.  We don't have the budget for an entire organic switch, but the recipes themselves are helping us make a good change.

Happily stepping into my home last night, I was looking forward to trying the recipe for Lemon-Garlic Roasted Chicken.  The ingredients were on hand and preparation was easy and quick.  I set my gas oven to 450 degrees, popped in the pan and went to dance around the living room with the boys.  We were having a wonderful time dancing with our friends in "gabba land" as the smell of chicken began to permeate the air.

A few minutes later I noticed a rather smokey view of the kitchen.  Quickly, I rushed around the house, opening windows in a vain attempt to dissipate the smoke before the smoke alarms began to sound.  For a few minutes, I thought I had succeeded.   Thankfully I got to enjoy those few minutes.

The dogs were hovering by the back door, which should have been a major clue.  Our dog, Tinker, completely freaks out when the smoke detectors go off.  If you have never seen a beagle mix have a panic attack from the high pitched hell that is a smoke alarm going off, I assure you it isn't pretty.  I let the dogs into the overly wet yard-yet another clue, as our border collie hates to be outside when it rains.

I returned to the kitchen with a sense of dread and saw the smoke pouring out of the vents of the oven.  Not a few faint wisps, but white billowing smoke flowing out in ocean like waves.  Just as I checked to make sure the food wasn't burning and turned down the oven temperature, the lovely alarms began to sound.  The initial sound caused both boys to jump and turn their little faces in my direction to gauge my reaction.

To my credit, the initial response went well.  I made a big surprised face and calmly explained to them what the sound was as I kept my tone even.  This was a major accomplishment for me because a thousand thoughts were racing in my overwhelmed little brain.
  • Oh no, is the detector attached to the alarm system going to trigger?  Is the alarm company going to call?  Where is my cell phone?
  • How in the world am I going to get rid of this smoke without the boys running out of the house?
  • How long do I have before this either drives me crazy or the fire department arrives?
I opened the garage door and opened the back door.  It was fairly chilly and I could feel the cooler air enter the house.  As I picked up a blanket to wave smoke away from the nearest detector, I heard a precious little voice yell, "Close it!," followed by the bang of the back door closing.  E-dude likes closing doors.

Between the shrill pitch of the alarm and the proud, beaming face of my son, I could feel the beginning of desperation creeping into my being.  The alarm was still sounding, smoke was lazily wafting near the ceiling with no intention of moving, and dinner still wasn't finished cooking.  The dogs were steadfast in their refusal to come back inside, which let me know the ordeal was nowhere close to being finished.

I opened the door again , grabbed my blanket and assumed my place waving smoke aimlessly about.  I turned my head to watch the boys when two little bodies went running out the back door in a storm full of giggles.  Dropping my blanket again, I went out the door to grab my wayward little boys.

"COLD!" expressed G-man.

"Yes, honey.  It is raining and the ground is wet and cold, especially considering you only have socks on your feet."

For some reason, he found my response hilarious, but both he and his brother came inside.  I told them to stay indoors while I attempted to make the alarms stop sounding.  (We were currently in round 2 of the alarms going off)The boys must have decided that mommy was looking frazzled, so they got on their bellies with their heads poking outside.  From my place inside it looked as if the had settled down on the floor to watch a movie.  I guess watching the nervous dogs pace around the dark backyard was fascinating to a two year old.  I would have loved to join them as opposed to encouraging smoke to take up residence elsewhere!

Brief silence.  Enough time to breathe in deeply before another round of frantic futility.  I could feel the cool air circulating around the house.  The mystical haze around the lights seemed to be lifting.  The smell of scorched olive oil and roasting chicken filled the air.  Tiny giggles and the familiar door slam.  I sighed with resignation and groaned as the alarm started once more.

I gave the blanket a half-hearted wave and came to the decision to stop worrying about it.  Sure, it was shrill and maddening, but the boys weren't bothered by it.  In fact, they were playing a fabulous game of 'close the back door' with me.  After I finished saying "E-Dude!" and opening the door for the umpteenth time, the tell-tale slam would cause me to whirl around.  "E-Dude!, " but no, this time it was my mischievous little G-Man, puffed out in pride that he had fooled mommy.  I had to laugh, it was all so ridiculous.

The room was mostly clear with the exception of the lingering smell and in only a few moments, the smoke alarms surrendered to silence.  With an enthusiastic cry, I threw my hands up, danced a jig, and high tailed it to the kitchen to see if dinner could be salvaged.  I turned again to check on the boys in time to see them both pick up my discarded blanket and begin waving it in the air.  Sweet little helpers that they are, they managed to discover a new game by imitating me.

Surprisingly, the chicken looked alright, but it wasn't cooked all the way through. I made a sad little attempt to pan fry it so as not to disrupt the fragile silence by tempting the smoke alarms one more time.  Fail.

E-Dude was running around waving a dish towel in the air. Classic.

Sensitive though they may be, I AM thankful for our smoke detectors.

Just not when I am cooking chicken.


  1. Frantic futility...haha

    Sorry, I had to laugh. Only because I have been there and burned that!

  2. worries, I have been laughing about it all week :) Always nice to know you are not alone in the burning factor!

  3. actually, the recipe sounds great, just need to adjust the cooking temp down to like 350-375 and cook about an hour.