Well kids, this is going to start off like any other blog post.

And then it’s going to go wrong.

Very, very wrong.

It all started when I mentioned the cheese frenchee at work and I got the blank stares. Again. I’d found yet another thing that simply wasn’t a thing outside of Nebraska. And as I described the concept of a grilled cheese that was filled with mayo, bathed in batter, coated in Ritz crackers and then fried… I realized it was a something that people just had to try to love.

Which, was fine, because this girl knows how to cook.

Bring it on cheese frenchee.

And while we’re frying things, let’s make onion rings – I mean if the oil is already hot…

So I research recipes for both and I find ones that look easy and promising.

And so begins. Batter made for onion rings…which is supposed to take an hour to set (really?!).

Onions. Check. Batter ready. Check.

Onions. Check. Batter ready. Check.

Then I turn to the main dish. Crusts cut off. Cheese added.

Just think of the headache saved if I would have just quit here and stuck with good old fashion grilled cheese.

Just think of the headache saved if I would have just quit here and stuck with good old fashion grilled cheese.

And then this is where the evening took a turn.

A nasty nasty turn.

I had already opened the windows and doors because it was gorgeous outside (thank you LORD), but I noticed a smoke smell. Coming from the pot on the stove. The pot filled with an entire carton of oil. Not a skillet. No, I had elected for a giant spaghetti pot. Because I had heard that would work and that seemed genius.

Do we see where this is going?

Yes, it’s really that bad.

So I opened the lid of the pot… and then there was fire. Lots of fire.

Yes I took a picture. The camera was right there. And if my apartment is about to burn down, I'm documenting it. I was in a panic people. Bear with me.

Yes I took a picture. The camera was right there. And if my apartment is about to burn down, I’m documenting it. I was in a panic people. Bear with me.

Yes, that’s the lid sitting in the pot, completely engulfed in the flames.

In my mind I think “grease fire don’t use water” and baking soda swam into my mind. Instincts are a funny thing aren’t they? I ran and grabbed the box from the cat litter box (who is making fun of the cat lady now?!) ripped it open and poured it on.

Which made the flames instantly grow.

And then die a little.

So I ran back, grabbed another box and then dumped it on.

Which again, made it grow, maybe destroying the microwave…and then die down.

At which point I found my pot holders, grabbed the pan and RAN outside with it.

Which is, yes, when I burned my hand (only a little everyone – it’s nothing worse than a curling iron burn – don’t panic). Eventually (much much later) the pan fire stopped.

I mean, do you even try to save the pan at this point?

I mean, do you even try to save the pan at this point?

The smoke alarms are going off. The pets are in a panic. BUT MY APARTMENT IS NOT ON FIRE.

God. Is. Good.

I immediately shut the pets in my room. Prop the doors wide open and rush to fan some of the smoke out.

And look at the damage.

It's just smoke on the cupboards. They are fine. The microwave on the other hand. Is not good.

It’s just smoke on the cupboards. They are fine. The microwave on the other hand. Is not good.

There was baking soda everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.

But you know what? There wasn’t fire.

And I learned a valuable lesson: I will never fry anything ever again. And honestly, it might take me awhile to cook again.

It was terrifying. No one warned me about that. The recipes don’t say “oh hey, don’t get your oil too hot or it can start a massive and very scary fire that could burn down your entire apartment building.”

So I’m here to tell you: DON’T DO THAT. Oil gets hot. Super hot. And self combusts.

And as the smoke filtered out and the alarm stopped sounding… my friends arrived. And they helped me clean up. And they gave me hugs. And they laughed with me as I recounted the story in hysterics (I blame the adrenaline). And then they took me out for dinner. Because they are great.

I thought about skipping this post. About not telling you about this.

But I decided this was part of the adventure of blogging. Telling you my failures and letting you learn from them.

Because if I can save you one big and massive oil fire on your store. I will totally take that one for the team. I don’t wish that fear upon anyone.

Also, it’s pretty therapeutic to blog about it.

So with that. Be expecting my next blog posts to be all about baking.

Because baking? Yeah, there’s no fire involved in that.

And yes, I will absolutely be thanking God tonight for all of my blessings today. And tomorrow. And every day after that.

And then I will call my landlord…

(Yes, I realize that I didn’t include the recipes. As you can tell, I have no idea how they turned out and I felt like it wasn’t fair to tell you about them if I couldn’t vow they were good!)

**Update: Here’s something my fabulous Aunt Di shared with me that I’d like to share with you in case you want to try this at home!

  • Don’t ever cover hot oil. Any steam trapped in the pot could cause oil vapor/droplets to catch fire. Even if you’re frying in a pan with oil, don’t cover it with a solid cover–the steam or water from the food can cause the same eruption.
  • Regulate the temperature. You can do this with an electric frying pan/pot that will do this automatically but, if you don’t want to spend the extra cash money, just get a good thermometer to monitor the temp of the oil. And keep an eye on it.
  • Have a fire extinguisher for the kitchen. It can’t hurt to have it tucked away in the corner where you can grab it if need it. Plus, once you get one, you will never need it! Right?!

And also, maybe have another person present. Because an extra set of hands when fighting a fire couldn’t hurt…**

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  1. Cathy Maddox says:

    You absolutely make me laugh out loud. The best part is I can actually “hear” you through the words that you type. I think you could be the next Erma Bombeck!!!

  2. Sage says:

    Betsy, I HAVE TOTALLY DONE THAT. Made it through the whole day of cooking food for the week, was so proud of myself, then the tragic second I decided to make fried avocado wedges for dinner? So many flames. It’s so scary, embarrassing, draining… not to mention a pita to clean up. I feel your pain, sister. Hope everything gets back to normal quick! It’s been over a year later and I still will not attempt to fry anything.

  3. kayleemarie says:

    Betsy, I love you and I love your blog and thank you for taking a picture of a fire on your stove. This post made my day. Also I’m glad you’re alive!!! Hahahaa

  4. Kim says:

    I totally did that once in Kenya. It was late and I just wanted to make popcorn. I stood there staring at it for a second, with the same thoughts about water and grease fires and then I just put the lid back on and held it down to starve the flames. Then I spent a long time scrubbing a pot. If you do get your courage up for frying again, be sure to pick an oil with a really high burning point – I know peanut oil is good, I can’t remember which others. Olive oil and palm oil are not good for that.

    • I’m learning this is more common than I would have thought… which is why I’m wondering… WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?! Thanks for the heads up on peanut oil… I’ll have to look into that… Miss you!

  5. Linda says:

    Oh, Betsy…I know it is not funny but we’ve all near disasters like that! The important thing to remember is that in all of the scary panic you were clear headed enough to take a picture THEN find something to smother the flames with! Your blog makes me laugh every time I read it and makes me miss you, little Miss Sunshine =)

  6. Tim says:

    I love reading your blog. This is hysterical!

  7. Tim says:

    Oh, and I love the fact that you took a picture of the flames before putting it out. 🙂

  8. […] that one time I tried to torch my apartment down with the oil fire… if you don’t, clearly you haven’t been around me at a […]

  9. […] now I’m wondering if maybe my land lady has been reading the blog… and knows about the Cheese Frenchee Incident…? […]

  10. […] living in another state. To laugh about almost nearly torching my apartment to the ground with an oil fire. To remember the time I was a THAT crazy cat lady who made a liter box cabinet for her cat that […]

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