I’m a procrastinator. I can prove it. The first time I cleaned my gas oven was four years after I bought it. I had my reasons. I didn’t really use it all that much. Most of the time, I cook on the stove or in the microwave.
A few years ago one September, there was that messy lasagna. It had been quite full in the pan, and was pretty juicy. For weeks I smelled garlic, basil and burning cheese every time I baked cookies or a cake.
As Thanksgiving approached, I thought about cleaning my oven. It wasn’t that the combination of turkey and Italian spices would be unappetizing, but somewhere in the back of my head, I had visions of turkey grease, smoke and fire.
The necessity for cleaning my oven became immediate. Well, immediate for a procrastinator. I read the directions for cleaning my oven the morning of Thanksgiving. (Did I mention my oven was self-cleaning? I never realized it took four to six hours to clean an oven that way.) I decided to wait until after Thanksgiving dinner. After all, the oven would just get dirty right away anyway. If I waited until Friday, I could clean the turkey stuff and the lasagna stuff all at once. And besides, my mother-in-law was coming for Thanksgiving, and I didn’t want the house to smell like fresh cleaned oven.
I carefully placed our 14 pound royal bird in the oven, using my very sturdy, one inch deep cookie sheet. (Did I also mention this was the first time I cooked a turkey in the oven? I usually bar-b-q turkey. It’s faster that way.)
About 45 minutes later, I noticed what seemed to be an inordinate amount of liquid in the pan. Hmmm, I thought. I knew the turkey had been completely defrosted and the innards were out. I looked in my poultry cookbook (for the first time) and read the directions, only to find that I should have placed the turkey in a deeper pan. I did my best to scoop out the liquid. Another 45 minutes went by, and I had to repeat the process. This time, I noticed the liquid was more dense and flowing faster. Some had dripped over the edge of the pan. Aha, I thought, I’m baking off all that nasty fat. 30 minutes later, smoke began to escape from the oven vent. I opened the oven door to find my turkey in flames. I quickly ushered my children outside, in case the oven blew up. I called the fire department (who happened to have a fire stations just acrosw the street. ) My husband grabbed the fire extinguisher and I urgently suggested to him that he not spray toxins on our dinner. In his panic, haste, and I’m sure, desire to keep a roof over our heads that night, he aimed, fired, and dressed our dinner in white.
We had my favorite meal for Thanksgiving that year. Dinner out.