Greetings, Blog Readers and Foodie Friends!
Often times when we are preparing food at home we may be unaware that kitchen accidents are potentially a moment away. Think about it---mechanical devices, flames, heat, water running, knives. These can all lead to accidents in the kitchen. I write this in my endeavor to keep you safe and healthy. This list is not comprehensive, by no means, but here are some:
Chef Coats are worn by kitchen workers. They keep our underclothes clean and look nice and snazzy. Coats with knotted buttons are longer-lasting and actually safer. Why? If you were to be involved in hot grease or fire to yourself, these knotted buttons can actually "rip" open more easily. They are designed that way for that purpose!
My worst accident in my cooking career was at Phillips Exeter Academy. We had soaked corn cobs for roasting on an outdoor grill. Rather than pour the water on the ground at the end of the event, I figured I'd throw it directly into the hot coals. Bad juju bean! The water turned into steam, up the heavy container of pouring water, and took several layers off my (unprotected) knuckles.
I am not a big fan of crying in public, especially around a kitchen crew. The Food Service Director assessed the severity of my hand, surprised I did not want to be rushed to the Emergency Room, and said: "Neubert, you are one tough cookie. I don't think I could be that composed." Well, folks...I went home and treated the injury myself. And, yes...I cried later at my own foolishness and lack of experience.
*"Hey. Did you hear about so-and-so doing such-and-such..."
If your phone rings and you are cooking, turn off the burner and do not walk away. Fires start. Food overcooks. It always happens when you are not near it. You and your friend can talk later. Concentrate on the task at hand.
*Wrap it Up Right..and Carefully
Oddly, and I mean very oddly, the most common injury in commercial kitchens is cutting yourself on the box that dispenses aluminum foil or cling film. Look at the sawtoothed blades used to cut aluminum foil. They are sharp! You are one "space out" away from ripping your hand with them. Most companies have dispensers that have a slider cutter; look for these. These injuries really hurt and are totally avoidable.
Betsey Golon, a Master Gardener here in Naples, once said (and she related it to gardening): "Take the time to exist in the present." If you are cooking, cook. If you are pulling weeds, stop multi-tasking with a phone in one ear. I know it is challenging in the fast-paced world in which we live. There is, however, a certain peace that is there when you follow you passion without interruption.
I will keep you posted on more safety tips as I think of them. Have to end as guests will be checking in soon. Today's afternoon treats are New England Cranberry Hermit Bars. These are spicy and delicious and moist. Wish you were here to try one! Until then...thanks so much for reading--and, by all means, be careful in your cooking!!!
Keith A. Neubert
Innkeeper, Inn at Long Lake