Extension and Ag Research News


Prairie Fare: Take steps to prevent kitchen fires

Regardless of how you cook food throughout the year, keep kitchen safety in mind.

I saw several media stories about exploding turkeys during the Thanksgiving holidays.

Fortunately, the turkeys were not wandering around at the time of their demise.

The partially frozen birds were lowered into hot oil in turkey fryers. They were set to be the main entrée at dinnertime.

In the media reports, a fire department was showing the risks and precautions associated with deep-frying turkeys.

Lowering a turkey into a vat of boiling oil can cause fires and serious injuries to the cook and any observers. Fires can damage or destroy your home, unless precautions are taken.

The danger usually occurs if the fryer is overfilled, the turkey is not fully thawed and the hot grease spills and ignites. Sometimes, the entire cooking apparatus tips.

Turkey fryers are not certified by Underwriters Laboratory, which evaluates the safety of appliances.

Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are peak days for home fires. Regardless of how you cook food throughout the year, keep kitchen safety in mind.

During celebrations, we might be trying out new ways to prepare foods or cooking for larger groups. If you become distracted, you might leave the kitchen for a few minutes.

Here are a few questions to consider based on information based on 2017-21 data from the National Fire Protection Association. The answers are at the end.

On average, what percent of all fires in homes are linked to cooking every year?

  1. 24%
  2. 34%
  3. 44%
  4. 54%

 2. Which type of cooking appliance is linked to the most cooking fires?

  1. Gas range
  2. Electric range
  3. Convection oven
  4. Microwave oven

3. About what percent of consumers are asleep when a cooking fire starts and causes their death?

  1. 5%
  2. 11%
  3. 15%
  4. 24%

 4. All types of cooking require the cook to pay close attention. Which cooking methods require continuous attention? (Choose three.)

  1. Simmering
  2. Baking
  3. Broiling
  4. Frying
  5. Boiling

Here are the answers: 1) c; 2) b; 3) d; 4) c, d, e.

Exercise caution during cooking with these steps.

  • Stay in the kitchen or near the cooking appliance, such as an outdoor grill, when preparing food. Be particularly cautious when using high-heat methods such as broiling or frying.
  • To avoid the potential for burns, keep pot handles turned toward the back of the stove. This will make it less likely that curious children will bump the handles. In fact, create a “no-enter zone” around the stove so young children are less likely to get burned.
  • Keep oven mitts and towels away from the cooktop.
  • Keep the cooking area clean. Clean up grease on the stovetop, and clean spills from the oven after it cools.
  • Wear short sleeves or tight-fitting long sleeves that you can roll up or push back.
  • Don’t take a nap when cooking.
  • Do not use water to squelch kitchen fires. Have a working fire extinguisher in the kitchen. If a small fire starts in a pan, leave it in place, turn off the burner and put a metal lid or cookie sheet on the pan. If a fire starts in the oven, turn off the oven and keep the door shut. You may need to leave the house and call 911.

Here’s a favorite poultry recipe that mimics deep-fried chicken nuggets. There was no exploding poultry involved in the creation of this recipe.

Baked Chicken Nuggets

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup cornflake crumbs
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Italian herb seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2 eggs plus 2 tablespoons milk
Commercial honey mustard sauce (optional, as dip)
Barbecue sauce (optional, as dip)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Place cereal in a plastic bag and crush using a rolling pin or can. Add remaining ingredients to cereal crumbs. Close bag tightly and shake until blended. Whisk together eggs and milk in a separate bowl.  Dip chicken pieces in egg-milk mixture. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to crumb mixture and shake to coat evenly. Discard any unused crumb mixture. Place chicken pieces on greased baking sheet so they are not touching. Bake until golden brown with an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 12 to 14 minutes.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 220 calories, 2 grams (g) of fat, 7 g of carbohydrate, 0 g of fiber and 160 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Nov. 30, 2023

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu

Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-7881, elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu


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