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Suburban Island

These Are the Rules and Don't Forget Them
Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2004, 12:05 a.m.

QUESTION: Do You Know the Rules?

WHAT I LEARNED: Safety first.

Forget about the curse of King Tutís Tomb. Iíve got a microwave that has been the epicenter of many recent close calls with cutting edge kitchen technology from the first week of its arrival in our home. Within a few days of unpacking this innocuous little microwave from its carton, it was involved in the great popcorn smoke out. Its buttons seem to play tricks on us. I have accidentally nuked a lukewarm latte for 10 minutes instead of one, blackened heat-and-serve bacon within 90 seconds, shriveled frozen corn, and exploded non-microwave-safe plates in a twinkle.

This week my son discovered the fire-making potential of the foil-lined paper that restaurants wrap sandwiches in to keep them warm and tasty. Putting such a sandwich in the microwave with the wrapper still on it is a sure way to cause a stir in the calmest of households. In ours, the call - fire, fire!, created a small groundswell of momentary panic before the flames inside the microwave were squelched and the sandwich retrieved - none the worse for wear.

The result of this weekend adventure was twofold. First - my son knows more about the rules of microwave cooking then he did a week ago. Second - I was forced to consider that perhaps a household list of rules - such as my mother was much inclined to recite upon anyoneís approach to the kitchen area during my teenage years - might be worth re-working for the modern kid.

I have discovered that some rules never lose their luster, such as this personal favorite of mine:

Basic Kitchen Rule 1: Never stick any metal object such as a knife or fork into the toaster or youíll electrocute yourself. My mother loved this rule. I can see why too. Itís simple and yet so dramatic.

She provided a couple other household rules that I have used to good dramatic effect myself in the last few years Ė they have to do with not sticking your hand in the garbage disposal (youíll chop your fingers off) or the washing machine (your arm could get tangled in the clothes and the agitator will just keep going and rip your whole arm off). My kids never do any of these things. After hearing these admonitions, I am willing to bet they never will.

Another good one is this: Hold all sharp objects down (so you donít accidentally poke a hole in a rambunctious friend or family member). Itís an important one in a household where cutting bread with knives is move common than the traditional running with scissors theme.

Here are a few more household maxims I appreciate:

  • Wet hands and electric anything is a bad idea.
  • Donít leave compressed air tanks that you got to play paintball scattered on the floor because mom and dad could take a serious dive.
  • Just because the curling iron, clothes iron, stove burner, or other sometimes-hot item is off doesnít mean itís not hot. Touch all such household items with caution.
  • Open the oven door slowly Ė what are you doing sticking your face down there? Your eyeballs will crisp.
  • Cooking in the kitchen means staying in the kitchen.
  • A hot pan does not into the sink filled with water go.
  • Neither does water in hot oil belong.
  • Speaking of oil, watch it with the bath oil beads because at some point you are going to have to stand up to get out of that slippery tub.
  • Donít stick your fingers in the fan blades as a matter of principle.
  • Needles get put away (so you donít step on them eventually leading them to travel through your bloodstream and kill you dead).
  • Donít stick your face in the mist from a humidifier and leave it there (or youíll get pneumonia) and donít fall asleep with the heating pad on (which it states right in the directions glued onto the thing).

    And last but not least: always, ALWAYS, listen to your mom. She knows what sheís talking about.

    Image by Miriam Story Hurford - 1928

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