NOT YOUR MAMA’S KITCHEN: Burnin’ down the house

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First Posted: 7/16/2013

No one on this planet knows what I’m about to tell you, except my significant other and my dog. I feel like I should start this off as our columnist Justin Brown sometimes ends his stories: Sorry Mom and Dad.

The incident lasted all of five minutes, absolute tops, but it was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve gone through – and, in hindsight, the funniest. All I wanted to do was make some fiery jalapeno buffalo burgers with sweet potato pancakes as buns, recipe courtesy of the book “Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanfilippo.

Ugh, the irony of the “fiery” in this recipe just now hit me.

It’s a pretty simple recipe: For the burgers, grill a jalapeno until blackened, gut and chop it, then combine it with your choice of meat, pepper, salt, paprika and onion powder and grill the patties up. I went with lamb, but bison is also a tasty option.

Also, a good tip, because I sometimes find I have trouble cooking meat: make a thumbprint-sized dimple in the middle of each burger to allow for even cooking.

The sweet potato pancakes are also easy. All you need to do is combine shredded sweet potatoes with eggs, coconut flour (I used organic because coconut was impossible to find locally), cinnamon, sea salt, and ginger, then press it into cake-like shapes. The recipe calls for three eggs, but I feel as though the mixture was too wet, so I would recommend going with only two. If you find it to be dry, crack another egg in there.

Next, fry them in a pan over medium heat. This is where everything went to hell.

A while back I told you how my electric stove is incredibly temperamental. The top left burner gets surface-of-the-sun-hot, even if put only to 3 or 4. So, guess what burner I used to cook the cakes on? Idiot.

I should tell you now that my place of residence has a smoke alarm that’s wired in to the local fire department, but it also has a regular one as well. So when my cakes started cooking way too fast, throwing smoke in every direction, and causing the smoke alarm to go off, I assumed it was the regular one. It didn’t seem as though there was that much white stuff floating around, so why would the other go off?

I calmly opened the windows and door to my apartment to air it out and did what most people do when a smoke alarm goes off for a reason other than an actual fire and the bleating is too much for their ears to bear – unhooked it from the ceiling. Big. Fat. Mistake.

About a minute later, as the boy and I were finishing up cooking, I heard sirens. My heart stopped – I just knew where they were coming.

“Relax,” boyfriend said, “I’m sure they aren’t coming here.”

And still, they grew louder. And louder. And then I could hear truck doors slamming shut and the crackle of walkie-talkies.

I raced down the steps to head them off and wouldn’t you know it – there, in my tiny parking lot, blocking part of a very busy street, was an ambulance, fire truck, cop car, and another fire truck on the way.

“I’m just burning my dinner!” I shouted to the men who were now rushing towards the door to my building. “It’s fine, I swear!”

And so I stood as they radioed “Stand down, cooking incident” for all to hear. Then I led a guy dressed in full-on firefighter gear, a cop, and someone else from the fire department up to my second-story abode to see not only that there was no fire, but my apartment is, in fact, a fire hazard because it needs to be cleaned so, so badly right now.

They did a quick sweep, told me to put a fan in front of the window to pull the smoke out, and were on their way – taking my dignity with them.

I would not only like to thank my S.O. for loving me at my most cringe-worthy, but also the men of the fire and police departments in Wyoming for showing up so quickly to make sure all was OK and being so understanding. And you, mom and dad, for not freaking out when you read this. It’s funny now, right?

Go forth, my friends, and make these burgers (which turned out to be insanely delicious) – just don’t let things get heated like I did.