Every cook learns this tried and true lesson many times during their kitchen stints. Seems as if I have to be reminded a couple of times a year. There are rules about cooking. The most important is Safety First: watch your fingers, watch your head, close cabinet doors and drawers, don't walk around waving any sharp object ... hold it firmly, pointing toward the floor and away from your legs, lest you accidentally trip. Never leave something cooking on the stove unattended. Remember to use pot holders and wait until a container has cooled down before rinsing it with cool water. If you have furry family members remember to never, ever shut your pets in the refrigerator or freezer, or for that matter anywhere they shouldn't be. This goes for any closets as well as empty or just-packed suitcases. Double-check for those sneaky little critters. Always take a head count. Now, back to the kitchen.
Listen up: boiling water in a microwave is tricky as well as potentially dangerous. If it actually reaches that boiling point, it has the ability to leap and suddenly bloom upward and over, spilling out onto your skin and might send you to the hospital. This is serious stuff here! Now on to cleanliness ... keep your hands and work utensils and surfaces really clean. And even when you are multi-tasking and in a work-flurry of chefdom ... "Don't turn your back on the butter. I know ... it sounds like another corny Country-Western song", just take it from me. Every now and again, in fact a few times a year, I do it. I burn the butter!
Two days ago, while I was chopping onions and sauteing button mushrooms in rich bubbling butter, in all that golden yellowish-brown goodness, I asked my husband (the non-cook), to turn down the heat and stir the mushrooms. I heard him flip the switch to the off position and at the same time he called my name. I didn't catch it before it had gotten past the point of brownish nutty brown flavor. Oh no, I turned my back on the butter! I whirled around as fast as possible to grab the spoon and take the skillet off the stove. I did manage to save the mushrooms, but as I was removing them from the smoking pan, the butter turned from nutty golden to blackened oil. No longer was it fit to use, or edible. My 3/4 stick of yellow butter was now burnt beyond recognition. I loathe wasting food. It looked as if I had been frying fish for hours. No longer was it the creamy light yellow that held the promise and allure of enhancing my sliced mushrooms and later my onions. I had ruined it and turned it into a distasteful disgrace. I know I didn't mean to ... after all these years in the kitchen I forgot for just a moment, and turned my back on the butter.