Monday, August 20, 2018

Don't Turn Your Back On The Butter

by Theresa H Hall (writer), East Coast USA, August 13, 2010

Credit: biberfan
melting butter in a hot saute pan

I know ... it sounds like another corny Country-Western song.

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.

About the Writer

Theresa H Hall is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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10 comments on Don't Turn Your Back On The Butter

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By Theresa H Hall on August 13, 2010 at 02:43 am

When Ripley was six months old, he got into the fridge when I had been putting away the groceries. Of course he did this when I turned my back ... sly kitty. I went to the living room to watch television. As I was watching Wheel of Fortune, I kept hearing the faint sounds of glass clinking and tinkling. I looked about the kitchen because Ripley knew how to get into the cabinets on the floor level. Not finding anything I went back to the living room to continue watching TV. A few minutes later I heard this again and I went back and searched the kitchen cabinets again. Thankfully, he did it again because then I realized the sounds were coming from the refrigerator.

The color left my face and I flung open the door. The light popped on and there he was, my dark gray and white kitten! He was pretty darned chilly and I figured out that he had been in there for 30 minutes! This is the reason I do head counts and double-double checking that my kitties are walking about the condo freely. He was glad I rescued him ... twice. RIP Ripley 1988 - 2001. Mommy loves you.

Back to the butter. You really have to stay alert. And never go off and leave the fire on under the pan. Be Safe.

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By Libdrone on August 13, 2010 at 03:01 am

saute butter on low heat only OR add some olive oil to raise the butter's smoke point so it won't burn. Never try to rush sauteing. keep the heat low and the mushrooms moving and they will be equisite in no time ;)

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By the expat returned on August 13, 2010 at 09:19 am

Always properly vet your sous-chef!

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By Theresa H Hall on August 13, 2010 at 11:36 am

Librone, I know. I'm a chef ... I know. Ha!

Cher, Yes, it's a tribute to being a cook.

expat returned, Ha ha ha ha!

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By Theresa H Hall on August 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Gee thanks for the compliment Libdrone. Come visit me over on my website ... I didn't burn anything over there. Ha!

I should have put my story under HUMOR.

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By DLFerguson on August 13, 2010 at 01:56 pm

Ah, yes...I keep reminding The Wife that cooking is best done in the kitchen where you can actually keep an eye on what you're cooking. "But I put it on LOW!" is her favorite defense. We eat out a lot. LOL!

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By Theresa H Hall on August 13, 2010 at 03:52 pm

You're in the capital of the world and restaurants surround you. I'd eat out were I there.

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By Rich Becker on August 13, 2010 at 04:06 pm


A lot of good tips here, especially for a cook like me. (My daughter comes in a shuts all the cabinets.)

I did burn a little butter last week too. I wasn't out of the kitchen. I was too busy prepping the other dish. Blah! First time too.


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By Theresa H Hall on August 13, 2010 at 05:54 pm

Rich, I was four feet away prepping more food. I think I was daydreaming about an article I was composing in my head.

I used to hate it when (in the professional pastry kitchen), I would be doing so many things at the same time, that I would allow the sugar (garnish) to get too dark or to burn. Everyone burns something when they cook a lot. even the finest chefs, too ... we don't have eight arms.

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By l0oree on September 05, 2010 at 05:07 am

I have never had a problem with butter. Since about 7 years old I have always liked to cook my eggs in butter. What I have done is put cold water on hot bacon grease. Ouch! Is all I can say.

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