Smoking Under Water

As usual, I got home from work late and exhausted and nowhere near finished with the ubiquitous paperwork needed for school. I came in and dropped my stuff and whistled with my bird while I headed for the kitchen. The few squiggly pieces of meat, a rice cake, and a couple clementines had gotten very lonely in the eight hours since lunch.

I knew there was nothing to reheat in the fridge, so I grabbed a medium-sized saucepan, a box of lentils, an onion, and some frozen carrots. After stir frying the onions a bit, the lentils went in and got covered up with sufficient water. I put it on the stove over medium, set a timer so I wouldn’t forget to check it, and went to go grade papers while Emergency! episodes played on the DVD.

Not too far into the grading shenanigans, I needed a rubric for an assignment, so off to my computer in the back room to build the rubric on my computer. It didn’t take long, really, but when I came out of my office, there was a definite whiff of scorched-ness coming from the kitchen. I charged on ahead and found dense smoke flowing from the kitchen.

I bolted into the kitchen and pulled the pan off the burner then raced around to open up the doors and windows in the kitchen and living room. Fortunately, the evening was breezy. The wind pulled most of the doors closed with loud bangs like untimed fireworks and blew the smoke out of the house within just a couple minutes. Curiously, the smoke alarms never sounded.

Now what had caused this little misadventure? There was no way the pan had boiled dry that quickly.  I returned tot he kitchen and looked.  It was still over half full of water. No, I had not brilliantly let the pan boil dry.

The best I could figure out was that all the lentils and onions had settled to the bottom and packed in there really well long before the water got to boiling. I hadn’t had that problem before, but after that, I got the water up to a boil before I dumped in the lentils. No more smokiness.


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