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That One Time I Started a Small Fire

Samantha Orland

Greetings from the Windy City! If you haven’t caught on by now, I am in Chicago this semester doing my HOD internship with Deloitte, and I am really putting my one winter coat to good use (read: Winter in Chicago is ROUGH).

Something that happens when you live in a place where you can’t stand to loiter outside is that many of your hobbies are replaced by eating. You see, the fabulous thing about food is that it can be enjoyed indoors. Where there is no snow. I digress.

I decided at the beginning of this semester that I would cook one homemade dinner each week from scratch. According to the rules I made up, the dinner would have to utilize more than 2 ingredients and be cooked in a skillet, saucepan, or in the oven. In the beginning, it was a piece of cake (pun intended). Anyone can cook spaghetti and meatballs or hard tacos, myself included. Once my two go-to recipes were out of the way, though, I had to turn to Pinterest and my recipe binder for inspiration.

Take a step into my kitchen, why don’t you…

Now that you are thoroughly impressed by my culinary aptitude, I want to tell you about the Corn Dog Fiasco of Thursday, March 20th. I decided to step-up my game in the kitchen, so I bought all of the supplies to make homemade corn dogs, including some dangerously pointy wooden skewers. Things were going fine and dandy at first as I made the cornmeal batter. It was a happy time that warranted a precious Instagram-worthy pic.

The calm before the storm.

My Pinterest recipe told me to heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees, and because I did not have a kitchen thermometer, I decided that 350 degrees just meant “super hot”. At one point, the oil started bubbling, so I decided it was ready. I chunked a meat popsicle into the lava oil and was horrified when the outside instantly turned black, leaving gooey yellow batter pooled around the hotdog. Okay, so that was too hot.

During this short episode of meat dunking, the whole apartment filled with smoke. I was blissfully unaware, so it was my roommate Maggie who brought me to my senses, feverishly fanning the fire alarm with her pillow. I decided it would be smart to move the death oil off of the burner, but I did so hastily and without actually turning off the burner. Oil sloshed out onto the very-much-still-on burner and sat there for about 1.85 seconds. Maggie and I stared at the oil, daring it to defy science.


There was much screeching. Much hollering. It is a great thing to remember in a time of panic that water does NOT belong on a gas fire. We discovered in this moment that our apartment does not have a fire extinguisher (all of the suites at Vandy do, though, don’t fret). In about 15 seconds the fire went out on its own, but not before we had banged on our neighbors’ door and had let our lives flash before our eyes.

One of the roomies was out of town, so I thought it would be funny to simply text her, “Um, where is the fire extinguisher…” I was right; it was funny.

In the aftermath, I ended up making these deformed corn dog creations. I could not let the fire win. However, I will never ever attempt to deep fry anything again.

I tried.

How many more recipes do I have to learn to be classified as a grown-up?

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