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Jan 6, 2012 01:40 PM

Battle Wounds

I just had this crazy story to tell and I'm sure other people have similar stories to share about crazy/silly/scary things that happened to them while cooking.

So today I was cooking lentils in a flat rectangular metal pan over the stove. When I go to bring them to the table I pick up by the handles (which are the metal loop kind that hang down by hinges). I'm using thick oven mitts, but as I'm carrying the pan to the table (15 feet away or so) the handle feels hot. REALLY HOT. By the time I'm halfway to the table I'm worried that I'm burning myself, but my only other option was to drop the lentils, so I keep going.

As I turn my hand over and look at the palm of the mitt, a few wisps of smoke rise up. The pan had burnt almost all of the way through the oven mitt. I have no idea how hot it must have been to do that, or if something on the oven mitt might have started it (oil?), but it was a super strange experience. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before.

As a side note, my hand is mostly fine. It hurt a lot, and it's kind f red and sore, but it hasn't blistered.

Attached is a photo of the oven mitt. You can see right where the handle was.

Anyway, there's my story. Anything like this ever happen to you in the kitchen?

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  1. we've all got battle scars. my most common kitchen war wounds occur when i drop & shatter glass and get hit with the errant flying shard, or absentmindedly grab [what i KNOW is] a hot pan and burn the crap out of my hand. and i tend to drop extremely sharp knives (or knock them off the counter) on a regular basis, and they always come awfully close to embedding themselves in the flesh somewhere on my body...i've managed to escape unscathed thus far, but i fear it's only a matter of time before one of them hits its mark - just last night my santoku slipped off the counter (okay, okay, i *may* have bumped it) and landed about a millimeter from my bare foot.

    an injury thread here:

    and lots of war stories sprinkled in here:

    1. I've had my share of cut fingers (one of which once landed me in the emergency room), but the worst I suffered was somewhat related to your experience. I had made a veal in cream sauce dish in my largest Le Creuset skillet. I held the pan with one hand to pour it into the serving dish while scraping it with the other. The arm holding the pan was feeling strained, but I wanted to get it all arranged nicely on the dish so I made myself keep holding the pan up until it was empty.

      Nothing happened right away, but the next morning I woke up unable to move that arm at all without excruciating pain - turns out I'd seriously pulled the tendon in my shoulder. Took months of physical therapy before I was fully back to normal. That was about 20 years ago, and I still have that pan, but I treat it (and my shoulder) with more respect now.

      1. I have a few burns and knife injuries. Instead of mentioning all of them. Here are one of each (in very condensed version):

        I have chopped through my fingernail. Went to the hospital and the doctor removed my fingernail in order to examine the depth of the cut. The result from removing the fingernail caused much more pain than the cut. Well, the cut was painful too.

        I have turned on the wrong stove and heated up the metal handle of a pot. I realized it, and turned off the heat. Although I realize the handle was hot, I didn't realize how hot it actually was. I grabbed the handle in trying to move the pan, and it gave me a solid burn. It took about a week to recover... probably a tad longer.

        9 Replies
        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          oh man I chopped through my fingernail once- I learned the hard way that there's a reason they say to tuck your fingertips in while chopping! That basil scarred me for life, literally! Cut clear through the nail and almost completely lost the end of my finger. It was holding on by a "thread" and I ran to the closest hospital which was 7 (short) NYC blocks away where I sat in the ER for 5 hours awaiting treatment. About three rolls of paper towels later, I was xrayed and proven to have not chipped the bone. A nice tight bandage, a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics later I was back home and being far more careful about my knife skills.
          As an aside, I kept a gross photoblog of the status of my nub, which took about 5 weeks to fully shrivel up and fall off. I now have a new finger-end and nail, although it looks more square and has different nerve feeling than my other hand. Live and learn (and make the boyfriend do the chopping, when in doubt!)

          1. re: CarmenR

            "Cut clear through the nail and almost completely lost the end of my finger"

            I cut through the nail, but I didn't cut to the bone. That was one of the reasons why the doctor wanted to remove my fingernail to see if I cut to the bone.

            "I ran to the closest hospital which was 7 (short) NYC blocks"

            "although it looks more square and has different nerve feeling than my other hand"

            In my case, it looks and feels exactly the same as before, so I guessed you had it tougher, huh? :)

            I drove very slow to the closest hospital.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I've had to figure out a little system after grabbing the handle of a skillet that had come put of the oven. Blisters will make you smarter the next time! When I start on the stovetop and finish in the oven in a long-handled skillet these days, I leave a folded towel over the handle.

            1. re: Terrie H.

              "When I start on the stovetop and finish in the oven in a long-handled skillet these days, I leave a folded towel over the handle."

              Nice. I assume you mean the papertowel go into the oven with the pan. Does it not fall off?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Oh, no, sorry I wasn't clear. It is when I've taken the skillet out of the oven and set it on the stove, I grabbed the handle a few minutes later not thinking about the fact it had been in the oven - instinctually easy to just grab that handle to me (and worried that someone else in the kitchen might do the same). So I place a folded towel over the handle when is out of heat so no one is burned.

                1. re: Terrie H.

                  Ah, this makes very good sense. Thanks.

              2. re: Terrie H.

                +1 Putting a skillet in the oven to finish accounts for my worst kitchen injury ever, unless you count cutting vertically through the entire end of my finger and nail on a bread slicer at the bakery I worked at in high school.

                The entire palm of my hand and fingers were burned. It was so painful I thought I was going to have to go to the ER. I had to keep an ice pack on it for two days straight.
                NEver gonna make that mistake again. Now I put a mitten-type pot holder on that skillet handle the second it comes out of the oven.

                1. re: splatgirl

                  That's what happenned to me - a palm full of blisters that were painful for weeks. When I hear of people with real burns over their bodies I am so hurt for them just knowing how badly an insignificant one felt to me.

                  1. re: Terrie H.

                    Hey, but I had morphine! If it was significant to you, then it's significant.

            2. Yowza - weird that it got that hot!

              I have a hot pad with a large hole burned out of it...and absolutely no recollection or knowledge of how the burn got there. (I know, scary, right?) It's now my oyster mitt, as the remaining part is still thick enough to use for non-heat-related tasks. (it's one of the pocket-type hotpads that you slip your hand into.

              I have my "tiger stripes" -- a few scars from burns and cuts on my hands and forearms where I've had run-ins with one thing or another. I'm not disfigured, but they're noticeable in the summertime. I used to be self-conscious about them, until I saw Bourdain with a group of up-and-coming young chefs -- seems cuts and burns are worn with pride and are a sign of the dedication to one's craft. Now I figure I have street cred. (ha!)

              1. wow lucia never heard of the mitt burning but I have used a wet oven glove and learned a lesson.

                2 memorable burns for me - working in a bakery in my 20s and seeing that a tray of loaves was overcooking I pulled the tray from the commercial oven not realizing how heavy it was. This bread oven was around eye height and as I pulled out the tray the weight forced it onto the top of my inner arm - ouch.

                At home I once poured boiling water into the French Press and a minute later pushed the plunger. The coffee managed to do a volcano impression and whooshed out all over my hand. The impending blister a few hours later was about 4 inches in diameter and took days to heal.