Nanny Fail: How I Almost Burned Down My Employers' House
I don't want to sound full of myself, but I'm a pretty great nanny. I create all kinds of fun activities for my nanny kids, I take my job very seriously, and I adore all my past and present nanny kids. But I'm definitely a novice when it comes to cooking, baking and meal planning. When potential employers interview me and ask about my cooking skills, I always say I can read a recipe, but I'm no Betty Crocker.
I've been trying to rectify this recently, by finding recipes for my twin charges. I keep making more food, but somehow we're always running low. I swear, these boys' tummies are bottomless pits! My MB (mom boss) found this recipe for Sweet and Sour Tofu Sticks which the boys liked. She made them the first time, but the second time, she made the marinade but asked me to bake them. No big deal, so I followed the recipe verbatim.
I put the boys down for their naps, and preheated the oven. MB told me that instead of marinating the tofu for an hour, she did it overnight, but that probably shouldn't change anything. So I got a cookie sheet (which is what the recipe called for), lined it with parchment paper, and placed the tofu on it. Once the oven was preheated, I put the tofu in, and cleaned up the dishes.
I then stepped outside to the backyard to prep an activity for the boys once they woke up. Seconds later, I heard a blaring alarm. I ran back into the kitchen (I had been gone about 30 seconds) and there was smoke coming from the oven! I immediately turned it off, pulled the tofu out, and a giant cloud of smoke came out.
The smoke alarm was still going, and in EVERY ROOM, including the boys' rooms! Of course they woke up, super startled, because not only a blaring alarm was going off, but a mechanical voice was loudly saying something like "THERE IS SMOKE IN THE KITCHEN. EVACUATE NOW. EVACUATE NOW." My MB came running in, and we each grabbed a baby, and ran out of the house. My DB (dad boss) and the housekeeper went into the kitchen and opened all the windows and doors. Of course, we were all freaking out, but I tried to stay calm, in hopes that my slowed heart rate would help relax the baby I was holding.
I kept apologizing to MB, saying I didn't know what happened. She told me I did nothing wrong, that there must be faulty wiring or something wrong with the oven. She said all that matters is that everyone is safe. The housekeeper and DB finally got the alarm to stop by opening every door and window, and turning on every fan they could find.
Here's the amazing part: after all that drama, I actually got both boys to sleep again! One went down with zero problems, the other needed to be rocked to sleep, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Later that day, the housekeeper (the true hero in this story) cleaned the oven and solved the mystery. The marinade had maple syrup in it, which is essentially sugar, and it dripped off the cookie sheet into the oven. The sugar burned, and turned into a smoky mess. So yes, it was my fault.
I told my MB what the housekeeper said, and apologized again. She said it was an accident, and didn't blame me at all (thank goodness).
So the moral of the story is read every recipe carefully, but also use caution and common sense. If you're baking something that's juicy or has a bit of liquid in it, DO NOT bake it on a cookie sheet. Use a baking tray with a lip on it, so the juices don't drip into oven. Even if it doesn't fill your house with smoke, it could make a total mess in your oven.
Hey, we all make mistakes, right?