You know those movies where a serial killer butchers someone and the body’s discovered when blood starts dripping through the ceiling? Boy, did I have a moment like that this week.
It had been a quiet evening. I tried my hand at making fajitas in my cast iron skillet — which were, by the way, absolutely delightful so you know you’ll be reading about them tomorrow — and was feeling pretty good about myself. Yummy food makes for a happy tummy and all. I’ve only owned my skillet for a few months and I swear, every time I pick it up I hear Flynn Rider in Tangled saying “Man, I have got to get me one of these!” after he fights off six guys. And then I snort at the thought of knocking out some intruder with my cookware. That’s not really the point, though.
They recommended cast iron for making fajitas, something about high heat cooking and all that jazz, and they were 100% right. That thing can sizzle and sear some food which is exactly what you want in fajitas, but clean up? Man, clean up is a whole other thing with cast iron. But that’s not really the point either.
Earlier that evening I’d placed the clean skillet on the back of my stovetop to finish drying before storage, rust being cast iron kryptonite and all. I was on my last minute run through on the way to bed when something caught my eye from across the room: a suspicious quarter sized puddle in my skillet. I knew it was completely clean when I set it there…or was it? Did I somehow miss oily residue on the side that slid to the bottom? Had I over-seasoned the skillet after rinsing it? Had I just lost my dang mind altogether? I couldn’t really rule out any of the above.
Who knew. I swiped the spot away with a paper towel and off to bed I went.
Cue the following morning when I slid into the kitchen, glanced sideways, and stopped dead in my tracks. It was back. The quarter sized puddle was back. Again. Less than twelve hours later. What in the actual hell.
Some of you might already know what was going on (although I highly doubt it) but in my defense I’d gone to bed pretty late and hadn’t yet had my coffee the next morning. It’s fair to say I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Anyhoo.
I blinked at the pan. And blinked at the stovetop where, after a careful scan, I spotted a dime sized spot to the right of my pan. Then time just sort of…suspended…until I gazed upward in a foggy haze because the only thing that had popped into my head was “is something dripping?” Except that didn’t make any sense because there’s, you know, house stuff above the stovetop.
I don’t mean to brag but, in general, I feel like I’m doing okay at this adulting thing. I get how banking/credit cards work. I can trouble shoot a thermostat. There’s all sorts of adulting knowledge stored away in my gray matter which is why I flipped out when I looked up then hesitantly reached out to touch the range hood vent screen only to feel sticky oily goopiness all over it.
I’ll just sit quietly for a moment while you tamp down your gag reflex. TRUST ME, I KNOW.
The awfulness of that vent screen was epic. Truly, it was beyond any possible description of awful. They could base slasher films off it. By the time I was done scrubbing the kitchen sink looked like I’d butchered something in there, too. It was so completely disgusting that all of my English major skills abandoned me as I stared in horror at what I’d been cooking under.
I managed to collect myself later that day and researched replacements because even though I’d “cleaned” it there really was no saving that thing. I’m just looking to avoid a fire until we get a new one in. Anyway, guess what I learned. Go ahead, guess. Turns out those vent screens are supposed to be cleaned or replaced EVERY SIX MONTHS. How often have I cleaned or replaced a range hood vent screen? That would be never. Exactly never. In any house or apartment in my entire adult life.
Some days I realize it’s a freaking miracle this place hasn’t spontaneously combusted around us. Bless.