Saturday, November 9, 2013


You can't substitute oil for solid shortening in a cookie recipe. It seemed, as the saying goes, like a good idea at the time, because oil is widely considered to be healthier than fat that's solid at room temperature. There are, it seems, other factors to be considered.

Oil is fine in muffins and pancakes, and all right in a cake if you aren't particular about the texture. The trouble with cookies is that as the dough softens in the oven the oil runs out in all directions. In a cookie sheet with sides, the result would be oatmeal-and-raisin islands floating in oil -- more or less deep-fried. The flat cookie sheet I used allowed the oil to escape off the edges and onto the floor of the oven, where it caught fire.

I slammed the oven door on the flames and subsequently explained the situation to a pleasant fellow who answered the phone at the fire department.

"So, what should I do?"

"Call us."

I think that was the time that, as Laurie rounded the corner on his way home from work, a fire truck rumbled past him and he heard its radio say something about "36 Circuit Street" -- our address. Somehow the possibility of fire didn't occur to him. He was afraid that I had been injured and was greatly relieved on arrival to find nothing much the matter.

I think that was also the time my sister called in media res.  "It's a wonder you're alive," she said.  She's probably right.

The fire departmen
t cheerfully extinguished the flames, and I now know enough not to try to make healthy cookies.