I got up this morning full of great plans for having a cooking day. Since I did not have to cook my own turkey dinner on Thursday, that primal urge was still strong. On my list were pans of baked ziti and chicken and dressing, along with chocolate/maraschino cherry shortbread--everything destined to be portioned and stored in the freezer to get me through a month of non-stop book editing.To honor the season, I decided to start with baking some pumpkin-spice rolls for breakfast. While the oven was heating, I was searching cookbooks for the right recipes. The cats were munching away at their breakfasts. The sun came out. All was right in the world. Yeah!
Then Swizzle (young female cat) leaped straight into the air, knocking over her food bowl, and went streaking into the living room with a bottle-brush tail. Dundee (older male) looked up to watch the fuss, and then he, too, yowled, jumped into the air and took off for a safe hiding place. I (slow on the uptake) looked around to see what had terrified them and discovered--my oven glowing, with white flames dancing behind the glass window in the oven door, and an ominous crackling sound.
Had I left something inside the oven? No, I never do that. I cracked the oven door to look inside and saw the heating element turning into white ash and scattering itself across the oven floor. I shut the door quickly, turned off the heat, and held my breath until the white tubing turned back to red and then faded down to black.
I don't suppose it was as dangerous as it looked. Oven fires tend to put themselves out as soon as they burn up all the oxygen. But it was certainly enough to get my pulse racing--and to remind me to be grateful for alert animals who let me know when something is wrong.
Bottom line: The oven is covered by my home repair policy, although it's a weekend and service guy won't show up until Monday. In the meantime, the stove is out of commission and I'll be eating whatever I can heat up in the microwave or electric skillet--no ziti, no chicken, no shortbread, not even the pumpkin-spice rolls.