I have a strange history with those pull-out drawers at the bottom of ovens. Until fairly recently, I didn't know what they were supposed to be used for. I always thought they were somehow essential to the inner workings of the oven so I should just never touch it or bother it or use it.
When we moved to Tucson, however, my sister told me that you could actually store stuff in there - big, awkward stuff that didn't fit anywhere else, like rolling pins, cookie sheets, and oven mitts (more on that last one later). I was so excited to find that out. All this time, and I'd never utilized such a handy storage spot! I quickly made up for lost time and stuffed the oven drawer in Tucson with as many baking essentials as it would conveniently hold.
So you can see why as soon as we moved into our apartment here in Ithaca, I unpacked the cookie sheets, muffin tins, and oven mitts, and put them in the drawer under the oven. As I did so, I literally, and smugly, thought to myself, "I'm so glad Teresa told me I could store stuff under here. How silly that I used to think it was forbidden to do so!"
On Sunday, I turned on the oven for the first time since moving in to make cupcakes in preparation for Magdalena's birthday. After a few minutes, it smelled kind of smokey in the kitchen, but I figured the oven was probably just burning off debris left over from the previous resident.
But it kept getting smokier, and smokier, and finally, I called Jeremy over to see what the deal was. He said yeah, it probably was just old stuff left over, burning off, so we opened the windows and set up a fan and that was that.
Still, smoke was just pouring out of the oven. Soon, the smoke alarms were going off. Then I noticed large orange flames coming from under the oven. From the oven drawer, in fact.
Jeremy acted fast. He opened the oven drawer and quickly threw water all over the oven mitts, which were engulfed in flames.
Farewell, beautiful oven mitts. These were a wedding present from my brother Daniel. I've had them for almost eight years now but I'm afraid their usefulness has come to an end.
Jeremy had a good time giving me a bad time about all this, but I don't think I can really be blamed. He pointed out that the words "DO NOT USE FOR STORAGE" are emblazoned on the bottom of the drawer, but I pointed out that "emblazoned" is not really the right word and also, there were a few broiling racks placed over that warning so I never saw it.
So, should I have known better? Do you store oven mitts, or anything else, under your oven? I don't. Not anymore.