Reduce your risk of kitchen fires this holiday season

"I just found out that our wired-in smoke detectors were recalled a few years ago," my husband told me one morning. I am sure my wide-eyed expression conveyed concern. We change the batteries regularly but we didn't know we had potentially defect...

Black beans are the secret ingredient in this tasty brownie recipe. NDSU photo
This fudgy treat has a fiber-rich not-so-secret ingredient: beans. (NDSU photo)

"I just found out that our wired-in smoke detectors were recalled a few years ago," my husband told me one morning.

I am sure my wide-eyed expression conveyed concern. We change the batteries regularly but we didn't know we had potentially defective smoke detectors.

"I'm replacing all of the smoke detectors," he added quickly.

"How did you find out they were recalled?" I asked. I didn't remember seeing any notice.

"I looked it up online," he responded.


When was the last time you checked your smoke detectors? According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke detectors have a "shelf life" of 10 or fewer years.

Fires are a risk, especially during the holiday season. If you have a Christmas tree in your home, be aware that one of every 45 home Christmas tree fires results in death, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Fortunately, Christmas tree fires are rare.

During the holidays, people often do more cooking, and the number of fires associated with cooking food increases sharply.

How much do you know about fires? Here are some questions gleaned from information from the National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Fire Administration. Explore their educational resources for more information. The answers to the questions are at the end of the quiz.

Question 1: Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires and injuries. What is the leading source of kitchen-related home fires?

a: Ovens

b: Ranges or cooktops

c: Small appliances


Question 2: If a small fire starts in a pan on your stove, what should you do?

a: Throw it in the sink

b: Cover it with a lid

c: Pour water on it

d: Run through the house and throw it outside

Question 3: During which three days of the year do most home cooking fires occur?

Question 4: You might make heritage recipes such as homemade doughnuts or rosettes during the holidays. List at least three important things to do to help prevent fires when frying food of any type.

Question 5: What is the source of most home decoration fires?


a: Outdoor Christmas lights

b: Candles

c: Indoor Christmas tree lights

Question 6: If you enjoy candles as part of your holiday decor, how far should they be away from anything that burns?

a: 6 inches

b: 12 inches

c: 18 inches

d: 24 inches


Here are the answers. 1. b; 2. b; 3. Thanksgiving (No. 1) followed by Christmas and Christmas Eve; 4. Stay in the kitchen with an eye on the food. Place cookers such as deep-fat fryers on a flat, heat-resistant surface. Heat oil slowly. Don't overheat oil; if the oil smokes, you are overheating it. Add food gradually to avoid splattering oil. Have a lid by the pan to smother small fires. If you can't put out a small fire, get everyone out of the house and call 9-1-1. 5. b; 6. b.

Have fun baking and cooking during the holiday season, but exercise some precautions. Here's a fudgy treat with a fiber-rich not-so-secret ingredient. Our taste testers loved them.

Peanut Butter Black Bean Brownies

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

3 eggs

3 Tablespoons canola oil

3/4 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder


1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch salt

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks

Crushed peanuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly coat an 8- by 8-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Put black beans in a strainer and rinse thoroughly, then place in food processor with oil and process until smooth/creamy. Add eggs, sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, peanut butter, baking powder and salt; process until smooth. Add half the amount of peanut butter chips and pulse the food processor to mix in the chips. Repeat with the remaining chips, along with the chocolate chunks. Put the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Top with chopped peanuts if desired. Bake for about 35 minutes or until the edges start to pull away from the sides of the pan. You can test the center by inserting a toothpick. If the brownies are done, the toothpick will come out clean. Let brownies cool for 10 minutes, then cut into 2-inch squares.


Makes 16 servings. Each serving has 130 calories, 6 grams (g) fat, 4 g protein, 17 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 115 milligrams sodium.

Garden-Robinson is a food and nutrition specialist for the NDSU Extension Service.

Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service
Julie Garden-Robinson, NDSU Extension Service

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