Kitchen Contaminants

By Heather Legg

I remember once a few years back I was baking cupcakes for a birthday party and I told one of our peanut allergic guests that they were peanut free. I had been careful to check labels and all of that, then she asked another question I wasn’t expecting: “Do you ever bake with peanut butter or peanuts?” Since I don’t very often, I told her that – her daughter enjoyed the cupcakes with no adverse repercussions.

I hadn’t thought about that conversation for some time, years even, until last night. I was baking for a back to school luncheon and was trying out some peanut butter and jelly bars (which I, of course, was going to label and keep on a separate tray, even though I don’t think anyone allergic was attending). As I was adding or mixing or pouring or something, a big blob of the peanut butter laden dough hit the side of the mixer and sort of down into here the beater connects. In other words, it got in the nooks and crannies of my Kitchen Aid.

That’s when it struck me – that could be a contaminate. I mean I always wash my cookie sheets in hot soapy water and/or the dishwasher, I wipe the area and clean the mixer and bowls like the cookie sheet. I always wipe my mixer down, too, because it never fails that flour floats up and dusts down or something dribbles somewhere. But peanut butter!?

It made me wonder how often that happens. Probably much more often than we think and for all those who think home made treats are safer than store bought, you may want to think again if the person doing the cooking uses any type of ingredients that you may have issue with.

My mother-in-law hates eating pot luck. She always eats just what she brought, or maybe just maybe, what someone close to her brought whom she knows keeps a clean kitchen. She, in fact, only lets us eat her dishes. She worries about kitchen contaminants, not for allergies sake, but things like general uncleanliness, pet hair, hand washing, that kind of thing. Ugh, I know.

So I cleaned my mixer’s nooks and crannies and the peanut butter and jelly bars didn’t even turn out. I had to make my good old standby chocolate cookies at midnight, but that’s a whole story in and of itself. If nothing else, though, besides learning that I don’t like that pb&j bar recipe, it opened my eyes a bit to kitchen hazards, for some more deadly than a knife and a cut finger.

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