Although my friend, Purana, swears by lavender oil for kitchen burns, I am a big fan of Siver Sulfadiazine, which goes by the punk initials SSD. For some reason, the SSD cream is prescription only, even though I never heard of anyone freebasing the stuff (and I went to a high school with a pretty major dirtbag population).

Last year I got a terrible burn on my hand from pouring boiling hot dal straight from the pressure cooker onto that thin skin webbing between the thumb and pointer finger. It bubbled up and blistered over within seconds. Thankfully, my husband was able to score some SSD from work. Within a week I was healed.

One of my biggest fears in life is getting burnt. I tend to have to face this fear with great frequency since I spend much of my time in the kitchen and seem to never learn to be careful. Or at least careful enough not to get burnt. But thankfully, these have all been minor brushes. But as a precaution, my husband forbids me to fry anything on an electric stove (not just deep fry…I’m even talking pan fry) since when we were first married and living in our apartment in Tucson, stovetop fires were a weekly occurrence.

Luckily, none of these fires required a call to the fire department. However, I do recall a time prior to marriage when I was quite flammable. While living in an ashram in West Virginia, my sari caught fire one day while I was cooking for a feast. I was at a candy stove cooking with my back to another candy stove. All of a sudden I began to feel hot. My sari was burning and I was a bit like, “Whoa, my sari’s burning.” Pretty much everyone else in the kitchen was a monk and the site of a flaming hot woman in front of them did little to inspire any action other than wide-eyed stares. Thankfully a very nice man named Nityo had the good sense to beat out the flames. I will always love him for that.

Now I do whatever I can to stay out of big commercial kitchens with unserviced candy stoves and huge deep fryers or woks of hot oil. What to speak of the missing link between this cooking equipment and a full body burn: wet, slippery floors. Sometimes I think I spend as much time worrying about avoiding burns as I do planning what I will cook. But just when I let my guard down, I find myself rummaging through my kitchen cupboards wondering where the hell I stuck the SSD cream.

This happened to me on July 15th, when an unexpected gathering of 40 people at my house had me at the skillet cooking aloo parathas. Since I was making so many, I wanted to clean out the skillet mid-way to get up any old oil and burnt flour which dusted the parathas left behind. With a cloth I swabbed the hot pan, and as I was folding the cloth over to get a more absorbent surface area, my finger came in contact with the oil soaked part. Ow. Hot oil always burns.

Because most of the kitchen was already packed and condensed down to just two cabinets, I had a difficult time locating the tiny jar of cream. I had to roll out and cook the rest of the parathas with an ice cube wrapped with a cloth scrap around my finger. Eventually I got some help in the kitchen and finally found my burn cream. My finger felt better within hours.

Which leads me to this point. I know aloe plants are kitchen staples to have on hand for burns. And my friend Purana wholeheartedly endorses lavender oil—which I tried once and the feeling of oil on a burn did little to win my recommendation. But if you can score some Siver Sulfadiazine, do. Now I am not saying you should knock over a pharmacy for the stuff, but if you have a doctor who is lenient with writing prescriptions, this stuff is a great addition to any first aid kit. Especially if you are like me and find yourself highly flammable in the kitchen.


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