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Also, let’s talk about how to get rid of that lingering odor.

Briana Riddock
October 31, 2017

Older apartments certainly have their charm... except when it comes to daily cooking on a gas stove that’s at least 20 years old. As soon as I heat my cast iron pan to the point where it’s smoking-hot to sear chicken thighs, my petite and charming apartment smokes up within seconds; and within minutes, my smoke alarm is set off. I hurriedly turn on the ceiling fan, hoping the smoke blows away from the alarm and open a window with little avail. Ultimately, I resort to removing the smoke alarm’s battery to relieve my ears of the incessant screeching I never want as my dinner prep soundtrack. Still, my apartment is coated in a musty fog of smoke, and I haven’t even finished cooking. This happens every time I cooked something at a high heat on the stovetop or when I set my oven to broil an item until it’s golden-brown. When I think about it, I’ve had this problem in just about every apartment that I’ve lived in...and the last time it happened (A.K.A. last night), my frustrations ran high.    

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So today, I brought my dilemma to the Time Inc. Food Studios test kitchen to see if anyone had practical tips on how to remove smoke from your poorly ventilated kitchen quickly. One person noted that you ought to take preventative measures, and open available windows and doors prior to cooking an ingredient that you know will smoke up your kitchen. In the summer months I don’t mind having all my windows open, but as the weather cools, it gets harder for me to welcome in the fresh air for too long during cooking. Robin Bashinsky, Time Inc. Food Studios recipe developer, proposed the following solution: Purchase a box fan from your local retailer or hardware store and place it in an open window or door as a means to suck the smoke out. By placing the fan outwards (with the air blowing out the door or window), the smoke circulates out of your home and into the air—fast. This seems to be an all-around safer means to addressing the situation than than removing the batteries from your smoke alarm. Not to mention, you can purchase a box fan for under $20. This budget-friendly solution is a solid option for home cooks who don’t have an exhaust fan over their stove (or have a barely functioning one), particularly on nights you want to pull out a cast-iron grill pan to pseudo-grill shrimp and steak on frigid November nights.

When that smoke is gone, but the burnt odor still lingers, simply slice a few lemons, toss them in a medium-size pot of water,  and bring it to a boil. Simmer the lemon water for about 30 minutes to allow the natural oils to release and absorb the stench for a fresh, lemony ending to a somewhat smoky night.

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