Nobody ever wants to burn the beets, scald the garlic or char the fish—but kitchen chaos happens. Sometimes it's tough to decide which is worse: ruining the meal or trying to get rid of the odor of a burning pan and a smoke-filled house. While the former can be corrected with a call for carryout, the latter takes a few strategic tips. A fan, some vinegar and quick thinking are the most important tools you'll need.
Remove the pan from the heat source, using an oven mitt if necessary. Shut off the burner. Do not immediately fill the pan with water, as that immediately adds more smoke to the house. Take it outside and let it cool down.
Ventilate the kitchen. Open any nearby doors and windows to start fresh air circulating. Increase the circulation by putting a small fan in front of a window with the fan pointing outside. This will suck the smoke out through the fan and outdoors, while fresh air will stream in through other open windows or doors.
Boil away the stench. Fill a heavy pot with one quart water and two cups of distilled white vinegar. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Continue to simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes.
Deal with the pan. Dispose of the charred remains of dinner by placing the cooled contents into a plastic bag. Seal the bag and put it outside in the trash. Or use the remains in your compost heap if you have one.
Clean the burned remnants off the pan by filling the pan with a shallow amount of water and a tablespoon or two of liquid or powdered dish detergent. Bring to a rapid boil. Allow to settle. Rinse and wash as usual.
Take extra measures. If boiling away the stench is not enough, continue to rid the kitchen of the burnt stench with more vinegar. Place two or three shallow bowls filled with vinegar around the kitchen to absorb more of the odor. Put vinegar on two or three slices of white bread and place them around the kitchen for more absorption. Clean kitchen counters and other surfaces that may have smoke residue with vinegar diluted with water. Rinse well.