Sunday night, I had some beef I needed to cook or freeze. I decided to haul out the wok and stir-fry it with some vegetables, and then save it for later. Sliced it into strips, marinated it for a couple of hours, then got to cookin’.

As the wok (cast iron, baby, and coated in seasoning that’s two years old) heated up, with a little bit of canola oil, I thought to my self, “Self, I like things spicy. Now would be the perfect time to add some cayenne pepper. Just a dash…”

Got out the jar of ground cayenne, which I hadn’t used in a while. Opened the jar, which had no grate or grill on the mouth, and figured I should be careful.

Tipped the jar over… slowly… gave it a little shake…

…and a clump, about the size of my thumb, broke off and fell into the wok.

I laughed. At least at first.

The oil in the wok was just at the “smoke point” – perfect for stir-frying – but as I watched the clump of cayenne, it started smoking even more. A lot more.

I turned my oven fan on higher, but the smoke kept coming.

I started coughing. My eyes started stinging.

My kitchen, then my living room, started filling with spicy smoke; essentially, pepper smoke. I turned the stove down several notches.

In spite of the cold, I opened my doors and fanned to get the smoke out. Still coughing, nose and eyes stinging, I finally got my apartment mostly clear of smoke.

Sadly, my smoke detector did not go off. Note to self: test smoke detector and send note to landlord about that.

Now, days later, I can still smell spicy cayenne in my apartment. It’s kind of delicious, actually. I should cook more often.

I did finally get the beef and veggies cooked up. Man, that beef is gonna be spicy