Posts belonging to Category cook



Holiday Food Safety Tips from the USDA

food

The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Offers the Following Food Safety Tips for the Holiday.

  • Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling any food. Wash food-contact surfaces (cutting boards, dishes, utensils, counter tops) with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under cool running water and use a produce brush to remove surface dirt.
  • Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking in order to avoid spreading bacteria to areas around the sink and counter tops.
  • When shopping in the store, storing food in the refrigerator at home, or preparing meals, keep foods that won’t be cooked separate from raw eggs, meat, poultry or seafood—and from kitchen utensils used for those products.
  • Consider using one cutting board only for foods that will be cooked (such as raw meat, poultry, and seafood) and another one for those that will not (such as raw fruits and vegetables).
  • Do not put cooked meat or other food that is ready to eat on an unwashed plate that has held any raw eggs, meat, poultry, seafood, or their juices.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to a safe internal temperature. To check a turkey for safety, insert a food thermometer into the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The turkey is safe when the temperature reaches 165°F. If the turkey is stuffed, the temperature of the stuffing should be 165°F.

  • Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating.
  • Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm. When making your own eggnog or other recipe calling for raw eggs, use pasteurized shell eggs, liquid or frozen pasteurized egg products, or powdered egg whites.
  • Don’t eat uncooked cookie dough, which may contain raw eggs.
  • Refrigerate leftovers and takeout foods—and any type of food that should be refrigerated, including pie—within two hours.
  • Set your refrigerator at or below 40°F and the freezer at 0°F. Check both periodically with an appliance thermometer.
  • Thaw frozen food safely in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave—never at room temperature. Cook food thawed in cold water or in the microwave immediately.
  • Allow enough time to properly thaw food. For example, a 20-pound turkey needs four to five days to thaw completely in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t taste food that looks or smells questionable. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Leftovers should be used within three to four days, unless frozen.

 Keep Your Family Safe From Food Poisoning…Check your steps at FoodSafety.gov

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Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Recently, FoodSafety.gov developed and published the following message about foods to avoid while pregnant.

foodsBecause pregnancy affects your immune system, you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that are in some foods and can cause foodborne illness. Even if you don’t feel sick, some “bugs” like Listeria and Toxoplasma can infect your baby and cause serious health problems. Your baby is also sensitive to toxins from the foods that you eat, such as mercury in certain kinds of fish.

Keep this checklist handy to help ensure that you and your unborn baby stay healthy and safe. Be sure to invest in a food thermometer to check the temperatures of cooked foods.

Don’t Eat These Foods Why What to Do
Soft CHEESES made from unpasteurized milk, including Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco May contain E. coli or Listeria. Eat hard cheeses, such as cheddar or Swiss. Or, check the label and make sure that the cheese is made from pasteurized milk.
Raw COOKIE DOUGH or CAKE BATTER May contain Salmonella. Bake the cookies and cake. Don’t lick the spoon!
Certain kinds of FISH, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (golden or white snapper) Contains high levels of mercury. Eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, and catfish.Limit consumption of albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week.
Raw or undercooked FISH (sushi) May contain parasites or bacteria. Cook fish to 145° F.
Unpasteurized JUICE or cider (including fresh squeezed) May contain E. coli. Drink pasteurized juice. Bring unpasteurized juice or cider to a rolling boil and boil for at least 1 minute before drinking.
Unpasteurized MILK May contain bacteria such as Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella. Drink pasteurized milk.
SALADS made in a store, such as ham salad, chicken salad, and seafood salad. May contain Listeria. Make salads at home, following the food safety basics: clean, separate, cook, and chill.
Raw SHELLFISH, such as oysters and clams May contain Vibrio bacteria. Cook shellfish to 145° F.
Raw or undercooked SPROUTS, such as alfalfa, clover, mung bean, and radish May contain E. coli or Salmonella. Cook sprouts thoroughly.

Be Careful with These Foods Why What to Do
Hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry May contain Listeria. Even if the label says that the meat is precooked, reheat these meats to steaming hot or 165° F before eating.
Eggs and pasteurized egg products Undercooked eggs may contain Salmonella. Cook eggs until yolks are firm. Cook casseroles and other dishes containing eggs or egg products to 160° F.
Eggnog Homemade eggnog may contain uncooked eggs, which may contain Salmonella. Make eggnog with a pasteurized egg product or buy pasteurized eggnog. When you make eggnog or other egg-fortified beverages, cook to 160°F
Fish May contain parasites or bacteria. Cook fish to 145° F.
Ice cream Homemade ice cream may contain uncooked eggs, which may contain Salmonella. Make ice cream with a pasteurized egg product safer by adding the eggs to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, then heating the mixture thoroughly..
Meat: Beef, veal, lamb, and pork (including ground meat) Undercooked meat may contain E. coli. Cook beef, veal, and lamb steaks and roasts to 145° F. Cook pork to 160° F. Cook all ground meats to 160° F.
Meat spread or pate Unpasteurized refrigerated pates or meat spreads may contain Listeria. Eat canned versions, which are safe.
Poultry and stuffing (including ground poultry) Undercooked meat may contain bacteria such as Campylobacter or Salmonella. Cook poultry to 165° F. If the poultry is stuffed, cook the stuffing to 165° F. Better yet, cook the stuffing separately.
Smoked seafood Refrigerated versions are not safe, unless they have been cooked to 165° F. Eat canned versions, which are safe, or cook to 165° F.

 

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Fun Ways to Keep Children Engaged This Summer

The following post is from Iris Yuan, an Education Consultant at Tutorspree.com, a marketplace for high-quality tutors across the country. Tutors at Tutorspree.com are highly-educated, experienced people who love what they’re doing. For more information, follow @Tutorspree on Twitter or e-mail iris@tutorspree.com. 

Helping children have fun does not mean they can’t be engaged, participating, and learning about the world around them. Below, we share tips and quotes from experienced tutors who’ve worked with children over the summer.

Juliette, a Spanish tutor in New York, says cooking is a great way to both learn and have fun. “Stash your children in the kitchen. Make up some at home cooking projects. There are many cookbooks out there that have recipes appropriate for children to help with and suited to their tastes as well.

Not only does cooking teach a life-long skill, it teaches children how to follow directions, be patient, organized, and clean up after themselves. It also makes children feel great to see that they can create something delicious! Furthermore, if children ever express being dissatisfied with the meals you prepare them, you can remind them about all that goes into creating a meal for a family. In order to make this type of project into a full day’s activity, first let your children make a list of necessary ingredients for the chosen recipe, then go to the market together with the children, and have them help you collect the groceries. This may even be a good opportunity to teach about prices and how to select what’s best.”

Another tip to getting young children interested in learning is to take library and museum trips together.

children

Many museums have kid-friendly areas with interactive activities. Your child may naturally be drawn to a certain area or subject, which you can build on later in the summer. Meanwhile, most libraries hold story times that are age-appropriate. When you’re at the library, be sure to show interest in the books yourself. Find a corner for quiet reading time and read to them, but also read to yourself, so that your child can learn by example.

Suzie, an experienced English tutor on the East Coast, tells us that “reading is easy. It’s portable. And maybe best of all, it’s subtle, sneaky learning. You learn while you aren’t even aware of it. Not only can it be a diversion on the beach, an alternative to “Boring! Not that again!?” TV, or a mental vacation on a hot afternoon, but reading also exposes new vocabulary, offers a variety of sentence structures, and painlessly proffers a proliferation of punctuation. All this without tests, worksheets, or quizzes.”

Finally, if learning school-related material is what you’re looking for, try in-home tutoring and teach some material yourself (but keep it fun!).

Aaron, a past Teach for America corps member, has been teaching for over ten years. He suggests that a great way to help children learn better is by using “positive sandwiches” when giving criticism. This means giving praise first before mentioning areas of improvement, and following up with another positive comment. “When feedback is ‘sandwiched’ between positive comments, problematic reactions are less likely,” says Aaron. “Learning doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. I also use funky colored pens or paper, stickers, jokes, and laughter in my lessons.”

Summertime alternatives to TV and video games are vast and many. Taking children out on trips, such as those mentioned above, and livening up the household with cooking and reading are just some of the ways to keep the summer brain drain at bay.

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Injury-Free Outdoor Cooking

 cookingIt’s that time again…time to move cooking outdoors.

Before you do, please compare your outdoor cooking practices with what Safe Kids USA recommends for keeping outdoor cooking accident and injury-free.

Cooking on a Top Grill

  • Grills should only be used outdoors and at least 10 feet away from a house or any building.
  • Do not use the grill in a garage, breezeway, carport, porch, or under a surface that can catch fire.
  • The grill should be placed well away from deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill area by declaring a 3-foot “kid-free” safety zone around the grill.
  • Grills should be kept clean by removing grease or fat buildup from the grill itself and in the trays below the grill.
  • Never leave a grill unattended.
  • Keep lighted cigarettes, matches, or open flames away from the grill.

Cooking on Charcoal Grills

  • If you use a starter fluid, use only charcoal starter fluid. Never add charcoal fluid or any other flammable liquids to the lit fire.
  • Never burn charcoal inside of homes, vehicles, tents, or campers. Charcoal should never be used indoors, even if ventilation is provided.
  • When you are finished grilling, let the coals completely cool before disposing in a metal container.
  • Since charcoal produces CO fumes until the charcoal is completely extinguished, do not store the grill indoors with freshly used coals.
  • Store charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources.

Cooking on Gas Grills

  • Check grill hoses for cracking, brittleness, holes, and leaks.
  • If you detect a leak, immediately turn off the gas and don’t attempt to light the grill until the leak is fixed.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when operating a gas grill.
  • Never start a fire with gasoline or other flammable products.

Cooking outside is a fun, warm -weather activity as long as you take safety precautions.

Happy Summer!

Source: Safe Kids USA

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5 Reasons to Cook and Bake with Your Kids

If you’re looking for ways to get your kids more involved then you need to look no further than the kitchen.

kids bakingSpending time together in the kitchen gives you a chance to not only prepare tasty meals and treats but also to teach them important lessons. Plus what kid doesn’t love to get their hands dirty?

Hesitant on including your kids in your cooking or baking? Here are five reasons why you should:

1.      Teaches the ins and outs of nutrition – Having your kids help you cook or bake is a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of nutrition and consuming a balanced diet full of plenty of lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. The obesity epidemic hinges largely on eating a lot of fast food and restaurant fare, and if you want to combat that in your own family then the first step is getting kids interested in cooking and having them understand the importance of healthy eating and good nutrition.

2.      It’s a math lesson in disguise  – Learning how to measure out ingredients and figure out serving sizes may seem like it’s just another component of cooking, but it’s actually teaching your kids valuable math lessons by rolling together fractions, addition, subtraction, etc. If you’re doubling up on a meal or scaling back on it you can get kids to figure out how much more or less of certain items they need to still get the correct measurements.

3.      Cooking and baking are mini science experiments – Why does spinach wilt in the microwave? How come banana bread rises in the oven? What happens when you combine certain ingredients together? Why do eggs become hardboiled eggs when they’re boiled? Every time you bake or cook something you’re essentially performing a small-scale science experiment in the form of food. Explain what’s happening during the cooking process and why certain things happen to sneak in a little science lesson during each cooking or baking experience.

4.      Encourages trying new foods– Kids are notoriously picky eaters; however including them in the cooking process can make them more open to trying new foods. The satisfaction they get from preparing a meal can be just what they need to propel them to actually eat the meal. Plus it gives you a chance to experiment together with different combinations until you find one that everyone can agree is delicious.

5.      It’s automatic quality time–Instead of hanging out watching TV or being holed up in their rooms playing video games you’ll have a rare moment where it’s just you and your kids working together and having fun. Neither you nor your kids will be focused on anything other than spending time with each other and making a great meal, and that is reason enough right there.

Cooking or baking with your kids gives you the unique opportunity to spend time together, save money, experiment in the kitchen, and expose them to new, healthy foods and recipes. They’ll take away more from those nights spent in the kitchen then they ever will playing on the computer or eating on the go.

About the AuthorThis guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger, editor & a knowledge gainer of  being full time nanny.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @ gmail.com.

 

 

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