Get Ready for the Next Storm

Broken power lines on a power pole.

There is much concern about the next hurricane’s arrival to the North Carolina coast.   Residents far inland can also be affected by strong winds that can cause trees and power poles to fall. Loss of power can affect many, and be detrimental if you use your freezer for food storage, so prepare now.

Here are food safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
  • A full freezer will keep the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full) if the door remains closed. If you have space in your freezer, fill sealable plastic containers about 2/3 full of water and place in freezer NOW to provide insulation if the power goes out.
  • If you are able, stock up on “no cook” food items for your family.
  • If you plan to eat refrigerated or frozen meat, poultry, fish or eggs while it is still at safe temperatures, it’s important that each item is thoroughly cooked to its proper temperature to assure that any foodborne bacteria that may be present are destroyed. However, if at any point the food was above 40 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 hours or more – discard it.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables with water from a safe source before eating.
  • For infants, try to use prepared, canned baby formula that requires no added water. When using concentrated or powdered formulas, prepare with bottled water if the local water source is potentially contaminated.

Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk and eggs that are not kept adequately refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed, even when they are thoroughly cooked.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service has a helpful website full of information.

Get Ready!

Jayne

July is National Grilling Month

Nothing says “summertime” quite like grilling out! Having a cookout or barbecue in the summer is a great way to connect with your friends and family, play outdoor games, and enjoy each other’s company. While we often think of meat like hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken when we grill, you can also try grilling fruits and vegetables!

Grilling fruit brings out fruits’ natural sweetness. Try grilling fresh fruit like pineapple, peaches, pears, watermelon, apples, and mango. Canola oil has a mild flavor and makes a good choice for brushing on fruit when you’re grilling to ensure it doesn’t stick to the grill. You can cut fruit like peaches and apples in half for grilling. Grilled pineapple cut in rings is great served over fish. Serve grilled fruit with low-fat frozen yogurt for a delicious dessert sure to please the whole crowd!

Grilled vegetables have a distinct flavor, which might make children (and adults!) more willing to try them, so a cookout is a great time to explore new vegetables! To grill fresh vegetables, rinse the vegetables under running water. Chop vegetables into large chunks. If you’d like, you can put vegetables on grilling skewers. Brush vegetables with oil and seasoning or a marinade of your choice, such as this Olive Oil Lemon Marinade. Turn vegetables once during grilling and brush with additional oil and seasonings or marinade to ensure they stay moist and flavorful.

Vegetables like bell peppers, mushrooms, corn, summer squash/zucchini, tomatoes, and onions are popular grilling choices, but you can also grill other vegetables like artichokes, asparagus, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, green beans, potatoes, and turnips. 

Tell us what your family thinks of any grilled fruits and vegetables you try!

-Cara Mowery

Preparing a Safe Turkey Dinner

If you are preparing for Thanksgiving, or just making a turkey, it is always good to follow food safety procedures and to make sure you know exactly what you’re doing. It is important to always use a food thermometer to make sure that the temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit so that bacteria that can cause foodborne sickness are reduced. There are lots of things that can determine the roasting time of the entire turkey which is how frozen it is, how the evenly the oven heats, if the turkey is stuffed, what type of a pan you use if it has a lid, and how the turkey fits in the pan. These things can all affect the time it takes for the turkey to cook and should be assessed prior to cooking.

When roasting a turkey, it is standard procedure to set the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The oven does not need to be preheated to do this. Another great and important tip is to make sure that the turkey is completely thawed before cooking it. A temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below is acceptable. Also, placing the turkey with the breast facing up on a flat wire rack is best for roasting a turkey. Putting it in a roasting pan that is 2-2½ inches deep is recommended. Make sure to tuck the tips of the wings under the shoulders of the turkey and add a half-cup of water to the bottom of the pan for moisture. You can put a tent of aluminum foil over the breast during the first hour or so and remove it or you can choose to wait until it is a golden brown to place the tent.

For the best practice of food safety, cooking the stuffing separate from the turkey is recommended. If you do choose to stuff your turkey, make sure that the stuffing has already been mixed together and do not stuff it too tightly. Additional time will be added for stuffed turkeys for these things to cook inside. To make sure the turkey is safe, make sure to measure the internal temperature and that it is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. When you take it out of the oven, let the turkey cool for 20 minutes before carving the turkey or removing the stuffing from it. Enjoy your turkey this Thanksgiving knowing that it is food safe and good to eat!

Written by:    Taylor Davis, Volunteer

For more information on turkey temperatures and food safety visit this website:

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/poultry-preparation/turkey-basics-safe-cooking/CT_Index

Food Safety: Are We Making These Mistakes?

We know that food safety isn’t something to take lightly in your home. In fact, some of our simple mistakes can be much more dangerous than we think.

In an article posted on FoodSafety.gov, some of our biggest food safety mistakes are highlighted.

For instance, do you wash meat or poultry? What about eat raw dough, cookie dough, or other foods with uncooked eggs or uncooked flour?

To read all the common mistakes, read the full article here: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/mistakes/index.html .

Picnic Safety

Summer has officially arrived! Like many of you, I like spending time outdoors especially having cookouts, picnics and other activities centered around food. Good food, fun, and family are my summer favorites. But before planning any outdoor food activity, here are a few simple tips to consider to ensure that unwanted bacteria won’t have a place at the table.

Wash Hands Often Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces often. Also, make sure your cooler is clean.

Keep Raw Meats, Poultry, Seafood and Eggs and Ready-to- Eat Foods Separate
Bring extra plates — one for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Don’t reuse marinade used on raw meat or poultry unless boiled.
Properly packing a cooler can help reduce cross-contamination that might lead to food poisoning.

Cook to Proper Temperatures
Cook your favorite foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer; hamburger to at least 160°F and chicken breasts to 165°F.
Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.

Refrigerate Promptly below 40°F
Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40°F.
Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of in your hot trunk.
Remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill.
Defrost meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator before taking them to the grill.
Don’t leave food outside in hot weather (90°F or above) for more than one hour.

Enjoy!

Stephanie

Stephanie is an Extension Associate for NC EFNEP.

Source: http://www.eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/outdoor-dining/keep-your-picnic-safe

 

Food-Themed Calendar For Summer

Getting ready for summer can mean plenty of things such as buying sunscreen, bathing suits, and shorts. But getting ready for summer can also mean looking at a monthly food calendar as well. There are national food days along with national food weeks and months.

Egg day is June 3 and there are many ways to celebrate and create your own recipes. There are deviled eggs recipes, egg salad sandwich recipes that enhance flavor, ham and egg frittatas, microwave omelets and scrambled eggs, and even tips on preparing eggs. These recipes and tips are useful in helping people avoid making a green ring around a hard-boiled egg, how to make homemade ice cream without raw eggs in it, and how to crack the date code on egg cartons. These tips and techniques are very helpful, especially on Egg Day, June 3.

Cheese Day is June 4th and is celebrated by making easy black beans and cheese quesadillas, vegetable cheese quesadillas, and spaghetti pie. There are multiple ways to use cheese in various recipes and there are also tips on how to freeze different types of cheeses, what the best types of cheeses are to freeze, how cheese is made, and even how it can be used for healthy eating.

A day kids and parents can enjoy together will be June 7 which is Chocolate Ice Cream Day. Kids will have fun helping parents make old-fashioned chocolate ice cream and can even learn how to make homemade ice cream without using raw eggs. This is very useful, especially if a family is vegan or does not eat eggs. This could also be useful if they wanted to cut down on egg consumption as well.

A fun way to spice things up on June 10 is by adding herbs and spices for flavor in foods without the added calories! There are many healthy cooking recipes that involve fresh herbs and since herbs are in season in the springtime, it is a great way to enjoy the flavor of foods. Not only do herbs and spices add flavor, but they can also be combined with different types of foods. There are herb and food combination charts and seasoning mixes to make for Herb & Spices Day as well.

For those who are new to cooking and who have been making attempts, there is even a day for you! Kitchen Klutzes of America day is June 13 and this day is dedicated to anyone who has made a mess in the kitchen. There are multiple lessons to make recipes successful and to make sure it is not a recipe for disaster. There are even newsletters including easy to-do recipes for kids as well.

Newsletters about physical activity are also available to these kitchen klutzes and how to get involved in some family fun on the run.

For veggie lovers, June 17 is national Eat Your Vegetables Day. There are tips and tricks on how to add more vegetables to your day and for help eating vegetables along with quick, easy recipes that make vegetables taste great. Making baked kale chips, black bean & corn salsa, foil-baked veggies, roasted baby carrots with garlic, vegetable pasta salad, and roasted broccoli and red peppers are all great ways to make the flavor of your vegetables pop! These are great recipes and easy ways to incorporate higher vegetable consumption, which will benefit health-wise. For those who love the outdoors, International Picnic Day is June 18. This is a great way to get outside and celebrate the beautiful weather. There are grilling tips on how to grill meats and vegetables properly and since Herbs & Spices Day has taught you ways on how to season, this would be a great opportunity to put that to use while grilling meats or veggies. There are also resources to use for practicing good food safety while having a delicious picnic as well. Keeping foods fresh and in the right temperature is highly important.

The First Day of Summer is June 20th and a great way to celebrate is by hosting a family and friends barbecue. Knowing barbecue safety practices will help things go smoothly. Cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling the meats properly will make the barbecue twice as delicious and fun. If you and the kids decide to go camping, there are even ways to eat healthy in the wilderness. Making foil packet potatoes on a camping trip could really bring the family together. There are also ways to handle food safely on the road and practice good food safety that way as well, such as planning ahead by bringing a cooler

Men’s Health Week is June 13th-June 19th Men’s Health Week is established for the purpose of raising the awareness of preventable health issues and the diagnoses and treatment of disease in boys and men. This week leads up to Father’s Day and educational newsletters are available online. There is also a Men’s Health Month as well.

There are many months and times to be celebrated such as Beef Steak Month, Dairy Month, Ice Tea Month, Vegetable and Fresh Fruit Month, Papaya Month, and Turkey Lover’s Month. There are recipes for each month available online and tips and tricks for these as well. For more information on how to celebrate the national food days, weeks, and months, visit the site listed in the references.

Taylor Davis

Taylor is a student intern working with EFNEP at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Pitt County Center.

Source: For more information on daily, weekly, or monthly food calendars and recipes, check out this site :http://food.unl.edu/june-food-calendar#summer