Archive for ‘Motivation’

September 9, 2019

Please Don’t Kiss the Chickens!

Please don’t kiss the chickens! Not only do we have a new rooster in the neighborhood, the CDC has warned me not to kiss it. As if I would. I know better. I grew up on a farm. I do not kiss chickens or play with piglets when the mother is around. An angry sow targeted me for death when I was three. I barely escaped and I still remember it. That was enough piglet playing for me.

Most of us are aware we should be careful when cooking eggs or chicken, but we may not think twice before taking a cute photo of the kids kissing a baby chick. It is time to think twice.
chicken
On August 30th, the CDC issued an investigation notice regarding several multi-state outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry. At the time there were 1003 infections across 49 states resulting in 175 hospitalizations and 2 deaths. By now, there may be more.

Salmonella can cause mild, severe, or life threatening diarrhea depending on the person infected. Chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys can contaminate their feathers, feet, beaks, and environment with salmonella even when they appear healthy and clean. People can get sick from touching coops, cages, hay, soil, feed, water dishes, and anything else in the bird’s environment even if they don’t touch the birds.

What I learned on the farm is that animals are carriers of disease so certain rules must be followed. The boots we wore in the barn came off in the utility room so we didn’t track contaminated soil into the house. Even if we had worn gloves, hands were washed thoroughly when we came in and always before cooking or eating. We wore shoes in the yard if we had dogs.

We washed our vegetables and fruits as a matter of routine. I never saw my grandmother sample a tomato or a piece of lettuce without washing it first. When we picked apples, we weren’t allowed to eat them until we got home. Huckleberries, blackberries, and strawberries had the same rule. We never placed raw meat on the same surface as the vegetables we were prepping.

As a child, I did not pick up wild animals that were sick even if they were teeny tiny and cute. If I saw a bat or possum during the day, I stayed away out of caution. That doesn’t mean I was taught to be fearful. I walked through a line of honeybees every time I went down the driveway. I didn’t run if I saw a spider or a snake as long as I determined it wasn’t poisonous.

Today, there seems to be a disconnect from these common sense rules. I now live in the city where if it’s cute most folks I know will let their kids pick it up and kiss it with no thought whatsoever. They’ll eat berries out of the farmer’s market crate without cleaning hands or fruit. But if they see a snake, bee, spider, or wasp of any kind, they run without ever looking to see whether it’s dangerous.

And there are other disconnects. Some friends who will only buy organic vegetables are quick to use wasp spray on their houses, insect spray on their skin, and Roundup® on their yards.
chickens
Perhaps a few common sense rules for disease prevention bear repeating:

Always wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water:
(Adults should supervise the hand washing of young children.)
Before eating and after using the bathroom.
After changing diapers or cleaning your toddler’s bottom.
Before preparing food, during food preparation after handling meat, eggs, poultry, fish, and seafood and again when food prep is done.
Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
Before and after visiting a hospital room.
After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing or cleaning a child’s nose.
After touching animals, animal food, animal waste, animal blankets, saddles, leashes, bedding, or hay.
After handling pet food or pet treats.
After touching trash.

To prevent spread of colds, flu, stomach viruses, hand foot & mouth disease and other illness spread through close contact:
Do not share cups and eating utensils.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home (including toys), at work, and at school.
Follow hand washing recommendations and/or use hand sanitizer after contact with public handrails, door knobs, touchscreens, pens, shopping carts, elevators, remotes, vending machines, and shared keyboards and phones.
Stay home when you are sick.
Keep your child home when he is sick.
As often as possible, avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth especially when you are around someone who has a cold or flu.

To lessen the risk of giardia, cryptosporidium, campylobacter jejuni, E. coli, legionella pneumophila, hepatitis A, and salmonella:
Do not drink water from standing bodies of water or any water that may be contaminated with feces.
Try not to swallow water when swimming even in chlorinated pools.
Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
Follow hand washing recommendations.
Follow USDA recommendations for safe food handling.
Cook meat to the recommended temperature.
Pay attention to food recalls.
Keep farm animals out of the house.
Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.
Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for animals such as cages and feed or water containers.
Don’t eat after your pets.

Avoid hookworms by:
Wearing shoes when walking outdoors, especially in places that may have feces in the soil.

To avoid hepatitis B, rotavirus, diphtheria, whooping cough, pneumococcal infections, measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, polio, chickenpox, meningitis, and HPV:
Stay up-to-date on long-lasting vaccinations and consider seasonal flu shots.

To lessen the risk of rabies:
Vaccinate your pets.
Leave stray cats and dogs alone.
Leave wild animals alone. Don’t keep them as pets.
Wash animal bites and scratches immediately with soap and water.
Consult a healthcare professional if you are bitten or scratched by an unvaccinated animal.

To lessen the risk of any illness:
Keep your body healthy, robust, and ready to fight disease by getting plenty of sleep, drinking plenty of fluids, eating nutritious food, being physically active, and managing stress levels.

And finally, it’s worth taking a moment to learn about the organisms with whom we share the planet. All spiders and bees are not to be feared and all furry creatures are not safe to embrace. If you’re determined to kill all insects anyway, please remember that poison is poison whether it goes on your skin, your yard, or your food.

If you want to choose a single piece of advice to help prevent disease, take it from the CDC and please don’t kiss the chickens!

https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-05-19/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/food-safety/live-poultry-salmonella/live-poultry-salmonella.html

https://www.cdc.gov/features/handwashing/index.html

https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/basics-for-handling-food-safely/ct_index

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/?s=safety/

Holiday Baking – Keep it Safe!

December 11, 2018

Always Keep Kitchen Safety in Mind

When you’re preparing food, it’s important to always keep kitchen safety in mind. Where else in the house do you get to play with sharp objects, open flames, boiling liquids, cans under pressure, and countless amounts of breakable glass? In contrast to the rest of the house, the kitchen is a perpetual accident waiting to happen.

I feel like I’m pretty aware of safety when I’m working in the kitchen, but I am constantly reminded of yet another hazard by an OMG moment! Grandchildren in the kitchen have added yet another layer of awareness.
kit safety
Here are a few safety tips from my kitchen…

Knives

Beyond the obvious keep knives away from fingertips warning, don’t be tempted to leave knives lying on the countertop. This is hard for me. I will chop something on a cutting board, then lay a knife across it because I plan to use it again after I’ve done a few other things. I know the knife is there, how dangerous can it be?

Well, having almost stabbed my foot with a falling knife I’d accidentally jostled a couple of months ago, I’d say pretty dangerous. I was grateful I’d had Stop the Bleed training. I also became keenly aware how difficult it would be to use that training on myself.

I know not to leave sharp or breakable objects on the counter when my grandchildren are around. A curious 18-month-old may reach above his head and swipe his hand across the countertop to see what he can find. He also may reach for a knife from your knife block if it is visible. Luckily, my grandson warned me that he was about to pull a knife out by telling me he needed one for the dish he was “cooking” on his stove. My knife block no longer resides at the end of the counter.
knife
Flames

I’ve narrowly escaped burning dish towels and sleeves by failing to notice until the last minute how close they were to the flames on the burner. In general, long flared sleeves may be adorably cute on you, but they’re a really bad idea to wear as cooking fashion. In the same vein, a dish towel may be the most handy potholder, but if you leave any part of it dangling, it can touch a dancing flame before you know it.

And don’t even get me started on paper towels near the stove. Fry some chicken, cover a plate in paper towels, hold that plate above and to the side of the skillet when you remove the chicken to drain on the paper towels. Sounds like reasonable instructions, right?

The instructions aren’t bad, they’re just not complete. They should include a caution to make sure NO paper towel extends beyond the edge of the plate and that the flame is turned low enough that it doesn’t extend past the edge of your frying pan. If you need the flame higher than that to maintain the proper oil temperature, it’s probably best not to hold the plate so that you know it’s sitting a safe distance away from the flame.

Also, don’t be tempted to wipe that drip off the top of the stove just behind the burner while it’s on. You’ll have to reach your arm over or around a very hot pot near a very hot burner most likely with something wet in your hand that won’t protect fingers from heat. That’s too much risk for the amount of time it will save you later. Of course I know this is a bad idea because I’ve done it.

Always keep a fire extinguisher charged and handy just in case flames get out of hand. Mine lives under my kitchen sink. If you happen to have a small grease fire in a pan, turn off the burner, smother the fire with a metal lid or baking sheet, baking soda, or salt. Do not throw water or flour on the fire. Do not cover the pan with glass or pottery. Do not try to carry the pan outside.

Pot Holders and Dish Towels

We just touched on one downside of using a dish towel as a potholder, but it’s also good to remember that a damp or wet towel will not provide insulation from heat. Any towels or potholders should be dry before grabbing a hot handle.

Dish towels may have to be folded multiple times to be thick enough to protect your hand. This can result in a wiggly (technical term) grip. Heavy skillets like those made from cast iron increase the risk a wiggly grip poses.

I use my pot holders so much, they get thin in the middle. I usually discover this when I grip a skillet of cornbread and start to lift it out of the oven. The heat transfer is gradual, but over time I’ve learned when it feels hotter than it should in the first few seconds I should immediately put the skillet back down on the rack in the oven. Muscling through the heat to lift it to the counter is a D-U-M-B thing to do.

Storage

Don’t store anything in the oven that isn’t oven proof to the temperature you’d use to bake a frozen pizza. Sometimes I just need a quick place to hide something in the kitchen. Of course the oven works beautifully…until days later when I’ve totally forgotten the plastic tray in there and preheated the oven. Ugh, you get the picture. I actually preheated the oven this morning with a skillet & sheet pan in it. I do this on the regular, so I know I have to outsmart myself and only store oven proof things.

If you have pets, storing anything on the top of the stove can be risky. A former customer of mine put a basket on top of her stove to at night. One night while everyone was sleeping, her cat jumped on the stove to investigate. In the process, the cat’s foot turned on a burner starting a fire. Luckily, a smoke alarm awakened the family quickly, but the whole kitchen burned.

Having a system that tells you how long a bottle of olive oil, soy sauce, or maple syrup has been stored open in the pantry can prevent you from eating spoiled condiments. Of course, it’s good to do the same thing for the salad dressing, mayonnaise, pickles, jelly, and ketchup in the fridge. Discarding these in a timely manner (with hot sauce, timely means you have years to spare) is a great safety precaution.

I’ll admit my discard system is haphazard. When I’m testing recipes, I use everything so fast this isn’t an issue. When I’m cooking less, I periodically throw everything away that I can’t remember opening and start over. I’m about to have one of these purging sessions in my pantry.

Microwave

I’m sure you know not to put metal in the microwave. You may not know that putting a honey bear in there to heat up crystalized honey can result in serious burns. If heated too long, the bottle can explode when you remove it and you can end up covered in molten honey. This happened to a friend of mine, but a Reddit thread tells me it’s happened to others as well.

When James was about two, I microwaved a cup of water. I took it out of the microwave then had to go check on his crying baby brother. Before I left the room, I made sure the cup was toward the back of the counter where James couldn’t reach it. Being resourceful, James pulled a chair up to the counter, climbed up, got the cup and spilled a full cup of boiling water down the front of his shirt. It all happened in a matter of seconds.

James proceeded to run around the house screaming at the top of his lungs because his shirt was burning him. When I finally caught him, I grabbed the shirt and quickly pulled it off. The skin of his entire chest came off along with the shirt.

Yes, it looked as bad as it sounds and I’m sure it was as painful! After a visit to the doctor, we kept the wound clean and coated in Silvadene and it healed. The only scars left are in James’ memory and on my Mommy record.

Coffee

Unplug the coffee grinder before you use your finger to scrape out the grounds that didn’t fall into the lid. I mean it. Unplug the thing. More than once I’ve had coffee grinders come on unexpectedly and get stuck on. One of them was recalled because of this problem. I’ve seen plenty of otherwise smart people dig out grounds with the grinder plugged in. It makes me cringe each and every time.

Unplug the coffee maker when it’s not being used. I once watched my coffee maker shoot sparks into the kitchen. It was plugged in, but not turned on. The fact that I was there to see it (and prevent a fire) was a happy accident. I switched to a French press.

Timing

I use the timer on my stove, but it’s not very loud. If I’m leaving the kitchen, I know it’s a good idea to set a corresponding timer to carry with me. The one on my phone works great. I also have a stationary one on the desk in my home office.

It’s also a good idea to set a timer if you decide to chill a can of soda in the freezer. I rarely do this, but when I do, I consistently forget about that can for way too long. Usually I catch my error at the point the top of the can begins to bow out, but I have had to clean up the freezer after a can explosion. I can assure you that cleaning the freezer is not my idea of fun!

Other Things

-Read labels for allergens.
-Disinfect anything that touches raw meat.
-Use a meat thermometer to make sure meat reaches a safe temperature.
-Don’t eat raw eggs.
-Wash fruits and vegetables.
-Kiss Caesar salads goodbye for awhile. The romaine problem has gotten out of hand.
-Refrigerate leftovers in a timely manner.
-Turn pot and pan handles toward the center of the stove.
-Wipe spills up quickly so you won’t slip and fall.

Clothing Optional

I’m fine with you doing whatever you want to do in the nude, but this post is about safety in the kitchen. Soooo, don’t cook naked. Like ironing naked, it seems like a good idea until it’s not. By that point you’ll probably have frozen or burned something you really don’t want to freeze or burn. At least put on an apron. A simple apron with heels can be the perfect cooking outfit depending on the guest list.

Every cook I know burns themself at some point. Many cut a finger. Most of these injuries are minor. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea to have a watchful eye and always keep kitchen safety in mind when you’re having a kitchen adventure.

https://www.firerescue1.com/firefighter-training/articles/223446018-How-to-put-out-a-grease-fire/

https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/index.html

https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/make-the-kitchen-your-happy-place/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/pare-your-kitchen-down-to-the-basics/

November 26, 2018

New Life for Leftovers

This week is a good time to create a new life for leftovers. In general I don’t mind leftovers, but I have my limits. Once I’m tired of eating a particular holiday menu item, I like to repurpose it to make it palatable again. If I don’t, I’ll be tempted to throw away perfectly good food.

Leftover plans have to be flexible because I never know exactly what will be eaten, what will be taken home by my family, and what will stay in my refrigerator. When incorporating leftovers into other dishes, I just work from a general framework and make things up as I go.

Turkey quickly becomes a turkey/avocado/bacon wrap using gluten-free tortillas or paleo wraps. Sometimes I go full turkey club by adding tomato, lettuce, and cheese to the wrap.

If you have leftover turkey and gravy, it’s easy to make creamed turkey on toast. It’s the same idea as chipped beef on toast and has that same retro feel of grandma’s kitchen.
corn
This year I ended up with lots of corn. I’m going to use it in Mexican cornbread, but I could make corn/potato chowder or corn casserole. I could also include it along with other veggies in a frittata. Frittatas are always an easy, delicious, gluten-free way to repurpose cooked vegetables.

If you have too much stuffing, consider turning it into a bottom crust for shepherd’s pie. If you have them, the filling can be made with leftover turkey, vegetables, and gravy. If you don’t, create a filling using breakfast sausage, green peas, and a little sour cream. Top off either version with mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes before baking.

Winter weather often accompanies the holidays making warm, cozy soup an appealing option. Mashed potatoes and gravy can become the base for a thick, creamy soup. Corn and green beans can be incorporated into vegetable soup.

Fresh cranberry/orange relish makes the perfect topping for an almond torte. We always have extra relish. We all love it, but it’s not something you want to eat in large servings and it’s such a strong, tart flavor that it doesn’t always pair well with other strong flavors. On the other hand, its strong flavor enhances the mild flavor of the torte.

Last year, I used a leftover sweet potato to create a topping for panna cotta. It was so good everyone asked for it again this year! Here’s the recipe if you’d like to try it:

Sweet Potato Topping

1/2 cup cooked sweet potato
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp honey
Pinch of salt

Place sweet potato and maple syrup in food chopper or blender and purée until smooth. In medium skillet, melt butter. Add puréed sweet potato. Whisk in cream and honey and sprinkle with salt. Cook for a minute or two. Allow to cool.

I’m not sure why I thought to turn that sweet potato into topping, but I’m glad I did. That’s the great thing about creating new life for leftovers; you can end up with unexpectedly good food that would never have been thought of otherwise.

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/lighten/

November 5, 2018

I Can’t Wait for Grocery Delivery!

I can’t wait for grocery delivery! Creating and testing gluten-free recipes means I can never shop at just one store. I’d rather spend my time in the kitchen than traveling to and from the grocery or walking through the aisles. Building a favorites list online will allow me to spend a minimum amount of time shopping and get all of the basics delivered right to my door. I love that idea!
carts
In preparation for the eventuality of grocery delivery, I’ve been clicking and picking up. My primary concern before I began was the quality of produce. Even when I do the shopping, it’s frequently difficult to find high quality, fresh produce in our local stores. Nonetheless, I decided to dive in.

Of course I can have nonperishables shipped from Amazon any time. I’ve previously purchased things like paper towels and G.H. Cretors popcorn from them. I didn’t enjoy the experience of having to fill a pantry box in order to get free shipping. I hated the way the items were packaged when they arrived. And I had to make sure someone was available to check my porch so the boxes didn’t disappear. That’s not the experience I’m looking for.

Subscriptions work well for some items like coffee. In fact, Jim’s Organic just started a subscription service. I signed up the minute I got an email announcing subscription availability. But coffee is something on which I can easily gauge my usage. I’m not as methodical about my consumption of paper towels or cereal.

In my market, there are two stores that offer click and pick-up service – Kroger and Wal-Mart. I chose Wal-Mart because they have a plan for $10 delivery in the near future. Each time I order from the site, I build familiarity with the product selection and add to my favorites list.

Downloading the app means I don’t have to call upon arrival. Once I receive a notice that the order is ready, I check in from my phone when I’m on the way. When I arrive, the store is notified and brings out the order.

This means that I’m allowing the app to track my location. This can be a privacy concern. If so, there’s an option to receive notification via email, drive to the store location, and call the number listed on a sign found in each parking spot in the pick-up area.
produce
Last week I added sugar snap peas to a pickup order. That evening, I popped the package open, washed a few and ate them raw. I was pleasantly surprised! The peas were crunchy, tender, and sweet. They were the freshest, tastiest produce I’ve had all year. That worry I had about the quality of produce is beginning to wane.

I’m attending a film festival out of town. There’s nothing in my refrigerator at home besides butter, jelly, and pickle relish. This week will be the perfect time to add more produce to an order and see if the peas were a fluke. I hope not. A pattern of reliably fresh produce and the deal will be sealed! Online grocery shopping will become a regular thing for me.

When grocery delivery begins…score!!! I really can’t wait!

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/what-makes-a-grocery-store-great/

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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