Thursday, April 18, 2013

Summer Food Safety

This warm weather means that grilling season is upon us. Preparing and eating food outdoors is enjoyable, and we all want to do it safely. I know you are all aware of safety issues with meats and outdoor cooking, but sometimes it’s good to have a little refresher course.

I’ve been getting out a few grilling cookbooks to look over in the hopes of finding something new and exciting to cook this summer. It is just too easy to throw on a few hamburgers or hot dogs…..I want to experiment a bit more this year.

Of those I have out are Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue, published by Scribner in 2002. This book has everything from appetizers to desserts, with quite a few sauce, marinade and rub recipes. It also includes grilling hints and tips.

The second book is Reynolds Cooking with Foil, a spiral-bound book published in 2006. It is full of grilling and packet-cooking recipes, as well as some that can be prepared in the oven. I have prepared one recipe from this book several times – Honey Glazed Salmon – and it’s delicious.

The third cookbook sitting here on my desk is an older one. It’s Better Homes & Gardens Barbecues and Picnics. When I say older – think 1963! There are quite a few good recipes here.

Here are a few hints and tips:

1) Wrap and refrigerate or freeze meats as soon as possible after bringing them home. If you won’t be using ground meats or poultry in a day or two, freeze them.

2) Thaw meats in the refrigerator or microwave – never on the counter.

3) Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.

4) Always wash hands and utensils thoroughly after handling meat.

5) Cook meat to the proper temperature to avoid illness. These are temps given by the USDA:

Beef – 145 degrees
Ground Meats – 160 degrees
Pork – 145 degrees
Poultry – 185 degrees

Meats will continue to cook a few minutes after removing from the heat, which would increase the inner temperature.

6) Throw out that marinade – don’t reuse it. Make a fresh batch to serve with the cooked meat.

7) Let meats stand 10 to 20 minutes before cutting. This lets the juices redistribute throughout the meat, avoiding a dry piece of meat.

8) When grilling, do not pierce the meats with a fork. This allows juices to run out. Use a spatula or tongs to move the meat. And don’t move it too much. 

9) When removing cooked meat from the grill, be sure to put it on a clean dish or pan. Never put cooked meat on a dish that raw meat was in. 

Let’s all look forward to those cookouts, picnics and family reunions this summer. Have fun, but always think about safety, too.
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Happy “National Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day”! Did any of you do it? I could have since I work at home, but was up and dressed before I realized I didn’t have to be.
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“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.”
Erma Bombeck
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

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