For today’s blog post I would like to introduce myself as the newest member of the AnswerLine team. I am a native Iowan and graduated from Iowa State University in 1973 with a degree that was then called Home Economics Education. I taught in the public school system for 33 years before retiring.
I have been with AnswerLine for about a month and am enjoying working with the experienced ladies in the office who I learn so much from every day as well as talking to all of you who call in. Thank You for using AnswerLine! I have enjoyed helping with answers to your questions. You inspire me!
Are you planning a graduation party, baby shower, or family reunion? At AnswerLine, we get many calls from people working on menus or other party ideas. We are always glad to help you
Smorgasbord with a variety of choices
with your planning
If you have someone graduating, It isn’t too early to start thinking about your celebration. At Iowa State University, graduation is scheduled for May 6 and 7. High school graduation parties start in May and continue through early June. If you are planning some sort of gathering of family or a party for friends and family, we are happy to help answer any questions. We have lots of experience and resources that can help people know how much food will be needed for the celebration. We also have almost any color punch recipe you could want to serve.
Some of the questions we answer often for party planners:
- How much fruit do I need to buy to make fruit salad?
- How many potatoes will I need for potato salad?
- What size serving should I use for ______ food?
- Do I have enough food on my menu for my party of ____ people?
- How many servings do I need to feed _____ people?
- What food can I make ahead?
- How can I be sure not to run out of food?
- How do I keep my food safe for 2-3 hours?
Please call us. We love to help!
If your cell phone isn’t the “latest and greatest”, you are likely thinking about replacing it. If it is the “latest and greatest” you are probably wondering how to dispose of the old phone. According to the Federal Trade Commission, you have several choices.
The first thing you want to do is to remove all private and sensitive information that is on the phone. Old phone numbers, passwords, account numbers, voicemails, and text messages. It is important not to let anyone have access to your information.
Some devices have a “restore factory settings” option. If you do use this option, be sure that YOU have all the information, passwords, texts, and pictures that you want to keep before resetting your phone. Your owner’s manual or online owner’s manual may have detailed instructions for resetting your phone. Follow them carefully. You will also want to remove any apps that you downloaded to your phone. They too can contain sensitive information.
You may also need to remove or clear the SIM or SD card in your phone. Your provider may help you transfer the SIM card or the information on the card to your new phone. SD cards can hold pictures or other information that you would like to protect. You may need to remove both cards physically from the phone to be sure your information is protected.
Be sure to double check that you have, in fact, removed the date after your reset. Look at your
- phone book
- logs for both dialed and received calls
- sent and received emails and text messages
- downloads and other folders
- search histories
- personal photos
Now that your phone is “clean”. You have several options for disposal. The phone can be recycled or donated to a charitable group. Check with your phone carrier for options available locally.
Even the AnswerLine staff is not immune to accidents in the kitchen. I thought that I was being careful while draining a pan of sweet potatoes. I was using two silicone pot holders and thought I was gripping the pan well while draining off the cooking water. Unfortunately, I had cut the potatoes into small pieces and I was trying to make the opening between the pan and the lid a little narrower to avoid losing some of the potatoes in the sink. In a split second, the boiling water came streaming over my hand, scalding the back of it. I immediately ran the burn under cold water and iced the spot for a while. The burn was not a terribly deep or painful one, but it has been a great reminder to follow safe practices to avoid another burn in the future.
Here are some tips for avoiding burns from the US Fire Administration and FEMA:
- Prevent spills by using the back burner when possible. Always turn pot handles away from the stove’s edge.
- All appliance cords need to be kept coiled and away from counter edges.
- Use oven mitts or potholders when moving hot food from ovens, microwave ovens, or stovetops. Never use wet oven mitts or potholders as they can cause scald burns.
- Replace old or worn oven mitts.
- Young children are at high risk of being burned by hot food and liquids. Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a “kid-free zone” of 3 feet (1 meter) around the stove.
- Never hold a child while cooking, drinking, or carrying hot foods or liquids.
- When children are old enough, teach them to cook safely. Supervise them closely.
I do try to follow these tips when I’m cooking; because I have grandchildren that are often at my home. Taking a few minutes to review safety procedures is smart. It only took a split second of carelessness on my part to get a painful burn.
Have you ever wondered when you are cooking with alcohol how much is remaining in the foods that you are preparing? Many times people think that when alcohol is heated it disappears, but that is not the case. Some alcohol does burn off during cooking but it depends on when it was added, how much was added, and how long the food cooks. Cooked food can retain from 5-85 percent of the alcohol that was added. When alcohol is added to uncooked foods, the alcohol content remains the same. The longer a food is cooked the less alcohol remains in it. This chart listed below shows the percentage of alcohol burnt off when foods are cooked.
If you would prefer to not add alcohol to your recipes there are some options. Wines and Liquors do add a depth of flavor to recipes that can’t be always be matched, but there are several things that you can try. For more specific advice use this chart from the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. They have a very complete list of substitutions.
All of us have those times when money is tight. Unexpected expenses or loss of a job seems to happen to everyone. Sometimes we are in the position of deciding which bills to pay and which ones to let go a bit longer.
If you find that you need to delay paying your credit card bills, call the credit card company. Many creditors are willing to help you when you have an emergency. You don’t even need to be behind on payments to ask for help.
If you ignore the problem the card company may raise your interest rates, raise your minimum payments or charge you a late fee. You may even damage your credit score or lose your credit card.
Here are some tips from the Consumer financial Protection Bureau that can help if you find yourself unable to pay even the minimum on a credit card balance.
- Look at your current income and expenses. Try to find ways to cut costs. If you can’t find enough “extra” money to pay the minimum balance, decide what you can afford to pay.
- Call the credit card company and explain the circumstances, tell them what you can afford to pay, and let them know when you expect to resume the normal payments.
- You may want to consider credit counseling. There are some non-profit credit counseling organizations that can help you learn more about handling money.
If you do choose to use credit counseling, be sure to ask if there is a charge for counseling. Find out the cost and what services you will get from the company. Make sure the counselor takes the time to learn about your financial situation and helps you learn to make better choices.
Remember that it is best to face the problem instead of just hoping that things will get better. A phone call and discussion with the credit card company will take some of the stress out of this situation.
This time of year callers are often preparing their homes for graduations, first communions, and wedding showers. We often get calls about removing spots from carpeting. The resource we use at AnswerLine for carpet cleaning is the Carpet and Institute’s Spot Solver.
Their experts advise creating a schedule to vacuum you carpets. If the soil is removed from the surface before it is crushed into the carpet it is much easier to remove. It is best to vacuum slowly; covering an area about four times. This helps remove dust, pollen, and pet dander, too. It is best to vacuum at least once a week, but higher traffic areas may need to be vacuumed more often. If you have a pet or children that track in a lot of dirt, you may want to vacuum daily. You should plan to vacuum medium traffic areas at least twice a week.
The Carpet and Rug Institute experts also recommend that you treat stains promptly. Even though most carpet sold today is stain resistant, carpet spills and stains happen to all of us. Act quickly when a stain happens. Scoop or blot up the staining material. Remember not to scrub as that can cause damage to carpet fibers. Treat the stain with the solution recommended by the Carpet and Rug Institute. If you don’t have any of those solutions, remember that plain water is often effective.
In spite of your best efforts there are some spots you may not be able to remove. In that case, you may want to call in a professional. The Carpet and Rug Institute suggests having the carpets in your home cleaned professionally every 12 to 18 months. You may want to get bids from several cleaning services. A good carpet cleaning should include vacuuming, pre-spraying, and spot removal.
These tips should help you keep your carpeting looking and feeling like new.
I like to make my own egg noodles when I am making a casserole. It seems to add a whole new dimension to an old family recipe. The recipe is really pretty easy. It doesn’t take too long, especially if you have one of these noodle makers.
Simply mix together these ingredients in a large bowl:
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
- 2 eggs
Turn them out onto a floured surface and knead gently until the dough sticks together.
Cut the dough into four equal sized pieces. Flatten and roll through the widest setting on the noodle maker. Fold the dough in half and roll again. Repeat this step a third time. Now set the roller distance at the next higher setting. Roll once and then set the roller distance higher (thinner/more narrow). After the third rolling, lay the long strips on a flat surface and cut into manageable lengths. The length of the noodles is determined by the size of these pieces.
Now roll the noodle dough through the cutters. At this point, you can either place the dough into boiling water to cook the noodles or allow the noodles to dry a bit before freezing the raw noodle dough. My daughter likes to make 3 batches of noodles when she makes noodles. That allows her one batch for the recipe she is making for dinner that night and two batches to put in the freezer. The noodles can go directly from the freezer to the boiling water. This is an easy convenience food to have on hand for those nights you need a quick supper.
As long as your child or other family member has a food allergy, you will need to avoid that food. Sometimes that is easier said than done. You will need to become someone who reads every food label and is extra vigilant if the allergy is severe.
Here are some tips for living with allergies:
- Read the label before buying food at the grocery store. Allergens are listed at the end of the ingredient label. People that are very sensitive should avoid foods that state “may have been processed on equipment that processed some other allergen”.
- Look at restaurant menus on line before you leave home. You may find options that work well with the dietary restrictions. You may also find hidden ingredients in foods you might not suspect. Some fast food French fries contain dairy. I know that surprised me when we discovered it.
- Let your server know the dietary restrictions. They may be aware of how the food is prepared and can help with any possible cross contamination issues. They may also be aware of substitutions that the restaurant has on hand for allergies.
- Avoid buffet or family style settings as there may be cross contamination issues. When many people serve themselves it is easy for someone to use the serving utensil from one pan in another pan.
- Fried foods may be a problem as the same oil may be used to fry many different foods.
- Make sure that your child’s school is aware of the allergy. If the allergy is severe, make sure that the school is prepared to help your child in the event of a severe reaction. Many schools now have a policy of outlawing peanut butter and homemade treats to keep everyone safe.
- Work with other families that have the same food restrictions; sometimes they are aware of products that work well as substitutions or you may buy some foods in bulk and share with them.
This information is really just a basic introduction to food allergies. Work with your doctor and a dietitian to help your child lead the best, safest life.
Food allergies are something that we seem to hear about often. It seems like they affect so many different things; from eating at a restaurant, to food for school treats, to a child’s birthday party. Is it really an issue, or is it just a fad that will disappear soon? We sometimes have callers frustrated that the menu or treat they have planned is not acceptable just because one guest or child claims to have an allergy. One caller wanted to serve peanuts at a large bridal shower but was frustrated because people told her she couldn’t as the bride had a severe peanut allergy. She didn’t know what the “big deal” was; the bride should just not eat the peanuts. We discussed the possibility that if a child may handle some peanuts and later hug and kiss the bride. We explained that the risk to the bride for accidental exposure was too great and that peanuts must be eliminated from the menu. After all, who wants to get the bride sick at her own party?
Food allergies are simply a child or person’s immune reaction to a food. The person must have had some exposure or eaten the food previously to exhibit an immune reaction. Most food allergies are caused by one of these eight foods:
- Tree nuts
Peanuts, milk, and eggs are the most common foods causing allergies. Some children may outgrow an allergy; other allergies are lifelong.
Symptoms of the allergy may begin within a few minutes of exposure to the food. Other reactions may occur after a longer period—an hour or so. The symptoms may include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Lowered blood pressure
Sometimes very young children or infants may be allergic to soy or milk. Usually colic or fussiness, poor growth, or blood in the stool are signs of this allergy. It does not take much of a particular food to cause a bad reaction in a person that is highly allergic.
Food allergies can’t really be prevented; however, delaying feeding solid foods to children for the first 6 months can help. Avoid feeding wheat, eggs, peanuts, fish, and cow’s milk during baby’s first year. If it is possible, try to breast feed for the first 6 months.
There is no medicine to give a child to prevent food allergy, work with your doctor if you suspect a food allergy. Avoid those foods causing the allergy. Your doctor may advise using vitamins if your child’s diet is very limited. You may need to avoid those same foods if you are breast feeding. Small amounts of the allergen may be passed through the milk. If your child has severe allergies, your doctor may prescribe an emergency kit with an epinephrine pen.