Happy Thanksgiving from the AnswerLine staff
Enjoy time spent with family and friends.
Have you ever thought about deep frying a turkey? It gives you very tender meat with a nice crispy texture, but in order to keep yourself and your food safe you need to follow some precautions.
By following these precautions your guests will enjoy a juicy turkey and you will have a safe Thanksgiving!
If you have not done so already, it is probably time to start thinking about thawing your turkey. There are three different ways to thaw your turkey, four if you count cooking it from the frozen state.
The first method is thawing the turkey in the refrigerator. This is perhaps the easiest method. It is best to put the turkey on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator in a pan or cookie sheet. This will prevent drippings from the thawing bird contaminating other foods; especially ready to eat foods like fruits and vegetables. Expect the turkey to thaw at a rate of 5 pounds for every 24 hours. Plan to have the turkey thawed for no more than 2 days before cooking. If you find your turkey thawing much faster than expected, you can refreeze overnight then continue thawing. We never advise just setting the bird on a counter top for thawing.
Refrigerator Thawing Times
If you suddenly realize you were supposed to begin thawing the turkey several days ago and find yourself running out of time to thaw it, use the cold water thawing method. For this method, you will need to allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey. Be sure the turkey is in a leak-proof plastic bag; this keeps the turkey from absorbing water. Place the turkey in a sink full of cold water. Change the water every half hour—the water will get very cold—until the turkey is thawed.
Cold Water Thawing Times
Not enough time for the cold water method? Try defrosting in your microwave. Follow the directions that came with your microwave. Plan to cook it immediately as the turkey may have developed hot spots while defrosting.
Call us at AnswerLine if you have further questions about getting that turkey thawed.
One of the questions we are asked a lot before Thanksgiving is “Do I need to refrigerate my pumpkin pie or not?” Probably the main reason for the confusion is seeing all the pumpkin pies at the grocery store just sitting on the shelves—stored at room temperature. The main difference between the grocery store bakery pies and the ones that you make at home is the ingredients. Those bakery pies are made with shelf-stable ingredients which can include preservatives and anti-microbials that won’t allow the growth of bacteria. If you read the label on the pie you may see a notation of RT; indicating the pie can be stored at room temperature. Leftover pieces of these pies should be stored in the refrigerator. Remember to use the pie within 2-3 days. If you need to store it for a longer time, consider freezing the pie.
When you make your own pie from scratch, you should refrigerate it as soon as it has had a chance to cool. Homemade pies have ingredients like milk and eggs which provide a great medium for bacterial growth. If you prefer a warm piece of pie, you can always warm the pie just prior to serving.
It’s time to start thinking about your Thanksgiving meal! If you are in charge of the turkey here are some safety tips if you plan on stuffing your turkey.
According to the Iowa Energy Center the average Iowa family spends more than half of its annual household energy bill on heating and cooling. You can greatly reduce this number by doing some caulking around your doors and windows. Filling the gaps and cracks around windows and doors can make a difference in utility bills as well as helping to keep unwanted pests out of your house.
To caulk, the first step is to clean away any of the old caulk from the area. Apply the new caulk to a dry surface. There are many different types of caulk available. Some are for indoor use only while others are for outdoors, some are paintable while others are not. Be sure to read the labels and choose the caulk that will adhere to the surface you are sealing. Most caulks are applied with a caulking gun for easy application. Simply cut about ½ inch off the end of the tip at a 45° angle and use a nail to puncture the seal. Lay a uniform bead that covers both sides for a good seal. You can use a dampened finger to smooth it out if needed. If the opening is more than ¼ inch you may need a backing material added before caulking or use a spray foam sealer instead. After you are finished if you have caulk remaining in the tube the nail can serve as a cap for the unused amount.
Some other places that you should check for air leaks include dryer vents, faucet pipes, electric outlets, chimneys, and the foundation sill. Taking care of these projects can extend the life of your home, lower your utility costs and make your home more comfortable in both the summer and winter!
If you are looking for more detailed information on caulking and winterizing throughout your house the Home Tightening, Insulation and Ventilation publication from the Iowa Energy Center will give you more detailed guidance.
Thanksgiving without cranberry sauce is hard to imagine for some people. If you are feeling adventurous this year you may want to try something new. The cranberry is a very versatile fruit and in season now.
When you are shopping for cranberries, choose full, firm berries that are dark red or red and yellow in color. Cranberries that are soft, shriveled, and have dark spots should be avoided. Store them in the refrigerator when you bring them home from the store. The crisper drawer will help you keep them fresh for 3-4 weeks. You can also freeze the berries until you are ready to use them. Wash the berries just prior to cooking. Discard any shriveled or damaged berries. Cranberries can be eaten raw or cooked. You can also add them to breads and muffins. Plan to stock up now while they are available.
Remember, you can change up a waldorf salad or any other fruit salad with the addition of cranberries.If you want to make your own fresh cranberry sauce this year, follow this recipe from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Service.
For sweet cranberry sauce, use two cups cranberries to one cup sugar and one-half cup water. After the cranberries have been sorted and washed, put all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar crystals completely. Boil gently for about 10 minutes, or until skins crack. Remove from heat and skim foam. Sauce may either be served hot or allowed to cool before serving.
You also have the option to preserve cranberry sauce to enjoy throughout the year. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has a recipe for cranberry sauce. Cranberry Jam is another fun and easy project.
You have so many options to use and enjoy cranberries this season.
We hear it on the news almost every day. Remember to wash your hands, or hand washing can prevent the spread of disease. But is it really that important? The Center for Disease Control has a long list of the science behind the importance of hand washing. It really can be a simple procedure; yet not everyone knows how to effectively wash their hands. Below are some tips for teaching your children.
1. Wet—get your hands wet with clean, running water. Using a basin filled with water can contaminate your hands even further, so turn on the faucet. It doesn’t matter if the water is warm or cold, either is effective against germs but warm water is more comfortable and may make it easier to wash hands for the required time.
2. Lather—teach your children to rub their hands together with the soap. Lathering the backs of hands and in between your fingers is important. Don’t forget to lather the nails—on children this area is often neglected. Teach them to sing Happy Birthday twice while they scrub to be sure they lather long enough.
3. Rinse—use plenty of water, remember warm is often more comfortable for children.
4. Dry-use either a clean towel or airs dry your hands.
It is also a good idea to review with your children when it is necessary to wash their hands. Below is a list from the Center for Disease Control listing appropriate times to wash hands.
These tips may help cut down on sickness in your home this winter.
I have such fond memories of special Halloween celebrations with my two kids, who are young adults now. We would make “scary” treats, homemade costumes, attend school parties, trick-or- treat on beggar’s nights, etc. I’m not sure who had more fun – the kids or me?
Here are some tips from the Centers for Disease Control to help make the festivities safe and fun for all:
Swords, knives, and other costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
Cooler weather makes us think about winter and all the things we have left to do before winter strikes. Mice are not unlike people in this aspect; as the weather cools they begin to look for a way to spend the winter inside your home.
The two most effective methods of ridding your home from mice are exclusion and trapping. You can exclude mice by plugging cracks and holes in the siding or foundation of your home that are ¼ of an inch or larger. Mice need a hole or crack only as large as their head to enter your home. Since mice are excellent climbers, pay attention to loose windows and holes that contain pipes or cables. Stuff steel wool into cracks and holes to prevent mice from entering. Remember that you will not only prevent mice from entering but you may also be lowering your heating bill by tightening up the outside of your home.
Trapping mice is the only way to eliminate the species of mice that spends all it’s time inside your home. Traps set in the center of a room will not be very effective. Set traps along walls or in the small spaces that mice use to travel inside the home. If you notice mice droppings, or have seen a mouse moving in a space then you will want to place a trap there. You have a choice between live traps and kill traps. The simple, cheap snap traps are an effective way to kill mice. If you want to be more humane, choose a live trap. You may want to set multiple traps to increase the odds of catching a mouse. Peanut butter, moist oatmeal, or chocolate are three of the foods that seem to attract mice.
No matter which style of trap you choose, remember to check them daily. If a snap trap is used, you may need to re-bait or empty the trap. Live traps should be checked daily; this ensures that you mice will be handled in a humane fashion. Remember that mice can travel quite a distance and you should release them a good, long distance from your home.