Score a Safe Tailgate with Wings

Platter of wings
Platter of wings with two different sauces.

Wings are ubiquitous with tailgates!  They are easy to prepare (or pick up), budget friendly, an easy-to-eat finger food, incredibly fun to try with different sauces, and when cooked properly, tasty and satisfying.  Sadly, many tailgates have been spoiled by food poisoning due to improper cooking or care of the meat.  Unlike other types of meat, chicken meat can host harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter jejuni, Listeria monocytogenes, and Escherichia coli (E. coli).  By using safe food handling practices and proper cooking techniques, there is no need to worry.

What are wings?

Wings are the forearm of the chicken and are part of the breast muscle which runs along both sides of the breastbone. Chicken wings are considered white meat, even though they’re juicier than white meat and have a more concentrated poultry flavor, like dark meat.  The wing of the chicken consists of three sections, the wing tip, the wingette (or flat wing having two small bones in it), and the drumettes (the part that looks like a mini-drumstick).  At the supermarket, wings are usually sold as the whole wing, wingettes, drumettes, or the wingette and drumette attached (no wing tip). 

The drumette is the part of the wing that is attached to the breastbone and usually considered the most desirable because it is meatier.   Many people think of Buffalo wings when they think of this part of the chicken.  (Buffalo wings, originated in Buffalo, New York, around1964, and became famous for the tangy, hot sauce-coated, deep-fried drumettes served with blue cheese dip and celery sticks.)

Be a Tailgate Wing MVP and Score a Winning Tailgate

The best offense is a good defense.  Have your food safety plan in place before the tailgate starts and know your opponent—harmful microbes—and deal with it using these tips for a worry-free tailgate:

Clean.  When preparing any food, start with clean hands, work surfaces and utensils.  DO NOT WASH the wings.  Rinsing meat or poultry under running water, results in splashing of water droplets onto other surfaces, kitchen utensils or food, causing contamination with harmful microorganisms.  Skip the wash, but instead pat-dry the chicken with paper towels, like many professional chefs do.  Dispose of the towels safely. Season as desired.

Separate.  If it is necessary to cut the whole wing or wingette and drumette apart, use a separate cutting board from any that would be used for fruits and vegetables.   Cross-contamination of utensils, cookware, cutting boards, countertops and anything else that has been exposed to raw chicken can put one at risk for salmonella. Thoroughly wash hands and any items that may have come into contact with the raw chicken with hot, soapy water before using for any other purpose.

Cook.   It doesn’t matter what cooking method* is used to prepare wings; it is essential to make sure that the chicken wings are thoroughly cooked to a final temperature of 165°F (74ºC). If not, you might have to deal with a bout of food poisoning. Salmonella and other bacteria are killed when subjected to a temperature of 165° F (74ºC). Use an instant-read digital thermometer to check the temperature by inserting the probe part of the thermometer into the thickest part of the wing, avoiding the bone.  Check several wings in the batch.  Use a clean thermometer for each and every temperature check.  Visual color is never a reliable indicator of safety or doneness.  Precooked frozen chicken wings, must be reheated to 165°F (74ºC) as well.

Place cooked wings into an insulated container or slow cooker for transporting or keeping hot during the tailgate if electrical outlets are available. Or use disposable foil pans and reheat on the grill. If prepared at the tailgate, bring wings chilled ready to cook on the grill and eat them as soon as they can be handled easily.

Chill.  Bacteria can multiply rapidly if left in the “Danger Zone” (40°F-140°F, 4⁰C-60⁰C).  Get wings and other perishable foods into coolers within 2 hours. If the food is exposed to temperatures above 90°F (32⁰C), chill within 1 hour. Sauces may be kept chilled by placing them above a cold source like a bowl of ice.  If foods have not been exposed to Danger Zone temperatures for more than 2 hours and chilled properly, they may be reheated for halftime or after the game treats. Before reheating, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the food.  If food is at 40°F or lower it may be reheated. Be sure to reheat wings and other originally hot foods to 165°F (74⁰C) and check the temperature with a food thermometer. Do not reheat in a slow cooker; rather use a grill, or if at home, an oven or microwave.  Any food left in the Danger Zone for more than 2 hours should be discarded.

Other tips include having a serving utensil for each item and plenty of paper plates so everyone can use a clean plate when getting more food.

Be a Tailgate Wing MVP! Go for the win! Follow basic food safety principles, properly handle raw chicken meat, cook wings to an internal temperature of 165°F (74ºC), and chill as needed to keep you and your guests safe.

*Wing Cooking Methods

With any chicken wing recipe, it’s important to follow the instructions carefully to ensure that you have cooked them properly.  Cooking times are approximate; always use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature.  Wings may be prepared by oven baking, air frying, grilling, or deep fat frying following these general directions or your favorite wing recipe.

Oven – Place wings in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake at 400⁰F (204⁰C) for approximately 40 minutes.  It is a good idea halfway through the cooking time to turn the wings over to allow both sides of the wings to get crispy. 

Air Fryer – Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Pat the chicken wings dry. Place the wings in the fryer basket so they are not touching. Set the air fryer to 360⁰F (182ºC) and cook for 12 minutes, then flip the wings with tongs and cook for 12 minutes more. Flip the wings again, increase the heat to 390⁰F (199ºC) and cook until the outsides are extra-crispy, about 6 minutes more.

Grill – Turn the wings every 4-6 minutes to ensure that they are cooked evenly throughout the grilling process.  Cooking time should be about 25-30 minutes.

Deep Fat Fryer – Heat oil to 375°F (191⁰C). Fry wings in batches until skin is crisp and meat is tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Meet Rachel Sweeney

Rachel Sweeney is the newest member of the AnswerLine team!

Child giving a 4-H presentation
Rachel giving a 4-H baking presentation – Photo: rsweeney

AnswerLine is a new role for Rachel Sweeney, but Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is not. Rachel grew up on a diversified farm outside of Iowa City and was actively involved with Johnson County 4-H as a member of the Graham Champions 4-H Club. At an early age, she realized she could turn her interest in food and nutrition projects into a career, she decided to attend Iowa State University and major in that area graduating with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in dietetics and exercise science. After graduation, she spent a year in Nashville completing a dietetic internship at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Rachel’s began her professional career as an ISU Extension and Outreach human sciences specialist in Nutrition and Wellness, serving southeast Iowa for nearly seven years. In this role she led food preservation workshops, food safety trainings, and nutrition trainings for child care providers. After a brief stint as a retail dietitian, she returned to ISU Extension and Outreach as a program coordinator for Iowa 4-H Youth Development’s SWITCH (School Wellness Ingetration Targeting Child Health) program, an innovative school wellness initiative designed to support and enhance school wellness programming. After two years in this role, she got a new job title, MOM, in November of 2021, and a need to balance work and family life. AnswerLine provided the perfect opportunity for her to continue to work and enjoy her young family. One month into the job, Rachel says, “I have really enjoyed my first month on the job answering client’s questions and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow in this role to best serve the citizens of Iowa and Minnesota.”

When Rachel is not answering client questions via phone or email, she is likely with her family, 5-month old son, Thomas, and husband, Jim. She enjoys gardening, cooking and baking, food preservation, traveling, and being outside. As if she isn’t busy enough with work, family, and her many interests, she is also training for the swim portion of a half-Ironman relay-team competition in June! GO Rachel!!!!!

Rachel is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and stays involved with the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Beware of Halloween Decoration Dangers

Assorted fall and Halloween decorations at a store. ‘Tis the season to be scary . . . fa, la, la, la, la, la, la . . .

Halloween has become as festive as Christmas with string of lights, blow up decorations, animated displays, fog machines, and other electric-powered decorations.  Any and all create a scare-worthy porch or yard for any trick-or-treaters that dare to ring the doorbell.  But like Christmas decorations, Halloween decorations can be a source of dangers that could spoil the holiday that is suppose to be fun.  Remember a safe celebration is the best celebration.

So as Halloween decorating approaches, here’s some safety tips from Safe Electricity to make sure Halloween is safe and fun for all:

  • Carefully inspect decorations that have been stored for cracking, fraying or bare wires.  Do not use if any of these problems are found as they may cause a shock or start a fire.
  • When replacing or purchasing decorations or cords, make sure they are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) approved and marked for outdoor use.
  • Unless specifically indicated, keep electrical decorations out of water or wet areas.
  • Be mindful of extension cords.  They should not run through water on the ground.  Use only cords rated for outdoor use.
  • Don’t overload plugs or extension cords.  Be sure to use a big enough gauge extension cord to handle the decoration wattage without getting hot.
  • Use insulated staples to hold strings of lights or cords in place.  Fasten securely.
  • Plug outdoor lights and decorations into GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupters).
  • Keep cords away from walkways or anyplace where they may be a potential tripping hazard or entanglement hazard for pets.
  • Consider using a timer to have decorations or lights on for a specified amount of time.  Turn them off while away from the home and before going to bed.

By following basic electrical safety guidelines, you will  avoid real scares or dangerous tricks and keep Halloween a fun and safe event.  Get more safety tips at SafeElectricity.org.

A Halloween blowup - large eyes with large orange glasses.

Reviewed 6/2024, mg.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Sunscreen stains on leather

Just yesterday, a caller wanted to know how to remove a sunscreen stain from a leather car seat. Leather can be tricky to clean and stains easily, so I had to do some research to find an answer for the caller. Since the weather has been hot and sunny lately, I thought other people might have the same problem.

If you want to clean it with materials you already have on hand, follow these directions:

  • First, blot up any excess lotion on the seat. Be careful to blot and not wipe. Wiping the stain can spread it and make a larger stain.
  • Next, get some cornstarch or some baking soda. You will need enough to sprinkle over the entire stain. Before you apply the starch or soda, lightly rub the spot. Friction can heat the stain and allow you to adsorb more of the lotion before sprinkling the starch or soda.
  • Once you have covered the stain with cornstarch or baking soda, allow it to sit on the stain overnight. The next morning, check the spot. If the cornstarch or baking soda have yellowed, then they have adsorbed some of the stain. If you can still see some of the stain, you can repeat the treatment.
  • If the stain remains, it may be time to use a leather cleaner.
  • You can always contact the dealership that sold you your car as they often have leather care kits for use on the seats. If they do have a kit available, use both the cleaner and then the conditioner after cleaning the seat.

Don’t let a stain keep you from protecting your skin with sunscreen this summer.

 

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Safe Summer Picnics

It is Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. One of my favorite parts of summer is enjoying cooking and eating outside. Cooking and serving food outside can make things a bit more complicated. Unless the picnic is on the deck or patio right outside your door, take precautions to ensure that you are serving safe food.

If I do not have my refrigerator nearby, I always use an ice chest with plenty of ice in it. This keeps the meat, salads, and drinks cool and safe. I can then store the leftovers right after we finish eating. Packing plenty of paper plates allows me to use different plates for raw and cooked meat. It also eliminates the possibility of dripping juices onto other items in the picnic basket as I can toss those plates.

It is also a great idea to pack some wet wipes to clean my hands and any other surfaces that I need to set food on. Packing a few zipper bags can keep foods separate and reduce the chance of cross contamination.

The last but possibly most important thing to pack is the instant read meat thermometer. Use a thermometer every time you grill. Remember to cook poultry to 165°F, ground meats to 160°F, and steaks and roasts to a minimum of 145°F. Insert the stem into the center of the meat, avoid touching any bones, and insert the shaft of the thermometer past the dimple.

Enjoy your first picnic of the season and stay safe.

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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Exploring Iowa via Adult Learning Vacations

Recently I learned about a learning adventure/vacation opportunity for adults offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach designed to experience and explore Iowa in unique ways through a travel course.  Little did I know that this opportunity existed.  The courses are arranged by Diane Van Wyngarden, tourism specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach, and are part of the Road Scholar Program.  Each learning adventure has a theme of study.  For a week, a limited number of participants travel together following the theme and learning insights and history from experts about the various communities involved in the study.  Transportation is by motorcoach or boat.

This year, the adventure is one that really intrigues me–the Mississippi River, the Great River Road, and other fascinating points of interest along the way.  If this also intrigues you, check out Iowa Road Scholar or contact Diane Van Wyngarden at dvw@iastate.edu for more information about this adventure and other Iowa learning adventures.

Road Scholar programs are open to adults of all ages with most participants 50+ years of age who enjoy learning experiences rather than touring.  For more information about Road Scholars see www.roadscholar.org.

 

 

 

 

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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Prepare Now for Safe Summer Boating

Three people on a boat wearing life jackets.
Boating safely means wearing life jackets at all times by all boaters.

Summer will be here soon and with it will come many outdoor recreational opportunities.  If boating is something you or you and your family will do, then it’s time to think or rethink boat safety.  ​According to the National Safety Council, about 74 million Americans engage in recreational boating each year.  Most boat outings are fun times, but the good times can quickly turn otherwise if boaters are not vigilant about safety at all times.  The most common boat tragedies occur when someone falls overboard or a boat capsizes or collides with another boat.  The US Coast Guard statistics show that nearly 7 out of 10 boating accidents resulting in death occurred due to operator error or lack of boating safety instruction.

The good news is that lives can be saved and injuries reduced with education and observation of safety rules and recommendations.

Education.  Many states require completion of a boat safety course in order to operate a vessel on lake and streams within the state.  Taking the course allows one to become familiar with operation basics and etiquette, as well as state and federal waterway rules.  And, by taking the course, insurance premiums may be lowered.  Boat Ed offers courses and tests recognized by the U.S. Coast Guard, approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, and meet individual state’s certification standards.

Life jackets are essential.  While regulations on life jackets vary from state to state,  the Wear It  program of the National Safe Boating Council encourages boaters to wear a Coast Guard approved life jacket any time they are on a boat, motorized or non-motorized.  In addition to wearing the life jacket, it must fit properly (appropriate for size and weight), and be securely fastened.  Most states mandate life jackets for youth. Boat US Foundation provides information on properly fitting a life jacket.

To further reduce risk, the Coast Guard offers these tips:

  • Don’t drink: alcohol affects judgment, vision, balance and coordination.
  • Get an annual vessel safety check.
  • Know about carbon monoxide; this odorless, colorless poisonous gas is emitted by all combustion engines and onboard motor generators.
  • Have first aid kits onboard as well as extra  flotation devices, a fire extinguisher, and a sound signaling device.
  • Check your local weather forecast before going out.

The extra effort that goes into taking these kinds of precautions will help create fun-filled adventures for you and your family on the water.

Marlene Geiger

I am a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a BS in Home Economics Education and Extension and from Colorado State University with a MS in Textiles and Clothing. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, gardening, quilting, cooking, sewing, and sharing knowledge and experience with others.

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The Pioneer Woman

I love to travel and was fortunate to recently go on a trip with a wonderful friend to Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see the Pioneer Woman sites. After watching her show on the Food Network it was a real treat to get to see the Mercantile and the Pawhuska area. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Pawhuska within walking distance of the Mercantile. We were happy we did that as it allowed us to easily walk to the Mercantile at off hours that were not so crowded. Several thousand people visit the Mercantile every day and it is not uncommon to have to wait in line a very long time (up to two hours) to be able to eat in the restaurant. We made sure we were there for breakfast by 7am and ate a very early dinner to avoid the lines.

There are two stories at the Mercantile. On the main level are the deli/restaurant and the retail shop. You can have a sit down meal or go through a line to pick up prepared foods to take with you. There is also a coffee shop on the main level where you can buy coffees and specialty drinks. I did not try the Cowboy Coffee or the Spicy Cowgirl coffee but they were popular choices with the patrons who were there at the same time I was. My two favorite menu items were the Olive Cheese Bread (which I will try to recreate at home!) and the Prune Cake. My friend and I were leery of trying the cake but our very friendly and knowledgeable server highly recommended it. We were not disappointed!

Upstairs at the Mercantile are a coffee bar, bakery, and a nice relaxation area to enjoy the treats you purchased. They also sell several types of candy. The picures on the wall were all taken by Ree and were a joy to look at. There were very nice restrooms on each level – they have thought of everything!

The Mercantile was actually a mercantile originally known as the Osage Mercantile back in the 1800s. The Drummond family has done an amazing job restoring and refurbishing it. It is well worth the visit. It is a fun and family-friendly destination. Check the website ahead of time and also check with the deli when you arrive as tours of the Lodge where the Pioneer Woman shows are often filmed are available on certain dates. The tours are free and directions are given to you if you are lucky enough to be there on a day tours are available. Tour tickets are not available in advance.

The Mercantile is closed on Sundays and Pawhuska is a small town but it has a lot going for it and many interesting things to do in the area. Pawhuska is known as the gateway to the Tallgrass Prairie. It is definitely worth a drive through the prairie if you have time. Pawhuska is also the home of America’s first Boy Scout Troop. It is a fascinating area of the country to visit. If you are a follower of the Pioneer Woman and watch her shows on TV I highly recommend you add this to your vacation destination list.

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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How to pack your cooler

Summertime often means picnic, beach, and car trip time for us! We often take a cooler with us in the car for snacks and beverages. It is important to keep foods cold and that is best achieved with a full cooler. If your cooler is not full you may want to consider adding extra ice cubes to fill it up. If your cooler doesn’t have a thick well-insulated lid you may also want to consider packing a thick towel on top of everything under the lid. If you can chill your cooler ahead of time that will help keep cold foods cold longer. If you do not have time to chill it, room temperature is more helpful than packing a warm cooler you have just retrieved from your garage or attic.
Place your food and drinks, which should be in leak-proof resealable containers or plastic bags in the bottom of the cooler first then put the ice on top. You should plan on about 1/2 pound of ice for every quart your cooler holds. Foods and drinks should be packed pre-chilled.
As the ice melts you may be tempted to drain the water out of the cooler but there is no need to do that as the cold water will also help keep the contents of the cooler chilled.
Summer is my favorite season and I am looking forward to packing up a cooler and heading out many days!

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Tips for a safe picnic

I’m just back from a camping trip and at the State Park we stayed at there were several large picnic areas. I was wondering just how full those picnic areas would be over the Fourth of July. That got me to thinking about picnics and food safety. This is a perfect time to think about planning a safe holiday picnic.

Here are my tips for a fun, safe picnic:

Start with clean hands, cutting boards, and utensils. Soap and water are still the best way to clean your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Remember that washing your hands with soap and water, rubbing between fingers, and washing up the arm a bit will ensure clean hands. Sing the Happy Birthday song twice or recite the alphabet so that you know you have washed them long enough. If you find yourself at an area without running water be sure to pack antibacterial wipes for hand cleaning. Hand sanitizer is not a good option, especially if your hands are soiled.

Always wash your hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, handling garbage, touching raw meat, blowing your nose, or playing fetch with your pet.

Keep everything that touches food clean. Keep all utensils, bowls, and cutting boards clean. Use separate boards for raw meat and raw vegetables. Always use a clean plate for cooked meat; never use the same plate you used to put the raw meat on the grill to serve the cooked meat. Before you leave home, be sure to scrub all items that will touch or contain food. Wash in hot water and use an abrasive cloth (think terry cloth) or brush. Rinse well with hot water. You can sanitize with a solution made of 2 teaspoons of fresh chlorine bleach in a quart of cool water. You can put this in a spray bottle and spray the sanitizer on the items. Let the sanitizer solution sit for 10-15 minutes before rinsing it off. Then let the items air dry.

Stay out of the danger zone. The danger zone is between 40°F and 140°F. In that temperature range, bacteria can grow exponentially. Thaw your picnic foods safely by using the refrigerator for thawing. Keep foods cold by putting dishes of salads or other foods that are temperature sensitive into a larger bowl containing ice. Keeping foods in an ice chest until you are ready to eat will also help keep food safe. Remember to get those leftovers back into the ice chest within an hour or so, depending on how hot it is the day of the picnic. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Use an instant read thermometer to know when grilled meat is safe to eat.

Follow these tips for a safer picnic this summer.

 

 

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

More Posts - Website

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