Monthly Archives: December 2014

Safe Handling Tips to Make the Most of Holiday Leftovers

Getting together with family and friends around a table laden with a beautifully browned turkey, a clove-studded ham or whatever dish your family chooses for their holiday feast is one of the highlights of the season. Most of us not only enjoy the truly delicious meal, we also think ahead to all the meals and snacks to come from the leftovers.

Unfortunately, eating leftovers that have not been properly handled are responsible for many of the food-borne illnesses reported each holiday season. If enjoying leftovers are a favorite part of your holiday tradition, here are some tips to help ensure that your cold turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich is not only delicious, but also safe to eat.

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From Purchase to Table and Beyond

The best food safety practices don’t just involve the way leftovers are handled. Instead, take a moment to make sure that the meat, poultry and produce that ends up on your table was raised and processed healthfully. Consider finding local suppliers that use organic farming practices and handle their products responsibly and in accordance with food safety guidelines for the best flavor and nutrition benefits.

If locally produced foods are not possible, research the brands available where you shop and be sure to check expiration dates before you purchase. Once you make the purchase, refrigerate it immediately and never leave it in the sink to thaw or in the car for hours while shopping or running errands.

When it is time to cook, make sure that all food preparation areas and utensils are clean. Be alert for any cross-contamination risks and use non-toxic cleaning products, such as a spray bottle filled with a vinegar and water solution, to clean up spills on counters that occur while you work.

Safe Leftover Practices

Once the feast is over, taking a few moments to properly store the leftovers is the best way to ensure your family can get maximum enjoyment from them over the coming days and weeks.

  • According to the Department of Agriculture, within a couple hours after food is safely cooked or removed from appliances keeping food warm left overs must be refrigerated.
  • Bring the food to room temperature as quickly as possible, before packing into air-tight, PBA-free containers. Storing food in this manner keeps air out, so the taste, quality and nutrition are preserved far longer than with foil or plastic wrap.
  • Perishable foods, such as casseroles, vegetables, turkey and cranberry sauce should be kept cold at 40° F or below.
  • For best results, portion leftovers and refrigerate only the amounts of food your family will realistically consume within 2-3 days, while dating, labeling and freezing the rest in meal-sized portions.

Keep the holidays happy, healthy and economical this year by giving your leftovers the time and attention they deserve!

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Sparkling Silverware for Your Holiday Feast

On the long list of things that you have to do to get ready for friends, family members and other loved ones coming over for the holidays, pulling out silverware stored for special occasions is right at the top. You always want to make a great impression to help keep holiday spirits bright, which is something that always involves putting your best foot forward with regards to dining and entertaining. If you’ve recently broken out your silverware to get ready for that holiday feast and have been greeted by a proverbial lump of coal in the form of tarnished items, don’t fret – there are plenty of natural steps that you can take to get those items looking as good as new.

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Excess moisture and other air pollutants cause tarnish or a thin layer of corrosion of the metal through oxidation. Thankfully, this is something that you can take care of pretty easily. Before you start, though, there is an important consideration that you have to make. Many substances remove tarnish through chemical-laden products; however, Mopfrog offers several tips to clean your silver naturally, as well as the best method to store it to avoid tarnish in the first place.

A Natural Shine

One of the best methods for removing tarnish naturally involves water, aluminum foil and baking soda. Line a bowl with a sheet of aluminum foil, shiny side up, and place in the sink to avoid spills. Mix together one liter of water and several tablespoons of baking soda. Bring mixture to a boil and then pour over your tarnished silverware and watch the tarnish disappear before your eyes. Note that for severely tarnished items, you may have to increase the amount of baking soda that you use or number of treatments. Once the silver is clean, rinse with clean water and buff dry.

Another popular way to remove tarnish from silverware involves toothpaste; however, be careful not to scratch your silver. Avoid using whitening toothpaste, toothpaste designed specifically for tartar control or gel. For best results, use natural or organic toothpaste. Rub gently with a soft cloth, rinse dry and buff with a new clean, soft cloth.

To protect your silver from tarnish, keep the space dry. Chalk is a great way to prevent tarnishing your flatware. Place a few pieces of chalk in the drawer where you store your items to help absorb moisture. Your silverware and fine china will be ready for your next holiday dinner event. 

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Holiday Trees & Fire Safety

Brightly lit trees and sparkling ornaments are a sure sign that the holiday season has arrived. Although a festively trimmed tree is often a focal point of the home and a holiday favorite, it can also be a fire hazard. However, there are ways to decorate your tree safely and prevent your holiday from going up in flames.

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Placement

Tree placement must be about safety as well as aesthetics. Choose a location that is at least 3 feet away from sources of heat, such as furnaces, space heaters, radiators, heating vents, fireplaces and candles. In addition, never allow the tree to block a doorway, which prevents escape in case a fire does occur.

Lighting

A tree without lights just isn’t the same, but lights can lead to fires if you aren’t careful. First, never use candles on or near a tree. When stringing your lights, check for a label that indicates an independent testing laboratory inspected them. Additionally, never use indoor lights outdoors or vice versa. When it comes to connecting all those strings, never connect more than three strands. The best option is to switch to LED lights to decoratively light up your tree. LEDs are both energy efficient and safer because they emit far less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Turn Off the Lights

One of the most important rules it to always turn off holiday lights before going to bed. Not only is this safer, it reduces energy consumption as well. Conserving energy at night when no one is awake to enjoy the lights make sense for your wallet and for the environment.

Disposal

Finally, don’t keep the tree past its prime. Once the green begins to fade and you needles fall off the branches when touched, it’s time to say goodbye. However, don’t just toss your tree out on the curb to be added to the overflowing landfill. Instead, find a local tree recycling program, which can turn your tree into mulch and wood chips or use it as a wildlife and fish habitat. Hire a cleaning company to clean up the mess post-disposal.

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