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Turkey Tips

Thanksgiving dinner. Roasted turkey with pumpkins and sunflowers on wooden table

Are you planning on preparing a Turkey for Thanksgiving?  Planning ahead can make the traditional Thanksgiving meal safer and less stressful.  Here are some tips from your local County Extension Office to help make this year’s holiday meal a success.

Before purchasing your turkey, make sure you have ample space in your refrigerator.  Turkeys look smaller at the grocery store, so be careful not to underestimate the size of your bird.  Think about using a cooler to thaw and store your turkey.  The turkey should be kept on ice and should stay 40°F or below to prevent bacteria from growing.  Storing the turkey in a cooler will free up space in your refrigerator and will help keep the raw turkey juices from contaminating other items in your refrigerator.

Thawing and handling

Never defrost turkey on the counter! Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. Leave the bird in the original packaging and place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. To thaw in cold water, keep turkey in the original packaging, place in a clean and sanitized sink or pan and submerge in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze. If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1 to 2 days before the meal and keep it refrigerated or on ice.  Once thawed, remove neck and giblets from the body cavities and keep bird and parts refrigerated at 40 °F or below until it is ready to be cooked.

Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the turkey.

Cooking and stuffing

The single most important thing to know about cooking a turkey, no matter the cooking method, is that the turkey must be cooked to the proper internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer. An unstuffed turkey will generally take 14 to 20 minutes per pound to cook and a stuffed turkey will take additional time.

Stuffing should be prepared and stuffed into the turkey immediately before it’s placed in the oven at 325°F. Mix the wet and dry ingredients for the stuffing separately and combine just before using. Stuff the turkey loosely, about 3/4 cup stuffing per pound of turkey. Bake any extra stuffing in a greased casserole dish. Cooked inside or outside the bird, all stuffing and dressing recipes must be cooked to a minimum temperature of 165 °F. (For optimum safety and more even cooking, it’s recommended to cook your stuffing in a casserole dish.)

Take the temperature!  Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.  If the turkey is done and the stuffing is not yet 165 °F, remove the stuffing from the turkey and place it in a greased casserole dish to continue cooking to temperature.

APPROXIMATE COOKING TIMES

Size of Turkey Cooking Time Size of Turkey Cooking Time
Unstuffed  Stuffed
8 to 12 pounds 2 ¾ to 3 hours 8 to 12 pounds 3 to 3 ½ hours
12 to 14 pounds 3 to 3¾ hours 12 to 14 pounds 3 ½ to 4 hours
14 to 18 pounds 3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hours 14 to 18 pounds 4 to 4 ¼ hours
18 to 20 pounds 4 ¼ to 4 ½ hours 18 to 20 pounds 4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hours
20 to 24 pounds 4 ½ to 5 hours 20 to 24 pounds 4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hours

Safe carving and serving

It’s best to let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to set, so the turkey will carve more easily. Use a clean cutting board that has a well to catch juices. Remove all stuffing from the turkey cavity. Make sure your knife is sharp before you start carving. Do not leave any extra turkey, stuffing or other leftovers out for more than two hours.

Storing leftovers safely

Remove the stuffing and carve the extra turkey meat from the bones. Within two hours, store leftover turkey in shallow containers and put in the refrigerator or the freezer. Use cooked leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3-4 days. Cooked turkey keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer. When using leftovers, reheat the foods thoroughly to 165 °F or until hot and steaming; bring gravy to a boil before serving.

For more information:  you can reach USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline toll-free at: 1-800-535-4555, Monday through Friday, from 10 am to 4 pm Eastern Time. It also will be open from 8 am to 2 pm ET on Thanksgiving Day.   Additional food safety information is available on the Web at http://www.fsis.usda.gov  You can also contact Angela Treadaway your Regional Extension Agent in Food Safety/Preservation/Preparation from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System  at #205-410-3696.

Happy Holidays from your County Extension staff!  We hope you have a safe and joyous season.

 

Turkey and Broccoli Quiche

Ingredients

2 (9 inch) ready-made piecrusts

4 eggs

1 cup low-fat or skim milk

¾ cup low-fat cheddar cheese

¾ cup cooked, chopped turkey

1 (10 ounce) package frozen, chopped broccoli

¼ cup carrots, shredded

¼ cup finely chopped onion

¾ cup teaspoon garlic salt

Pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake piecrust according to package directions.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well.
  3. Cook broccoli according to package directions. Pour off liquid.  Let broccoli cool; squeeze broccoli to remove some more water.  Make sure broccoli is well drained.
  4. Layer the turkey, vegetables and cheese into baked piecrust. Pour the egg mixture over the ingredients.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until top is brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes 12 servings | calories 270 | total fat 16 g | saturated fat 6 g | protein 16 g | carbohydrates 17 g | fiber 2 g | sodium 450 mg

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Catfish Recipes – More Than One Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When people think of catfish they automatically think of fried catfish. Delicious, fried catfish can become tiring after eating it over and over again. These catfish recipes put a new spin on catfish and give you a variety of options to choose from.

Catfish Gumbo

Ingredients

1 pound skinned catfish fillets, fresh or frozen

½ cup chopped celery

½ cup chopped onion

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

½ cup chopped green pepper

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 beef bouillon cubes

2 cups boiling water

1 1 pound can tomato

1 10 ounce package frozen okra, sliced

2 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper ¼ teaspoon thyme

1 whole bay leaf

Hot red pepper sauce, to taste

1 ½ cups hot cooked rice

Directions

Thaw fillets if frozen. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Cook celery, green pepper, onion and garlic in oil until tender. Dissolve bouillon cubes in water. Add bouillon, tomatoes, okra and seasonings. Cover and simmer 15 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove bay leaf. Place ¼ cup cooked rice in each of six soup bowls. Fill with gumbo. Serves 6.

Lemon Pepper Catfish  

Ingredients

1 ½ pound catfish fillets

2 tablespoons melted margarine or butter

1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

Salt, to taste

Directions

Clean, wash and dry fish. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place fish in a single layer in an oiled baking dish. Drizzle butter over the fillets and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Bake 16 to 18 minutes. Fillets are done when a fork slices through the thickest part of the fillet with little resistance and the fish flakes easily

Comment: Lemon Pepper Catfish cooks well in a microwave oven. Use a microwave-safe dish. Very thin ends of fillets can be turned under to lessen the chance of overcooking. Cover with waxed paper and cook on high for 5 to 7 minutes per pound. Rotate the dish a quarter turn during cooking.

Grilled Catfish

Ingredients

6 or 8 whole catfish (about ½ pound each, dressed)

1.4 cup oil or melted margarine

Barbecue sauce for the Catfish

½ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup ketchup

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon dry mustard

Directions

Rinse catfish in cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Place on oiled grill rack four inches above hot coals. Cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, basting regularly with oil. Larger fish will require longer time. Fish flakes easily when done. Season with salt, pepper and lemon or use the following barbecue sauce. Serve immediately.

Variation: For barbecued catfish, combine ingredients for barbecue sauce and pour over catfish in a shallow glass dish. Cover and marinate in refrigerator and cook as above, basting frequently with marinade sauce. Serve with additional sauce, if desired.

 

Featured Image: msaandy033/shutterstock.com

 

 The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Helpful Tips for Gathering and Storing Pecans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is the time when pecan crops are ready to be harvested. This comes at the perfect time to use pecans to create the Fall recipes that we love. But, before people can use them in recipes, they have to be gathered and stored. An Extension professional offer tips for gathering and storing pecans.

Gathering

“Harvest your pecans promptly for best quality,” said Doug Chapman, an Alabama Extension regional agent in commercial horticulture. “Don’t let them lie on wet ground for extended periods of time. “

This process improves the quality of the nuts until they reach their optimum appearance, aroma, flavor and texture. If nuts get wet after initial drying, the seed coat will darken and the oil in the kernel increases the fatty acid levels. This condition causes nuts to be stale and rancid.

After gathering, take pecans to a dry location inside. Drying is one of the most important steps in assuring a high-quality appearance and flavor in pecans. If possible, spread pecans out in a dry, moderately warm place and dry several days before storing. Refrigerate or freeze pecans when they are dried to a crisp texture.

Crack and shell your pecans as soon as possible. Shelled pecans can also be frozen until you are ready to use them.

Storing

Pecans stored below freezing can keep for two years. Make sure kernels are dried properly before freezing. Lay the nuts out several days in a warm, dry place. Kernels should be crisp and break easily in half if dried properly.

Don’t store pecans in packages with apples or other fruits. Also, don’t store them in rubber-like packages or in rooms that may be musty. Pecans absorb gases from the storage atmosphere, which can change the flavor and the pecan’s stability.

Caring for Pecan Trees in the Fall

If you need to apply lime or zinc to pecan trees, fall is a good time to do so. Soil testing will provide detailed instructions on fertilizing and liming. Clean up and destroy pops, shucks, leaves and limbs to reduce pest problems. If trees have lost their leaves by Nov. 1 because of aphids, downy spot, pecan scab or other damage, expect to see a reduced pecan crop next year.

More Information

Alabama Extension has the publication, Pecans–Keep Them Fresh Year Round, that discusses a variety of topics on pecans. For more information contact your county Extension office.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Cooking with Pumpkin

 

Right now the pumpkins and winter squash are ripe and ready. Pumpkin and winter squash are a rich source of Vitamin A as well as fiber. Other nutrients you get from pumpkin include potassium, folic acid, copper, iron, and riboflavin. One cup of cooked solidly packed pumpkin/squash has only about 80 calories!

While it is much easier to use canned pumpkin, you can use fresh pumpkin and squash that you have cooked and pureed for your favorite recipes. There are several varieties of winter squash available including butternut, Hubbard, turban, buttercup, acorn, banana, mammoth, sweet dumpling, and the pumpkin.

 

 

 

 

Follow these tips for easy and safe pumpkin cooking:

  • Choose pumpkin or squash that has a bright colored skin, is firm and heavy for its size, with no damaged areas. Smaller pumpkins/squash may produce better products.
  • To use, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds. Place it cut side down in a baking dish and bake in a moderate (350 degree) oven until the pulp is soft. Let it cool slightly and then scoop the flesh out of the shell. You can puree it in a blender or food processor to make a smoother product and it is ready for pies, pumpkin bread, cookies or other product made with pumpkin puree.
  • To freeze pumpkin, first rinse the outer rind with cold water. Then cut into cooking-size sections and remove seeds. Cook until soft in boiling water, in steam, in a pressure cooker or in an oven. Remove pulp from rind and mash. To cool, place pan containing pumpkin in cold water and stir occasionally. Package, leaving ½-inch headspace. Seal, label container and freeze. Freeze in quantities that can be used at one time, for example, enough for one or two pumpkin pies.
  • Thaw pumpkin and squash in the refrigerator – not on the counter- before using.
  • To can pumpkin, you must can the pumpkin in chunks. Wash the pumpkin and remove seeds. Cut into 1-inch slices and peel then cut the flesh into 1-inch cubes. Add the cubes to a saucepot of boiling water and boil for 2 minutes, do not mash or puree. Pack the hot cubes into hot jars leaving 1-inch of headspace. Fill the jar to within 1-inch of the top with boiling hot cooling liquid. Remove air bubbles, wipe the jar rims, adjust the lids and process in a pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure – 55 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts.
  • When you are ready to use the pumpkin, drain off most of the liquid and mash or puree and use as you would commercially canned pumpkin.
  • Check stored pumpkins occasionally and discard any that become soft or moldy

Orange Date Pumpkin Muffins

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup al-purpose flour

2 tsp backing powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp ground cinnamon

1 large seedless orange, scrubbed and cut into 8 sections(peel left on)

1 large egg

1 large egg white

2/3 cup fresh unseasoned pumpkin puree

½ cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup honey

3 Tbsp canola oil

¾ cup pitted dates, chopped

3 Tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat 12 standard muffin cups with cooking spray.

Whisk flours, baking powder and soda, salt, cinnamon in a large bowl.  Puree orange sections in a food processor or blender.  Add egg, egg white, pumpkin, sugar, honey and oil and process until mixed good.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients: add the wet ingredients and dates.  Stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.  Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with nuts.  Bake the muffins until the tops spring back when touched lightly approx. 18-20 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 5 min and empty out onto wire rack to cool before serving.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Fall is for Fairs, Festivals and Traveling Food Vendors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is just around the corner and communities will soon be offering hayrides, pumpkin picking, fall festivals, craft shows, and more. When thinking about these fall activities, many people start to crave iconic fall festival food, such as apple pies, hot spiced cider, and pumpkin flavored everything. I love going to these fall festivals and enjoying the treats, but I wondered about the food safety practices of these types of food establishments and food vendors and how safe their food might be.  Many of the vendors often travel throughout the state to these events in trucks or trailers.  Think of state and local carnivals that like the state and local fairs too.  They have food vendors that travel and should be inspected by the local Health department each spot they stop in for the week.

Here are a few things to consider when you are thinking about buying food from any vendor to ensure you are eating safe food:

  • Is the food prepared in front of you?It is good for the food to be prepared in front of the consumer so they can see that safe and sanitary food handling practices are followed.
  • Is the workspace where the food is prepared clean and tidy?Messy workspaces can cause cross-contamination between foods cooked throughout the day as workers may be more likely to use a surface or utensil that has not been sanitized.
  • Do the employees have a sink to wash their hands?Germs can pass from hands to food. Good hygiene of the employees can prevent any transmission of these germs into food prepared for consumers. If the vendor isn’t in a vehicle, is there a place nearby for the employees to wash their hands?
  • Do the employees use gloves or tongs to prepare and serve the food?This practice prevents any contamination to come from the food handlers. Food not handled by the employees protects the consumer from any germs and contamination on the employee’s hands.
  • Are different foods prepared in the same area?If they are, there is a possibility of cross-contamination, which can cause foodborne illnesses.
  • Is there a refrigerator to keep raw ingredients?Food sitting out for more than two hours can be filled with harmful bacteria. It is essential for food to be kept in the right containers at the right temperature to keep it safe for consumers to eat.

There are a few questions for consumers to consider for vendors who travel around from one festival to another:

  • Has the vendor been inspected by the health department?If the vendor has been approved there will be a posted permit where the public can see.
  • Is there proof of the recent inspection from the health department attached to the permit?Each vendor is inspected and permitted by the health department to prove that the vendor has fulfilled the minimum requirements to be open for the public to safely consume the food.

If a vendor passes all of these questions then the food should be safe to be enjoyed. Enjoy the food at your community’s fall festivals even more by knowing that the food they are serving is the safest it can be.

 

HALLOWEEN FOOD SAFETY TIPS

Do not get tricked by unwanted bacteria that can make you sick. Avoid uninvited bugs that can ruin your party. Here are food safety tips to have a Happy Halloween! 

Tips for Parents Before Treat-or-Trick

  • Children should not snack while out trick-or-treating. Give them a snack or light meal before going out.
  • Tell children not to accept–and, especially, not to eat–anything that is not commercially wrapped. 

Trick-or-Treating Food Safety Tips

  • Trick-or-treaters should wait until they get home and their parents can check their candy before they eat
  • Discard homemade treats unless it is from someone you know
  • Inspect commercially wrapped treats for signs of tampering, such as an unusual appearance or discoloration, tiny pinholes, or tears in wrappers. Throw away anything that looks suspicious.
  • Discard any goodies with open or torn wrapping

Consider alternative treats to give

  • packages of low-fat crackers with cheese or peanut butter
  • packaged fruit leather
  • mini boxes of raisins
  • packages of hot chocolate mix
  • microwaveable popcorn

What to serve at a Halloween party

  • If having food catered, make sure you are working with a reputable caterer and have properly working chafing dishes to keep hot food hot
  • Keep hot foods hot at a safe temperature of 140 oF or above.
  • Keep cold foods cold. Make sure there is plenty of room in your refrigerator to store cold food before, during and after the party The refrigerator should be 40 F or cooler to prevent bacterial growth.
  • If the refrigerator is too crowded, store and cool drinks in coolers with ice.
  • If juice or cider is served to children at Halloween parties, make sure it is pasteurized or otherwise treated to destroy harmful bacteria. Juice or cider that has not been treated will say so on the label.

 Various Halloween drinks and candies such as cupcakes, cookies, nuts in chocolate on the table

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What food to bring to a Halloween party

  • Keep cold food cold, and hot food hot.
  • Choose simple dishes that can be put in a cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packages.
  • Any foods that have been cooked ahead of time and need to be reheated like meatballs and chicken wings need to be heated to 165degrees in a microwave oven.
  • Fresh vegetables should be washed well before serving hat your family eats there is safe.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

A New Twist on Apple Recipes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apples are considered one of the most popular ingredients to cook with during Fall. While the traditional ways to cook apples are delicious, this season you might want to try mixing things up a little bit. These recipes are sure to bring a new twist to this fall favorite ingredient.

Apple Walnut Cake

Ingredients

Nonstick vegetable cooking spray

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 ¾ cups sugar

3 egg whites

¾ cup unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon butter flavoring

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

3 cups chopped, peeled apples

¾ cup chopped walnuts

Directions

Cut wax paper to fit bottom of a 10 inch tube pan, allowing ½ inch to extend up side of pan and center tube. Coat bottom of pan with cooking spray. Fit paper in bottom and coat bottom, tube and side with spray. Dust lightly with 2 tablespoons flour. Put oil in a small mixing bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating thoroughly after each addition. Continue beating until mixture looks creamy. Add egg whites, on at a time beat thoroughly after each addition. Continue beating until creamy Do not overbeat. Put egg mixture into a large bowl, being careful to remove it all.

Add applesauce, vanilla and butter flavoring; stir until evenly blended. In another bowl, combine 3 cups flour, soda, baking powder, salt and allspice; stir until evenly blended. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, adding about one-third of the flour at a time. Blend well after each addition. Add apples and walnuts. Stir until evenly blended. Pour into pan; spread evenly. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 60 minutes or until done. Cool pan on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan; finish cooling on rack. To serve cut into wedges about 1 inch thick.

 

Apple Punch

Ingredients

1 6 ounce can frozen lemonade concentrate

1 6 ounce can frozen unsweetened orange juice concentrate

2 quarts unsweetened apple juice

2 quarts ginger ale, chilled

Directions

Thaw lemonade and orange juice concentrates. Combine and add apple juice; mix well. Chill thoroughly. When ready to serve, combine juice mixture with ginger ale. Serve over ice.

 

Scalloped Apples

Ingredients

2 cups dry bread crumbs

¼ cup melted corn-oil margarine

¼ cup sugar

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

3 tablespoons lemon juice

¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

Butter-flavor cooking spray

4 cups sliced unpeeled apples

½ cup hot water

Directions

Combine the bread crumbs, margarine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, lemon rind and juice and mix until well blended. Put ½ cup of mixture aside for topping. Coat a 1 ½ quart baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle enough of the crumb mixture in the dish to cover the bottom. Add a layer of apples. Sprinkle crumbs over apples. Continue until all of the crumbs and apples are used. Add water. Cover top with ½ cup of crumb topping. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Serve warm. You can add sugar and cream if desired.

These recipes and more can be found in The Auburn Cookbook, a publication of Alabama Extension.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

Making Money Count Workshops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making Money Count

September 2018 Workshops

Thursday, September 20thDecision Making &
Communication/Spending Plan

Friday, September 21st … Credit/Banking/
Power Pay

Time: 10:00am-12:00pm

Location: Parnell Memorial Library
277 Park Drive
Montevallo, AL
35115

Workshop Registration:

Emily Hines#205.757.5393(eah0047@aces.edu)

or Parnell Memorial Library

#205.665.9207

 

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

Extension Offers Diabetes Education Programs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More than 634,000 people in Alabama, live with diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, another estimated 127,000 Alabamians have this disease but don’t know it. Alabama Extension offers various diabetes education programs to citizens across the state.

Donna Shanklin, an Alabama Extension coordinator for Lawrence County, working in human nutrition, diet and health, said these programs go over various things that people with diabetes need to know.

“Agents teach people living with diabetes how to prepare and eat foods that help reduce their blood glucose levels, and how to talk honestly with their doctors about their health concerns and questions.”

Diabetes is when the body cannot produce a sufficient amount of insulin. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention says diabetes is one of the leading causes of death and disability in the U.S. More than 30 million people in the United States are affected by this disease.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes affects many people across the country. People with prediabetes have blood glucose levels higher than normal. These levels, however, are not high enough for that person to be diabetic. Without intervention, many people will develop type 2 diabetes within five years. This puts them at risk for serious health problems, including heart attack, blindness and kidney failure.

Types of Diabetes

There are three main types of diabetes: type 1, type 2 and gestational diabetes (diabetes while pregnant).

  • Type 1 diabetes is diagnosed in children, teens and young adults.
  • Type 2 diabetes most often develops in people over age 45, but more and more children, teens and young adults are developing it. With Type 2 diabetes, cells don’t respond normally to insulin. Called insulin resistance, your pancreas makes more insulin to try to get cells to respond.
  • Gestational diabetes is a type of diabetes that can develop during pregnancy in women who don’t already have diabetes. It affects 2 percent to 10 percent of pregnancies in the United States annually.

Educational Programs on Diabetes

Alabama Extension regional agents in Human Nutrition, Diet and Health provide many educational programs that provide information on diabetes. They provide direct education to individuals or their family members living with the disease. They also help people to understand different issues associated with the disease.

Many hospitals in Alabama offer diabetes education programs also, sometimes in partnership with Extension faculty. Some insurers cover a visit with a registered dietician (RD) who can assist with food concerns, some do not. Ask your health care provider.

More Information

To learn more about diabetes and prevention programs offered, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website here. Also, visit Alabama Extension at www.aces.edu or contact your county Extension office for more information about the Extension diabetes educational programs.

Grilling: Safely for the Summer

Man grilling meat on garden barbecue party, in the background friends eating and drinking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With news stories about food contamination and harmful chemicals appearing almost weekly, it is not surprising that many would-be chefs are taking food preparation more seriously, particularly food safety: Grilling, in fact, is one area of food preparation that needs particular scrutiny.

Is Grilling Safe?

Grilling gets a bad reputation because more people are likely to feel ill after a summer barbeque than after an indoor meal. In reality, however, many cases of food poisoning and upset stomachs are not caused by grilling at all, but may be the result of overindulgence at a picnic, spoiled diary products such as mayonnaise in potato salad, or overexertion (hiking, flag football, etc.) too soon after a meal. Yet with proper preparation and attention to hygiene, grilling is a safe and delicious way to cook meats and vegetables.

Tips for Food Safety: Grilling

Proper food safety has many steps, from buying the food to disposing of leftovers.

Grocery Shopping

Safely grilled food begins with safe grocery shopping. When buying food for the grill, remember these safety tips:

  • Buy meats last when picking up groceries so they are out of refrigeration for the shortest time.
  • If possible, buy meats that are still frozen.
  • Place meats in a plastic grocery bag away from other foods so juice does not drip on other items.
  • If necessary, transport food home in a cooler to keep it cold.
  • Freeze meat immediately if it will not be used within one or two days.

 

Getting Ready for the Grill

Before firing up the grill, food must be properly prepared so it can be safely cooked.

  • Thaw meats completely before grilling so they will cook more evenly.
  • Never thaw meat on the counter – thaw in the refrigerator or in the sink with cool not hot water running.
  • If using a marinade, reserve some for basting or flavoring instead of reusing the sauce that has been in contact with the raw meat. If a marinade must be reused, boil it first to kill any bacteria.
  • Consider precooking meats by boiling or microwaving to lower the amount of grilling time and ensure doneness especially items like large chicken breasts that will take longer cooking times.
  • Wash vegetables to be grilled thoroughly before cooking.
  • If grilling at home, keep meats refrigerated until time to grill.
  • If food needs to be transported to a park or campsite, store it in a cooler in the shade. Do not open the cooler frequently and do not store other foods or drinks in the same cooler.
  • Use clean utensils and platters when handling food.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling food or placing it on the grill and after placing raw meat on the grill if you handled it with your bare hands.

On The Grill

While grilling, it is vital to follow certain precautions to ensure food safety:

Meat should reach a healthy internal temperature to be thoroughly cooked: poultry should reach 165 degrees, burgers 155 degrees, pork 145 degrees, and steaks 145 degrees for medium rare cuts and 160 degrees for medium cuts.

  • Browning and char is not an accurate indicator of thorough cooking; use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
  • If grilling meat and vegetables on the same surface, use separate utensils to handle each type of food and do not allow meat drippings to fall onto vegetables.
  • Use a clean platter for cooked meat; do not place it on the same platter that was used for raw cuts.
  • Keep meat hot until served by moving it away from the fire but keeping it on the heated grill.

Serving

Proper grilling safety should also include serving precautions to ensure that cooked food does not accidentally become contaminated before it is eaten.

  • Wash hands thoroughly before eating or handling food; if restrooms are not available, use anti-bacterial gels or wipes.
  • Discard burned or charred portions before eating; several studies have indicated that soot from char may contain carcinogens and other dangerous chemicals.
  • Cover food on the table to prevent flies or other insects from enjoying a free meal and spreading germs.
  • Do not use insect repellents or other harsh chemicals near food, and choose a table away from restrooms or other insect-attracting locations.

 

Leftovers

Grilling safety precautions should not end when the meal is over. Leftovers need to be treated carefully to ensure they are still safe.

  • Try to gauge portions properly to avoid leftovers if possible.
  • Store leftovers in the cooler immediately and refrigerate as soon as possible.
  • Food left out for more than two hours should be discarded.
  • Leftovers must be reheated to safe internal temperatures before being eaten

 

More Grill Safety

There is more to grilling safety than just safe, thoroughly cooked food. Both charcoal and propane grills can be dangerous if used improperly, and even delicious food can be unappetizing after a grill accident. To prevent problems:

  • Use proper grilling equipment and fuel.
  • Keep children away from the grill area.
  • Do not leave the grill unattended.
  • Trim excess fat from meats to prevent flare-ups from drippings.
  • Use barbeque utensils and heat-resistant mitts to protect hands.
  • Only use a grill in a well ventilated, open area.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby while grilling.

 

In Conclusion

The majority of food bacteria grows between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit, and keeping food at proper hot or cold temperatures is critical for food safety: grilling can also be dangerous, however, if the food is not handled appropriately. From the grocery store the leftover storage container, following proper grilling safety tips can help make summer barbeques a tasty tradition without fear of accidents or illnesses.

 

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Everyone is welcome!

 

 

Look Out for Poisonous Plants

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring and summer months are perfect for outdoor activities. When camping or hiking, it is important to know what plants to avoid. Some poisonous plants can cause harm to humans and animals.

Animals and Humans React Differently

Some plants cause reactions or death in humans, but do not have the same effect on animals. Some animals are deathly effected by some plants, but they do not hurt humans.

Andrew Baril, an Alabama Extension regional agent of forestry, wildlife and natural resources, said when it comes to poisonous plants, animals and humans react differently.

“Humans need to look out for poison ivy, poison oak and sumac and don’t touch it,” Baril said. “Animals don’t normally have a problem with the touching these plants, but if your dog rolls in a patch of poison ivy and you rub the dog, it will get on you.”

According to Baril, dog hair can carry the oils found in these plants.

“They can bring them into a home and the oil can get on carpets, rugs, furniture or wherever they lay,” Baril said. “Oils can remain potent for over a year. Therefore, dogs should be bathed after they had been seen playing in the plants.”

Coming in Contact with Poisonous Plants

Unless someone is severely allergic, generally nothing will happen to a person just touching poison ivy, oak or sumac. Problems occur with these plants when someone crushes the leaves or stem and releases the oils.

“If the oil is allowed to come in contact with skin, a rash will develop for most people,” Baril said “If one does come in contact with the oils, it is best to wash the area with warm water and a mild soap. Don’t scratch the area; just lightly remove as much of the oil as possible.”

Baril said that in his opinion, encountering the oils while burning the plants is worse than touching or crushing them.

“Smoke encountering the eyes, and inhalation into one’s lungs is extremely painful, and could lead to hospitalization and even death,” Baril said.

He offers a few tips on how poisonous plants, and precautions to take to avoid them.

  • Poison ivy and poison oak have leaves with three leaflets, often with a reddish spot where the leaflets attach to the stem.
  • Do not burn any part of these plants.
  • Always wear long pants and close-toed shoes when in wooded areas.
  • Consider application of a preventive lotion, such as Ivy Block, before going outdoors.
  • Always wash clothes immediately upon return from walking in wooded areas.

Don’t Eat Wild Plants

Baril cautioned that touching a poisonous plant can be bad, but eating one can be even worse.

“If you don’t know for sure what plant you are handling, don’t ingest the plant,” Baril said.

Dr. Nancy Loewenstein, an Alabama Extension specialist of forestry and wildlife sciences, said there are wild plants that are editable.

“Unless you’re 100 percent sure you’ve identified a plant correctly and made sure it is edible, don’t eat any wild plants,” Loewenstein said. “Some plants have fruits that look safe to eat, but are not. A few examples are Chinaberry and the Chinese tallowtree.

Chinaberry

Loewenstein says the fruit of Chinaberry (Melia azederach), is the most toxic part of the tree. The leaves, bark and flowers are mildly toxic but usually cause no problems. Swine and sheep are most commonly affected by eating Chinaberry, but children have been poisoned by eating the berries,” she added.

Chinese Tallowtree

Chinese Tallowtree

“All parts of the Chinese tallowtree (Triadica sebifera)plant are poisonous, especially the fruit,” said Loewenstein.

She added that while she believes not many people would be tempted to eat the seeds, eating berries from this tree can cause diarrhea, listlessness, weakness and dehydration. These symptoms may not occur until two to four days after the plant is eaten.

Alabama Extension’s publication, “Poisonous Plants of the Southeastern United States,” goes into detail about the toxicity of dozens of poisonous plants. It also lists symptoms of exposure and treatment after coming in contact with poisonous plants. You can read the full publication here.

There is also the publication “Touch-Me-Nots – Recognizing and Avoiding Poisonous Plants of Alabama.” You can find this publication here.

 

Featured Image: Brett Marshall, Sault College, Bugwood.org

Rash Image: zawafoto/shutterstock.com

Chinese Tallowtree Image: KPG_Payless/shutterstock.com