This week’s Buzz Bites include a timely reminder of holiday food safety concepts, all of which can be washed down with some new holiday-season cocktails.
Turkey Day safety
Part of the fun of cooking Thanksgiving dinner is knowing you won’t have to cook again for a while. Many people look forward to leftovers of favorite dishes they usually enjoy only this time of year. To keep that part of the celebrations safe and scrumptious, keep the following guidelines from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in mind:
» Start this morning by going through your refrigerator and clearing out all your old leftovers to make room for your Thanksgiving fare. You’ll need to keep cold foods at or below 40 degrees in the fridge.
» Clean as you go to keep bacteria from spreading. Be sure to sanitize your cutting boards, work surfaces and even kitchen sponges with a mild bleach solution to keep them safe. Don’t forget you’ll need to launder your dishcloths and dishtowels, too; keep a stack of clean ones within easy reach while you’re preparing the meal so you can toss the spattered ones in the washer.
» Make sure cooked foods reach proper temperatures — 150 degrees for beef, 160 for pork and 165 for poultry — and cook ground meats until there’s no pink left and the temperature reaches 160 degrees.
» Although Thanksgiving dinner brings people together, raw and cooked foods need to stay as far apart as possible. Don’t let raw meats drip on other foods in the grocery cart, the bag or the fridge. Do not baste with or reuse marinades in which raw meat has soaked; set aside some marinade to baste with later before the raw meat goes in. And if you carry raw meat to the grill or roasting pan on a plate, don’t put any other foods on that plate until it has been washed.
» All good things must come to an end, so be sure to finish your stuffing and gravy within two days and other cooked leftovers within three days. Gravy should be reheated to a rolling boil.
Put a lid on it
And while you’re tackling all the post-Turkey Day cleaning chores, you’ll be glad you picked up that free, reusable can lid from the Albemarle County Service Authority to help store grease, fats and oils in the fridge until they are solid and cold enough to dispose of safely.
Thanksgiving is only the first occasion in a season filled with favorite foods and eating events, which means there will be plenty of opportunities to keep greases and gunk from getting down your drain accidentally and gumming up the works. Some people even actually pour theirs down the drain, assuming that it’ll stay liquid until it reaches the sewer and not realizing that wherever the gunk decides to cool and congeal along the way, it can create epic blockages. Just don’t go there.
To be part of the solution, head to ACSA’s customer service office at 168 Spotnap Road and ask for a reusable lid to take home. If you didn’t get your lid in time for Turkey Day, no problem. The folks at ACSA have estimated that using the lid only once keeps an average of 10 ounces of grease out of the sewer system, so by the time you’re draining the oil from your Super Bowl party hot wings, you’ll have made quite a difference.
Just save a can from groceries you already buy — fruit cocktail, dog or cat food, tuna or your favorite chicken noodle soup — and then pour in the grease from your pots and pans. The lid is designed to fit several different sizes of cans. Pop the reusable lid on the can, place it in the refrigerator and allow the grease to cool and harden. Add more grease the next time you cook. When the can is full and the contents have solidified, just keep the lid and throw the cold can away. An added safety benefit: You won’t be risking an accidental fire caused by plunking a still-warm grease receptacle in your trash can.
ACSA is referring to the fats-oils-grease problem by the acronym FOG to help people remember to dispose of greasy gunk properly, so consider this your seasonal FOG advisory. To learn more about the lid giveaway program, and additional tips to help keep the holidays safe for local water and the environment, go to serviceauthority.org/fog/html.
Grease is the word
ACSA also shared some advice for dealing with the downside of that melt-in-your-mouth deep-fried turkey: the stinky vat of cooking oil left behind.
If you’re cooking your turkey in a deep fryer this year, and you’ve purchased a box of cooking oil for the occasion, do not throw the box away. Save it to follow the directions on the box for allowing sufficient time for the oil to cool and for pouring the oil back into the container. You’ll want to be absolutely certain that the container has cooled completely before you throw it away. If you didn’t remember to save the oil container, there’s an even easier solution: put the fryer in a safe, cool place and let the oil harden on its own. Then you can scoop out the cool, solidified goo and throw it away.
Bonefish Grill is bringing out its holiday cocktails, and one of them even comes with its own bling.
Golden 75 is billed as “the martini you can drink and wear” because, while supplies last, it comes with a bracelet. The drink, created in partnership with Bourbon & Bowties, is $20 and includes Grey Goose vodka, St. Germain, freshly squeezed lemon and simple syrup; it’s completed by sparkling wine and a golden sugar rim.
Treasure Chest Old-Fashioned is made from Woodford Reserve bourbon, house-made vanilla simple syrup, Angostura bitters and Bordeaux cherry, and it comes in a treasure chest sprinkled with edible gold. It’s $13.50.
Winter White Cosmo is back for $9.10. It blends Reyka Vodka, Cointreau, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur, white cranberry juice and fresh lime juice. Look for the floating cranberries.
Bonefish Grill also has made its Bloody Mary Mini Bar a permanent menu item for $12.90. The restaurant’s Bloody Mary is presented on a tray with shrimp, blue cheese-stuffed olives and bacon.
Getting a jump on giving
There’s still time to simplify your gift list with Hospice of the Piedmont’s Dining Around the Area coupon books. The three-decade tradition gives folks a chance to get buy-one, get-one-free deals, substantial allowances and other price breaks in a wide variety of local restaurants. If you’re hoping to make an evening out of dinner and another activity, the booklet also contains buy-one, get-one-free deals for tickets to live theater performances and some half-price tastings at local wineries.
Drop by Hospice’s office at 675 Peter Jefferson Parkway, Suite 300, to pick up your copy for $50. If you’d rather order one online, just go to hopva.org/dining. Bulk pricing discounts are available if you’re buying 10 or more as gifts for family members, business associates and friends; to get the details, call (434) 972-3568.