Is your fridge harboring UFOs?

Thanksgiving dawned clear and slightly cool and was a totally beautiful day. As we have done for several years, we all celebrated at the home of my son and daughter-in-law, and as usual, it was a wonderful celebration. They are always such wonderful hosts and it doesn’t seem to matter to them how many people there are! This year we had a few new faces and now have that many new friends. Two couples had come in from New Mexico to be with their children who are members of his church and were invited to be with us. We really enjoyed their company; as well as the wonderful homemade rolls and snacks they brought to the gathering. Also included this year was my cousin who lives in LaCoste and recently lost her mother; the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of one of my dearest friends, and for the first time ever, my daughter’s mother-in-law, who for a change was not preparing a large noon meal for twenty or more people. She and my daughter baked a turkey on Wednesday, which was served for the evening meal at her home. They were able to do so much of the meal early that it wasn’t a problem. As usual, they allowed me to be with them and see her grandchildren that I mostly see only at this time of the year.
Three of my children were there, missing was the daughter from Galveston who had just been in the weekend before. One of her sons was there, but the other one, who is now stateside, rather than in New Zealand, has a job in Pennsylvania and could not be there! The grandson, who lives near Ft. Worth, was not able to be with us as his wife had to work, and the other grandson was with his wife’s family. Both my youngest and my oldest granddaughters also had to work and were not with us on Thanksgiving Day, but the oldest came in on Friday and we had yet another get-together, with more family members being included. The youngest, with her husband and the rest of the family came by after we had dinner and enjoyed dessert and snacks with us. And, of course the grandson who is stationed in Japan and is at sea at the present time was not only unable to be with us, he was unable to be with his wife and family.
This holiday has truly been a memorable one for me, with six of my ten grandchildren and several of my great-grandchildren being with me.
This week, we’re talking about all those UFOs (unintentionally forgotten objects) in your refrigerator!
It is really best to keep track of what you have in the refrigerator; especially things that have a “use by” or “best if used by” date on them. Eggs are no exception, even though they are not considered leftovers. To check for the freshness of eggs, place one egg in a bowl of cold salted water, if it floats to the surface or turns the wide end up, dispose of it. Any eggs on hand for over five weeks should be discarded. Eggs should be kept in their own container or a covered container on a shelf. The egg keepers that are on the door of the fridge allow the eggs to be subjected to too many changes of temperature and are not really good for storing them. Eggs can be frozen by breaking them into a bowl, and, using a whisk, mix them enough to combine the whites and yolks Add 1½ teaspoons of white corn syrup or sugar OR ¼ teaspoon of salt per one-fourth cup of whole eggs. If you are freezing the whites and yolks separately, you do not need to add anything to the whites, but treat the yolks as if they were whole eggs and follow the above guidelines. To freeze the eggs, measure out into muffin tins at the rate of one-fourth cup of eggs being the equivalent of two eggs. Freeze until solid, remove from muffin tins, and then store in zip closure bags until needed. Thaw in the refrigerator and be sure to use the thawed eggs within 24 hours.
Milk, cream, cheese, sour cream, margarine and butter should always be tightly covered in the refrigerator. A re-sealable plastic bag is great for sticks of butter or margarine. Most bottled milk has a shelf life of about one week after it is opened. If the expiration date is past, discard it. Always be sure to check the expiration date on the foods you purchase. If something is in the cold food case and is expired, call it to the attention of the store or department manager, and refuse to purchase it.
If leftover bits of jams or jellies in the jars in your fridge have turned grainy, it is time to discard them. (Everyone has someone who will put a bottle of jam or jelly back in the fridge with about a teaspoonful left in it!)
When you are cooking, be sure to stay with your cooking and keep an eye on things instead of leaving the room. If something boils over, you want to be there to get the pot off the stove and clean up the mess. Don’t forget to use potholders when handling hot pots or pans as the handles of some pots and pans get just as hot as the sides and bottoms of them do, especially cast-iron skillets and the older saucepans with the metal handles.
Always watch children closely when they are in the kitchen. Be sure to turn pot or pan handles away from the front of the stove. Children are very inquisitive and are liable to grab at a handle and pull something over onto themselves and be burned badly.
When you are in the kitchen yourself, be sure your sleeves are not long and flowing as it is really easy to catch them on fire if they bell out at the wrist, as some robes, gowns and kimonos do.
Be sure your kitchen curtains, if they are near the stove, cannot blow across the burners and catch on fire. Keep cup towels and potholders away from the stove, this means don’t lay them on top of the stove to keep them handy between uses, put them on the counter top instead.
If you should accidentally catch a pan of grease on fire, smother it with a lid; DO NOT try to carry the pan outside. Never use water to put out a grease fire, use baking soda. Salt is also good. To smother a fire in an oven, close the door and turn off the heat source. A fire extinguisher is the best way to put out any fire in your kitchen. If it cannot be put out with a fire extinguisher, it is time to dial 911 for the fire department and get out of the house. Those men know what to do and how best to do it, as well as having the proper equipment.
If you boil something over in your oven, sprinkle it with salt. This will keep the burnt odor to a minimum, and will also make clean up easier.
This past Saturday marked exactly twenty-eight days until Christmas Day, so here are a couple of “gifts in a jar” to get you started on your ‘shopping’. This type of gift is always appreciated and is sometimes much better than going out and buying something they may not particularly want or need. The soup mix is really good and is simple to make. I’ve made gifts of it, using the jar of soup mix, the corn and the tomatoes in a basket or bag.
Texas Tortilla Soup Mix in a Jar
(You will need a wide-mouth pint jar for this)
1 package (1.61 oz) Pioneer® Brown Gravy Mix
2 tablespoons mild red chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
10 regular-sized tortilla chips, coarsely crushed
1 to 1¼ cups uncooked, small to medium sized pasta (such as wheels, shells or elbow macaroni)
Pour gravy mix into wide-mouth pint jar. In small bowl (I use a small jar,) place the chili powder, oregano, cumin, onion, garlic salt and black pepper. Stir or shake to mix well. Pour into jar to make second layer. Add layer of pasta, then crushed tortilla chips. Seal with lid. Makes one jar.
Attach tag with the following directions:
Directions for making soup:
Additional ingredients needed:
½ to 1 pound ground meat
7 cups water
1 can (15-oz) corn with red and green bell peppers
and one can (16-oz) chopped tomatoes
Brown ground meat in large saucepan or Dutch oven.
Add contents of jar, along with water;
heat to boiling, stir in corn and tomatoes.
Reduce heat: cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes
or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.
Serve topped with additional crushed tortilla chips and
shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, if desired.
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Mix
(You will need a 1½ quart food storage jar for this)
1 cup old-fashioned or quick oats
1 cup raisins
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Layer ingredients attractively in any order into the 1½ quart container with a tight-fitting lid. Pack ingredients down slightly before adding another layer; and when finished, close lid. Cover top of jar with fabric; attach gift tag with raffia or ribbon.
Gift Tag:
Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Mix
¾ cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 tbs. milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 jar Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Mix
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
Beat butter in a large bowl until smooth; beat in egg, milk and vanilla until blended. (Mixture may appear curdled.) Add cookie mix to butter mixture and stir until well mixed.
Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of dough 2-inches apart onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake 10 to 11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Let cookies stand on cookie sheets for 2 minutes and remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes 3½ dozen cookies.