A few safety tips before the holidays

My trip to Devine for Thanksgiving was truly great and I didn’t even mind driving home in the rain on Saturday! I have no clue as to when it started raining here, but by the time I got home just before 3:00 p.m., the gauge had 2½-inches and now, by 5:00 p.m., it’s over three-inches, and has been raining some, ever since I got home.
While I was in Devine I was able to see quite a few of my grandchildren, at different times and in different locations. The crowds were not the 20-30 that were together in years past, but it was still a fun time.
Here are a few tips to keep the food items you store in your fridge, safe for you to use.
It is really best to keep track of what you have in the refrigerator; especially the things that have a “use by” or “best if used by” date on them, and believe it or not, eggs are no exception. 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. It is really best if they are kept either in their own carton or another carton that fits in the fridge rather than on the door of the fridge. This storage space, sometimes having a container that is made for eggs is not a good place to keep them as there are too many changes of temperature with the door being opened and closed as many times as it sometimes is during a day.
Milk, cream, cheese, sour cream, margarine and butter should always be tightly covered in the refrigerator. A zip-lock 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.
If leftover bits of jams or jellies in jars have turned grainy, it is time to discard them. (Everyone has someone in the family who will put a bottle of jam or jelly back in the fridge with about a teaspoonful left in it!).
What is really in that dish that is covered in green slime? Only the Shadow knows! Toss it; the tummy you save from e-coli might be your own. You can keep the dish, however, it should be washed really well and rinsed with hot water before being reused. If the dish is a margarine tub or whipped topping tub, I generally toss the whole thing.
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. Always watch children closely if they are in the kitchen with you and be sure to turn the handles of pots and pans to the back or center of the oven. Children are very inquisitive and could grab the handle of a pot or pan and be burned badly by the contents of the container. Keeping the handles to the center or back of the stove is a good idea for yourself also, as you could accidentally knock something off the stove with a sleeve or elbow.
Another thing to think about is to keep your sleeves either short or rolled up when in the kitchen, especially if the sleeves bell out at the wrist. It is really easy to catch this type sleeve on fire if you are not careful. Be sure your curtains cannot billow out over the stove and catch fire, and always keep cup towels and potholders away from the burners as they can quickly ignite.
If you should ever have a pan of grease catch fire, cover the pan with a lid to smother the flames; do not ever try to put out a grease fire with water. Either baking soda or salt is good to use. A fire extinguisher is the best way to put out any fire. If you cannot control the fire with an extinguisher dial 911, those men have the proper equipment and know how to deal with a fire.
If something boils over in your oven (pie filling comes to mind), sprinkle the mess with salt until you can finish baking your pie, the salt will keep the burnt smell down, and the goop will be easy to remove. If you don’t really mind the smell, a little cinnamon sprinkled on it will help also.
And, last, but by no means least, have a smoke detector near your kitchen to alert you in the case you have left something on the stove and have left the kitchen for any reason and forget you have something cooking.
Here are a couple of recipes for making “A gift in a jar”, I’ve used both many times and, in fact, at the Craft Show the Auxiliary participated in (in the days before COVID-19) we sold all we could make for several years in a row.
Soup Mix in a Jar
1 package (1.61 oz) Pioneer® Brown Gravy Mix (The size that makes 2-cups)
2 tablespoons mild red chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
½ teaspoon garlic salt
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 a pint jar. In small bowl, jar or cup, 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.
Attach tag with the following directions:
Directions for making soup:
Additional ingredients needed: ½ pound ground meat, 7 cups water, 1 can (15-oz), corn with red and green bell peppers, and one can chopped tomatoes (16 ounce).
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.
Chocolate Chip Cookies in a Jar
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1½ cups oatmeal
1 cup miniature chocolate chip
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Spoon into a 1-quart wide-mouth canning jar. Layer remaining ingredients in order given, making sure to pack down each layer firmly and clean inside of jar with paper towels after each layer. Decorate as desired. Attach the following instructions: Preheat oven to 350ºF. In a large mixing bowl, cream together ½ cup softened butter or margarine, 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons vanilla until everything is well mixed. Slowly add contents of jar and mix well. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Flatten cookies with glass dipped in sugar*. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until very lightly browned. Makes 3 to 4 dozen.
*Lightly grease or spray bottom of glass, wipe off excess. Dip glass in sugar and flatten cookie. Repeat dipping glass until all cookies are finished.
You will need a wide mouth quart jar for this recipe, or if you have a decorative jar with a tight fitting lid that will hold a quart, you can use that.
Cinnamon Christmas Ornaments (non-edible)
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ½ cups cinnamon
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon oil
Mix together in bowl with hands. Knead and roll out to about ½-inch thickness. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. (Gingerbread boy shapes are cute with this.) Poke hole on top with drinking straw. Dry flat for 2 days, turning 3 to 4 times. Makes about 25 ornaments (3-inch diameter.)
Kids love to help with holiday preparations, especially those that let them use their creativity.