Labor Day Grilling
With Labor Day weekend a popular time for cookouts and persistent drought conditions throughout most of the state, Texas AgriLife Extension experts have been advising additional caution about fire and food safety.
Three out of four household have an outdoor grill, and cookouts are a huge Labor Day weekend tradition. If you plan to do a family cookout at a park or during a camping trip, check to see if there's a burn ban in effect so you don't arrive, only to find out you aren't allowed to grill. In addition, there can be some stiff fines for defying a burn ban.
AgriLife Extension experts, the National Fire Protection Association, and others offer these outdoor grilling tips:
Along with food safety, food safety is another important factor to consider when grilling or cooking outdoors. You certainly don't want Labor Day to be remembered as the time someone got sick from foodborne illness.
Start by keeping grilling workspace clean. Select meat, poultry or seafood that is fresh and of high quality. At the grocery store, select your meat last and get it home as soon as possible. If the trip from the grocery store to your home is more than 30 minutes, take a cooler for your refrigerated items. Poultry, fish, seafood or ground beef should be cooked or frozen within two days. Steaks and pork chops should be should be cooked or frozen within five days.
Make sure hands, cooking areas and utensils are clean. If you are cooking away from home and not sure about the water source, take your own water and paper towels. Keep in mind to use a clean platter for cooked meat to avoid cross-contamination. If you've placed raw meat or fish on a platter before grilling, do not use that same plate to serve the food unless it has been cleaned with hot, soapy water first!
Cook all poultry to 165 degrees, fully cooked meats like hot dogs to 165 degrees, and hamburgers to 160 degrees. Beef, pork, lamb, veal steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to at least 145 degrees.
After cooking, keep the food hot - otherwise eat or refrigerate it right away. Keep food covered and never let it sit out for more than two hours. If the weather is 90 degrees or hotter, eat or store it within one hour.
Have fun over the Labor Day weekend, and remember to keep your food safe!
Household Arts Contest
I hope you are gathering your entries for the 2012 Fall Festival Household Arts Contest! There is an age division and entry category for everybody! You may go to http://hopkins.agrilife.org and click on publications for a list of categories. Keep in mind that you may bring your entries to the Extension Office prior to September 13, or you may register your items during regular times: Thursday, September 13, 4:30 to 6:00 p.m., or Friday, September 14, from 7:30 to 10:00 a.m. at the Sulphur Springs High School Conference Center.
Entries will be judged Friday morning and open to the public from approximately 1:30 till 5:00 p.m., and on Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30. Pictures of Best of Show and Reserve Best of Show winners will be made at 1:30 on Saturday, and entries may be checked out beginning at 1:45 p.m.
Can't sleep? Try counting your blessings.
Johanna Hicks, B.S., M.Ed.
Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Agent
1200-B W. Houston
P.O. Box 518
Sulphur Springs, TX 75483
903-885-3443 - phone
903-439-4909 - fax