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Category: December 2016

It’s Cookie Time!

Sugar CookiesThe holidays bring the joy of time with family and friends! One tradition is making cookies to share. With recent recalls of contaminated flour, it is important to handle cookie dough safely to not spoil holiday fun.

Many cookies are shaped with your hands. Resist the temptation to lick your fingers or sample the cookie dough! Risks from eating raw eggs and now uncooked flour, can increase your risk of getting a foodborne illness. Regardless of the brand or source of flour or eggs, the risk of foodborne illness is present when consumed raw.

Be sure hard surfaces to roll out cookie dough are clean and sanitized before and after dough has been in contact with the surface.

As always, wash your hands before and after handling cookie dough or any raw foods. Follow recipe instructions for baking cookies at proper temperatures and specified times.

For more information, see:


Clean the Fridge for the Holidays

While November 15 is designated as “National Clean Your Fridge Day” day, this cleaning should happen often throughout the year.

Wipe up spills immediately, clean surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water; then rinse. Once a week, make it a habit to throw out perishable foods that should no longer be eaten. Storage time for cooked leftovers is 4 days; raw poultry and ground meats, 1 to 2 days.  Avoid using solvent cleaning agents, abrasives, and all cleansers that may impart taste to food or ice cubes, or cause damage to the interior finish of your refrigerator. For more information, go to  “Refrigeration and Food Safety.”

An Egg a Day May Reduce Risk of Strokes

When buying eggs, always open the carton and check eggs for cracks or other damage.

Over the years, eggs have been scrutinized for their role in the human diet. Nutrition experts have gone back and forth about the daily consumption of eggs and cardiovascular health.

In a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, they report that dietary cholesterol, which includes one egg per day, is not a concern for strokes and coronary heart disease (CHD) risks.

In a review of research up to August 2015, the researchers looked at seven studies on egg intake and stroke and seven studies on egg intake and CHD. The meta-analysis showed a statistically significant 12% lower risk of stroke. There was no association of egg intake and CHD.

Eggs are a low cost, nutrient dense food that can be beneficial in the every day diet. One egg is considered as one ounce-equivalent in the Protein Foods Group of the MyPlate guidelines.


Preserving Horseradish

Horseradish makes its greatest growth during late summer and early autumn. For this reason, delay fall harvest until late October or early November, or just before the ground freezes.

Store horseradish roots for fresh grinding in dark plastic wrapping in the refrigerator. Protect the roots from light to prevent their turning green.

The most common way to preserve horseradish is pickled. This pungent sauce is stored in the refrigerator. For instructions see

Make a Horseradish-Tomato Relish using this recipe from Oregon State University


It’s Citrus Season!


As we approach the winter months, a plethora of citrus fruits populate the fresh produce section of grocery stores. One of the more popular citrus fruits is the Mandarin family of small oranges that include clementines, tangerines and satsumas.

Satsumas as small, loose skinned fruits known as “honey citrus” because of their sweet flavor. Their skin is thin and easy to peel and usually seedless. These tender fruits are typically sold in boxes to protect them from damage during transportation. Originally from the Satsuma region of Japan, they are now grown in Northern California.

Clementines are a hybrid of the Mandarin tree. They are also sweet,  thin skinned, and should feel soft. They are highly perishable, so refrigerate if not eaten within 2 to 3 days.

Fine Cooking, Oct/Nov 2016


Life Before the Food and Drug Administration

Poison Squad
Photo: USDA Flickr

Consumer activists have championed their causes for hundreds of years. In the 1880s, Dr. Harvey W. Wiley, M.D. was the champion for safe food. He is known as the “Father of the Pure Food and Drugs Act” and also directed the Bureau of Foods, Sanitation, and Health for Good Housekeeping magazine.

In 1902, as the chief chemist at what is now the Department of Agriculture, Dr. Wiley organized a volunteer group of healthy men known as the Poison Squad. These men were tasked to eat foods that contained chemicals and adulterated foods to see how it affected them. No women were allowed in this group. As a result of these dangerous tests, Federated Women’s Clubs and commercial canners changed many procedures and methods to make food safer. In June 1906, the Pure Food and Drugs Act was signed into law, leading into the creation of the Food and Drug Administration.

When Dr. Wiley left his government position in 1912, the news headline read: “Women Weep as Watchdog of the Kitchen Quits after 29 Years.”


Blood Spots in Eggs

While not very appetizing to discover when you crack open a fresh egg, blood spots are not harmful.

According to the American Egg Board, blood spots are “occasionally found on an egg yolk. These tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Instead, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct.

Mass candling methods reveal most eggs with blood and those eggs are removed. However, even with mass scanners, it’s impossible to catch them all.”

“Both chemically and nutritionally, eggs with blood spots are fit to eat. You can remove the spot with the tip of a knife, if you wish.”


Sweet Potato vs. Yam

YamsWhen searching the canned vegetable aisle, you’ve probably seen cans of yams. Are they the same as sweet potatoes? The truth is, what we call a yam is actually a sweet potato. It is likely you’ve never tasted a yam!

The sweet, orange-colored vegetable is truly a sweet potato. A true yam is from the Dioscorea genus and is imported from the Caribbean. It has a rough, scaly exterior and is more white in color due to low beta-carotene content.

Sweet potatoes can vary in color from white, to orange, to purple. The traditional orange variety was introduced several decades ago and were labeled as “yams” which is the English form of the African word “nyami.”

Test your knowledge of sweet potatoes and yams with this quiz from the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission.


After the Hunt: Preserving Venison

Hunting season is in full swing. Prepare ahead of time to handle your prize catch quickly and safely.

For resources on handling wild game, go to the following resources:

Preserving Venison

Storing Holiday Leftovers

Plastic containersPlastic food containers are great ways to save leftovers or other foods. But over time, plastic can warp, stain, or remain greasy.

Many types of plastic containers are available, but many are designed for one-time use only. This includes takeout containers and dairy food cartons.

For reusable containers, wash them with hot soapy water or on the top rack of your dishwasher. Use the low- or no-heat drying cycle in the dishwasher.

To remove stains, let the empty container sit in the direct sun a few hours. Or, soak in a mild bleach solution of 2 teaspoons plain bleach per gallon of water.

For smelly plastic containers, soak them in a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda per cup water or fill with undiluted vinegar.

For more tips, see