What Is True/Slant?
275+ knowledgeable contributors.
Reporting and insight on news of the moment.
Follow them and join the news conversation.
 

Jul. 1 2010 - 12:47 pm | 207 views | 1 recommendation | 2 comments

Fourth of July Fixins: Safety Dos and Don’ts

It’s the eve of America’s love fest with fire, flags and frankfurters. Before we get this red-white-and-blue jamboree started,  let’s inhale some pre-barbecue air and fasten our food safety seat belts.

The pointers that follow may seem ridiculously obvious, but they bear repeating; in the heat of the charcoaled moment, some of the smartest people I know start doing stupid stuff like this guy:

So, before you don those beer googles, do put on that thinking cap and wear it all weekend if you can, particularly if food and the great outdoors are involved.   A handful of my tried-and-true tips for safe outdoor feasting:

1. Keep cold things cold and hot things hot. The “danger zone” for food-borne bacteria is 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit.   At home, keep those salads and sides cold until serving; while out at the park or beach, keep the cold stuff in a cooler and return to the cooler when not using.  Stuff that sits out on the picnic table is an open invitation for bacteria to party like it’s 1999.

2. Clean that grill grate. I mean, give it a really good scrub with a wire brush and get rid of stuck-on bits of food and carbon build-up.  A clean grill is a happy grill — more efficient, less moody.

3. Charcoal grillers, do me, your neighbors and the ozone layer a favor:  Give up the lighter fluid, once and for all, and let go of those petroleum distillates.  Instead, buy a chimney starter to fire up those coals.  Think of it as a new toy rather than a flame buzzkill. It’ll set you back about $15 and will last a whole lot longer than a 64-ounce squeeze bottle of the liquid starter.

4. If you don’t already own one (and you should, doggone it), treat yourself to an instant-read thermometer to know when your meat has arrived at a safely cooked temperature. Pork, beef and lamb can be cooked to varying degrees, depending on preference.

Keep in mind these temperature checkpoints: Medium rare is 125 or so; medium is 135ish and well-done is 160 degrees.  I’m aware that some of this doneness advice conflicts with the earlier mentioned  ‘danger zone’ warning, but I’m also not going to discourage you from a medium-rare steak if that’s what rocks your world. Commonsense is key here.  Chicken, however, must be cooked thoroughly, to a ballpark of 160-165 degrees.

If meat is your thing, may I put in a word for sourcing those chops, burgers and steaks locally from a butcher or a farmer — a person you can have a conversation with about how the animal was raised and processed, rather than at no-name meat counter or frozen aisle of products from an industrial feedlot from any number of locations around the world.

5.  Drink plenty of water and alcohol in moderation.  And if you’re drinking the hard stuff, designate a driver. The car will be there the morning after, and we’d like you to be, too.

Champing at the bit for more Fourth Feasting tidbits? Join me at 1 ET (10 a PT) for my live chat on Culinate.

Here’s to a safe and scrumptious Fourth weekend!


Comments

2 Total Comments
Post your comment »
 
  1. collapse expand

    Let’s remember what the Fourth of July of all about….the violent overthrow of an oppressive government….which wasn’t half as oppressive as the current regieme in D.C.

    It wasn’t about safety, it was about killing redcoats and drivi8ng them back to england

Log in for notification options
Comments RSS

Post Your Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment

Log in with your True/Slant account.

Previously logged in with Facebook?

Create an account to join True/Slant now.

Facebook users:
Create T/S account with Facebook
 

My T/S Activity Feed

 
     

    About Me

    You might know me from The Washington Post, where for a dozen years I dished up cooking content, both as Web chat hostess ("What's Cooking") and daily blog minx ("A Mighty Appetite").

    To the table, I offer a stew of journalism (total = 16 years) and cooking smarts (a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education), served with a side of life-long curiosity.

    Home is Seattle for now, but until last year was parked on the east coast, born and raised outside of Philadelphia, where H20 is pronounced "wooder."

    In addition to the Post, I have written for Real Simple, Smithsonian.com and Culinate, where I host "Table Talk," a weekly chat every Thursday (1 pm ET/ 10a PT).

    Send story ideas, questions and crumbs to: writingfoodATgmail.com

    You can follow me on twitter, too: twitter.com/kimodonnel

    See my profile »
    Followers: 96
    Contributor Since: April 2009
    Location:Seattle

    What I'm Up To

    About “Licking Your Chops”

    Coming in September: The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook (Da Capo Press). Now available for pre-order on Amazon, BN.com, Indie Bound and Powell’s.

    KOD’s Recipe Index — all the how-to details linked from one page

    T&T Honor Roll: Hats off to Those Who Took the Tempeh & Tofu Challenge.