Blog Archive - November 2011
November 20, 2011
Many cooks are convinced that if you stuff a turkey with the dressing, it will be more flavorful and moist. That may be true. However, the risk of salmonella incubating in the turkey cavity is increased pretty dramatically because of the density of the foodstuff and the difficulty in getting the temperature up quickly and continuously throughout. If your recipe includes cooked giblets, the risk increases because the protein-rich mass of dressing will likely remain at a temperature in the “danger zone”.
I recommend a compromise in roasting that will sabotage salmonella and still create a moist flavorful outcome. Cook the dressing in bread pans in the oven with the turkey. Cover the dressing with foil to hold the moisture. Then stuff the turkey cavity with one or two cored and quartered apples, a small onion quartered, several whole carrots and celery ribs. These items will add moisture and flavor to the turkey. They will end up limp and ugly after roasting and can be removed and tossed out after they have served their purpose.
November 19, 2011
This is a critical step in the turkey preparation! This 3-minute video provides an excellent review of the 3 methods for safe thawing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kimCJEULaL0&feature=related
I recommend the slow thaw in the refrigerator. Make sure the fridge is set at 40 degrees F. or below. Whatever method you choose, plan ahead and follow the directions exactly. Here are the guidelines for thawing times for your reference:
Refrigerator Thawing: Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds.
4 to 12 pounds……….1-3 days
12 to 16 pounds……..3-4 days
16 to 20 pounds……..4-5 days
20 to 24 pounds……..5-6 days
A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before cooking.
Cold Water Thawing: Allow 30 minutes per pound
4 to 12 pounds……….2-6 hours
12 to 16 pounds……..6-8 hours
16 to 20 pounds……..8-10 hours
20 to 24 pounds……..10-12 hours
Microwave Thawing: Check with the manufacturer’s instructions for settings and times. Plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the turkey may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. This temperature allows bacteria like salmonella to flourish between thawing and roasting. A turkey thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately.
November 7, 2011
For me, the decision is not, whether to get a flu shot – but rather, when? and where? Influenza is one nanobugs I really want to avoid – I hate having my sleep interrupted with all that coughing. Fever and body ache are not my thing either. So I get a flu shot every year in the autumn.
One year I went to a local grocery store and I waited in a long line to get my flu shot and another year it was at the Walgreen’s store 5 blocks from my home – short walk but long wait when I got there. I have gone to my physician’s office to get my shot but only by appointment so they can assimilate flu shots into their schedule with the usual office visits.
For my 2011 flu shot, I went to an Urgent Care Center associated with a local hospital on Saturday. They offer flu shots to "walk-ins" from 8-5 on Saturdays. They charged only $20 and there was no wait and no pain. My injection was given by a nurse which I prefer to injection by a pharmacist. (Pharmacists are not trained in injection technique with their education. They are smart people and certainly trainable. But I think they should be focused upon what they do best - accurately filling prescriptions ordered by a physician. The cost of a flu shot this year at Walgreen's is $39.99. Is that because it is given by a pharmacist?) This year the H1N1 virus is a component of the seasonal vaccine so only one shot is needed.
As I drove home on Saturday, I reminisced about my former role as infection control coordinator for a Lincoln hospital. My job included enhancing employee compliance with the hospital’s influenza immunization program. I would always try to be the first injectee and get the hospital photographer to document my compliance. The photo would be published in the hospital internal newspaper along with my invitation to fellow employees to get their shot too. We usually offered little bribes to increase compliance – like a coupon for a free cup of coffee in the cafeteria for anyone who got a flu shot. Kinda crazy – the shots are offered free to employees and yet we had to bribe them to take the free gift. There is a growing movement in American hospitals to make annual flu shots mandatory for their employees - sometimes physicians are included in the mandate but often it remains voluntary for physicians.
Some hospitals purchase Nanobugs influenza tattoos to offer as a reward to employees who get a flu shot. I think this provides an appropriate enhancement of an immunization program. When you apply the tattoo to your forearm, it will last about 10-14 days – the same length of time it takes to develop full immunity after vaccination – makes a nice reminder.
Flu shots are absolutely essential for hospital employees and other healthcare workers. People who are already sick and immune-system challenged, should not be exposed to caregivers who are sick with influenza or incubating the infection and communicable. Additionally, from a human resources perspective, it is important to have employees well and on the job during the flu season when the hospital census increases. If you are a healthcare worker or medical professional or childcare provider or a family member of someone who is elderly or has a chronic illness, then get in line somewhere in the next 2-4 weeks and get your flu shot. Don’t procrastinate. Do it today.
If your usual excuse is you"don't like shots", here are some tips for the wimps and the high achievers: #1. When you get the injection, support your elbow and keep the muscles in your upper arm relaxed. And don’t watch. It will be almost painless. #2. If you still resist the idea of an injection, request FluMist - a mist delivered through the nose. #3 After you get your vaccine, try to get more sleep/rest for next 1-2 nights. The body can focus more on the business of making antibodies if you don’t keep it up late or stress it to the max. Use this immunization event as an excuse to treat yourself nice for at least a day.