Bring Summer’s Bounty to the Table

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the amounts of delicious fruits and vegetables a successful #garden can produce or the variety and bounty of the local farmers market. Many #summer #vegetables can go directly on the grill, says Delish, including zucchini, eggplant, green beans, onions and corn. Many popular crops don’t even require heat to create a fresh and healthy meal: Tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce, for example, can be dressed lightly to create a simple salad. Or just rinse that tomato, slice it, and eat it with a little salt and pepper. Store-bought just doesn’t taste the same! #SummerGarden

Food Safety and the Summer Cookout

Only a week in, this #summer is shaping up to be a hot one for much of the United States. It’s also prime time for family #cookouts, so the home chef would do well to review #food #safety practices for hot weather to head off any health issues that could ruin an otherwise festive event.

An estimated one in six people gets sick from a #foodborne illness each year. Granted, not every foodborne illness results from a #picnic or #cookout, but that seasonal combination of food, outdoor living, shared dishes, heat and pests makes them especially vulnerable.

Mayonnaise-based salads are notorious for spoiling in the sun. Limit cold foods’ potential to harbor harmful bacteria by keeping them indoors until needed, says Martha Stewart, use a cooler to maintain refrigeration, and serve foods such as shrimp over an ice bath.

Other common-sense tips apply whether you grill outdoors or prepare something in the kitchen. First and most obvious? Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before preparing any foods — and wash them again after handling raw meat, fish and egg yolks.

Cross-contamination — the process in which bacteria spreads from food or poorly washed hands to other surfaces — is a problem, Consumer Reports says. Never use the same cutting board for meat and produce, and avoid reaching for the spices or condiments after handling raw meat.

#Clean your grill properly by scrubbing the grates with a grilling brush. Use a food thermometer to cook foods to the proper internal temperatures to ensure that any harmful bacteria burn off: Cook cuts of red meat and fish to a reading of at least 145°F, ground meats to 160°F, and pork and poultry to 165°F.

After the feast, food storage is just as important. Cooked foods should be refrigerated in less than two hours when the outdoor temperatures are under 90°F, and that limit drops to one hour when the temperatures soar. If you don’t know how long something has been sitting or it starts to look/smell a little suspect, throw it out.

Keep your summer cookouts fun for everyone! Protect yourself, your family and your guests from the potential of foodborne illnesses.

Enjoying the Bounty of a Summer Garden

For many people, there’s nothing like growing your own food. It’s healthy, cost-effective, #sustainable and above all, delicious! And if you followed some of The Organizing Blog’s previous #gardening tips, you’re probably drowning in fresh summer produce right now.

What to do with all of those garden-fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, squashes, melons, peaches and other delicacies is the question. If you’re anything like us, you planted with abandon eight to 10 weeks ago, and now must do whatever you can to make the most of that fresh produce.

One way is to share some of that bounty with friends, family and neighbors who don’t have the same amount or variety of produce. Whether they have the space or the ambition to grow their own fresh food or not, nobody is going to turn their nose up at a ripe heirloom tomato.

Another way to take advantage of summer’s bounty is to try a new recipe (or several). Base your meal plan on whatever produce you have in abundance, and you may wind up discovering a dish that you can revisit again even in the off-season.

Speaking of the off-season, there are plenty of ways to keep and store some of that produce for cloudier and colder days. Too many tomatoes? Make and freeze some marinara for a lasagna. Got lots of corn? Cut it off the cob and freeze the kernels in bagged portions for anytime use.

Many summer fruits and vegetables can be processed, portioned and frozen quickly for later use including peaches, plums, watermelon and peppers. Got bumper crop of basil? Make pesto ice cubes and pull one out any time you need to flavor a pasta or meat dish.

Freezing summer produce can make it last up to six months, but if you really want to put things up like the pioneers, try your hand at home canning. It’s simpler than it sounds, and you can make tons of sauces, pickles and jams that you can tap into for months — or give as gifts.

Even if you didn’t grow your own fruits and vegetables this year, don’t let summer’s bounty go to waste. Visit a local farmers market to get some of the freshest, healthiest foods you’ll taste all year. (And get enough to share!)

Target the Fridge During Winter Cleaning

Winter is the perfect time to clean out the refrigerator, especially if you have rarely used specialty foodstuffs that didn’t get used up during the holidays. Before you go shopping for the week, empty the fridge out and wash the drawers, doors and shelves with warm, soapy water, says House Beautiful. Rinse and dry the interior, and sort the many bottles, boxes and jars to #purge the things you don’t use or need — starting with anything that is obviously spoiled or of suspect freshness. Once the interior is clean, put what you’ll be keeping back in an #organized manner.

How to Sanitize Those Delivery Boxes

According to the latest information, the novel #coronavirus can stay infectious on cardboard surfaces for up to 24 hours. The CDC hasn’t offered any guidance on whether you should disinfect packages before they enter your home, but a spritz of bleach solution or quick wipedown never hurts. Neither food nor food packaging has caused any known cases of COVID-19 so far, according to the Food & Drug Administration; but as you stay in and cook more, remember to observe proper food handling and storage procedures.