Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

Table with Thanksgiving dishes and beverages.

Once again, as November rolls around, we begin to get questions about preparing Thanksgiving dinner and ensuring food safety. Our educators have done a great job of creating resources on our Michigan State University (MSU) Extension website. A year ago, I blogged about their work, and it was my most-read November post, so I thought it would be helpful to post it again this year in case you get calls to your offices or questions from loved ones.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.  

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Thanksgiving resources for Michigan residents

A pumpkin pie with a piece cut out and sitting on a dish.

Photo by alcinoe at Morguefile.com

I don’t know about your offices, but here in the Director’s office, we get a lot of calls in November with questions about preparing for Thanksgiving dinner and food safety. Our educators have done a great job of getting out that information and resources on our website. I thought I’d mention some here in case you get any questions in your office or even from friends and family.

In “Be Thankful for Food Safety This Thanksgiving,” Michigan State University (MSU) Extension health and nutrition educator Jane Hart guides us through all of our favorite foods – turkey, stuffing, relish and pumpkin pie – and tells us how to make sure that they are safe to eat.

Jeannie Nichols, health and nutrition educator, writes about two U.S. Department of Agriculture recommendations for preparing and cooking your Thanksgiving turkey, or any poultry for that matter. In her article, Jeannie explains why the USDA recommends that you do not rinse it before cooking it and that you do make sure it is cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. She also explains how to most effectively measure it.

Need some help with thawing times for turkey? Laurie Messing, health and nutrition educator, shares the safe ways to thaw food in her article “Thawing the Thanksgiving Turkey.”

If you won’t have time to thaw your turkey, Jeannie writes about how to safely roast a frozen one in her “Frozen Turkey for Thanksgiving” article.

Learn from health and nutrition educator Beth Waitrovich why the USDA recommends cooking stuffing outside of your turkey.

After the last forkful of pumpkin pie, many of us have leftovers to save – another important moment in food safety. Laurie explains how to properly store and use leftover turkey.

Looking for a new recipe to try with your turkey leftovers? Beth has a quick and easy turkey soup with vegetables that will be perfect for those chilly couple of days after the holiday.

Need help in a pinch on Thanksgiving Day? Thankfully, Laurie shares with us that the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by food safety specialists, will be answering food safety questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Eastern Time. The phone number is 1-888-674-6854.

Lastly, to refer people to safe food and water experts in their area, visit our MSU Extension website.

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Great Thanksgiving and Holiday advice … From all of YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving and no one should be checking their email, I thought I would make this week’s Spotlight a little shorter and send it today, so that you can all get to your families and celebrations.

You are all amazing, and the following highlighted articles are receiving tremendous hits – 1,403 in the last 30 days! This is just a small sampling, and many others have had a lot of success as well. A lot of you have used this holiday as a launching point to create informative and timely articles on the Michigan State University Extension website. Here’s a sampling of the articles I’ve seen!

To make sure you’re safe in the kitchen while preparing such a huge meal, make sure you follow these tips to keep safe from kitchen fires. And if you haven’t properly thawed your turkey yet, you might want to cook it frozen. Also, did you know that cooking stuffing inside the turkey might not be the safest way to cook it? Learn more in the video below:

You may have kids home this week that are very excited about Thanksgiving and the holiday season beginning, and you can help them appreciate it more by explaining why we eat cranberries at Thanksgiving, or by teaching them to appreciate the science behind mashed potatoes and gravy.

I know that some of you will be starting your holiday shopping this weekend, so look to your colleagues for advice on choosing the right Christmas tree and keeping that tree fresh through the holiday season. You might also want to create a budget for your Christmas presents so that you don’t break the bank and learn more about the return policies for stores where you’ll be buying presents before you camp out for Black Friday deals.

After this weekend is over, don’t forget about food safety. Throw out any remaining leftovers to keep your family safe. You may also consider inviting friends and neighbors to partake in your festivities while the food is still fresh, to help those struggling with hunger in your community.

I am thankful for all of you and the excellent education and service you provide for the people of the state of Michigan. Have safe travels and food preparation! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Enjoy your turkey ‒ or your turducken ‒ this Thanksgiving

We have so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. It’s the beginning of the “high season” for the turkey industry, with a focus on turkey dinners as the focus of family gatherings from now through the end of the year. I enjoy the annual effort to select, prepare and roast (I’m not a fryer) the turkey for our family gathering. We usually stick to traditional fare, though my favorite twist from the norm is to substitute a sweet potato pie for the more traditional pumpkin. The secret ingredient in my sweet potato pie recipe – a distilled product from the state of Kentucky – really adds a special flavor to dessert.

Other people take even more license with the traditional menu for Thanksgiving, and one you can learn more about from Michigan State University Extension is the turducken. I’m not making this up! This is a substitute for the traditional turkey that is a layered poultry dish consisting of a deboned chicken inside of a deboned duck inside of a deboned turkey. This is not April Fools! Folks also come up with hundreds of ways to cook a traditional turkey rather than just stuffing it and popping it into the oven.

Michigan State University Extension educator Jeannie Nichols has produced articles on this subject. Check out two articles titled “Downright Unsafe Ways to Cook Your Turkey” offered in Part I and Part II.

She’ll let you know the safe way to cook a turducken in case you’re wondering. And if you have a hankering to cook your turkey all night in the oven, she’ll tell you the proper way to do that. If you want to cook your turkey in paper bags or even in trash bags, Jeannie’s advice is to nix both ideas and use a food grade commercial cooking bag.

Of course, she bases all of her advice on research from the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.

In addition to Jeannie’s article, MSU Extension educator Lucia Patritto wrote three articles titled “Extension Professionals Are a Good Resource for Thanksgiving Food Questions.” I agree! Read these articles to find answers to questions such as “How much turkey should I buy?” and “What’s the safest way to thaw a turkey?”

So enjoy your turkey – or your turducken ‒ this Thanksgiving, but please enjoy it by using safe methods of preparation following expert advice.

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4-H volunteers learn pie making and use their knowledge to give back to the community

What started out as an opportunity to teach pie making became a community service project involving 30 adult and youth volunteers distributing pies to Shiawassee County families for their holiday meals. Last year’s 4-H Pies for the Holidays event was so successful that it was repeated this year and may become an annual event. On Oct. 8, Michigan State University Extension Shiawassee County 4-Hvolunteers used their 4-H Food Stand space located on the Shiawassee County Fairgrounds to train 4-H members and adult volunteers in the art of classic pie making. Volunteers got back to basics when they learned to make crust, peel apples and assemble the pies. The pies were given to schools that provide the ingredients for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, such as turkey and all of the fixings, to families with limited resources. The 4-H pies serve as dessert.

4-H volunteers peel and prepare apples.

4-H volunteers peel and prepare apples for pies created as part of the 4-H Pies for the Holidays event in Shiawassee County on Oct. 8, 2011. Photo courtesy of 4-H volunteer Kim Unterbrink.

 Volunteers created 204 pies using 100 pounds of flour, 90 pounds of sugar, 12 bushels of apples and many other ingredients. They packaged the unbaked pies in boxes that included baking instructions. Families who receive the pies can enjoy the aroma and experience of baking the pies as well as enjoy the delicious flavor.

 This is just another example of the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility in action. Volunteers took a learning experience and created a way to take what they learned to make a difference in the community.

 Said MSU Extension educator Jennifer Weichel, “This event is totally volunteer-driven, organized and run. Elaine Prine, a 4-H volunteer, came up with the idea of teaching pie making and through group discussion, it grew into 4-H Pies for the Holidays. I support the activity through promotion of the event, but all of the credit goes to the 4-H volunteers that make this event reality.”

4-H Volunteers prepare the topping

4-H volunteers prepare the topping for pies created as part of the 4-H Pies for the Holidays event in Shiawassee County on Oct. 8, 2011. Photo courtesy of 4-H volunteer Kim Unterbrink.

 Jennifer would also like to thank the people and businesses who donated supplies.

 By the way, the 4-H Food Stand is owned and operated by the Shiawassee County 4-H Council. It’s open during Fair Week and for horse shows that use the fairgrounds from May to October. The 4-H Food Stand supports 4-H opportunities for leaders and members such as Kettunen Center workshops, leader and member awards, trips and similar experiences.

Sample Pie

A completed pie is packed in a box that includes instructions. The pies, ready to bake to be enjoyed on the holidays, were created as part of the 4-H Pies for the Holidays event in Shiawassee County on Oct. 8, 2011 . Photo courtesy of 4-H volunteer Kim Unterbrink.

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Thanks and giving

On the eve of our annual feast, I am reminded of the close connection between this holiday and 4-H. One of the capstone events available through 4-H is the National 4-H Congress, and it begins on the Friday after Thanksgiving and ends on the following Tuesday. National 4-H Congress used to be held in Chicago, and although I wasn’t in Michigan at that time, I can imagine that quite a few Michigan 4-H youth participated in that event. Today’s National 4-H Congress has changed considerably. It has moved south, presented in Atlanta, Georgia, each year instead of Chicago. And the event has taken a turn towards service, recognizing youth for their service in 4-H, and then reinforcing that with speakers and events that give great examples of others who have served their clubs, their communities, their country or their world. Eighteen 4-H youth from Lapeer, Shiawassee, Ingham, Monroe, Hillsdale, Branch, Menominee, Marquette and St. Joseph counties will represent Michigan, this year. They will be joined by Pat Waugh, Michigan State University Extension 4-H youth educator from Lapeer County, and Frank Cox, 4-H youth educator from Muskegon County, as leaders and chaperones.  Chelsea Carl, 4-H youth from Branch County, was selected from a national application pool to serve on the 2012 National 4-H Congress Youth Leadership Team. I serve on the Board of Directors for National 4-H Congress and will join the group in Atlanta early next week in time for the board meeting, which follows the closing of the event. Monday is the highlight of the event from my perspective. That is the day when all of the youth, gathered from across the nation, go into the schools and neighborhoods of Atlanta to carry out service projects. Youth also raise funds to help pay for the construction of a new home through Habitat for Humanity. So as many of us are tempted to sleep in on Friday morning (or go shopping), keep in mind those youth from Michigan and elsewhere who will be heading out for Atlanta.

 The connection between 4-H and Thanksgiving reminded me of a story I posted just a few weeks ago about a youth from Kent County, Nate Seese, whose service is the subject of a video contributed as part of the 4-H Revolution of Responsibility campaign. Nate tells the story of deciding to donate the meat from livestock he raised as part of his 4-H project to a local food bank to help ensure that families facing budget challenges would still have access to protein in their diets. Nate’s desire and commitment to give is inspiring for all of us. And as is so often the case, his generosity draws out generosity from others – the bidders at the 4-H auction agree to make the livestock available for the food bank, a local meat locker agreed to donate their butchering and preparation services, and the food bank volunteers help to distribute the meat. National 4-H Council hosted Cooperative Extension directors and administrators from across the country at a luncheon in San Francisco recently, a part of the program at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) Convention. During the luncheon, Andy Ferrin, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at National 4-H Council, showed Nate’s video to the entire group gathered for lunch. I was humbled to see Nate’s story told again – humbled by his generosity and inspired by his leadership. Ultimately, the Thanksgiving holiday is a holiday that reminds us that we depend on others around us in so many ways. Those who grow crops and livestock, those who get food to the store or market where we buy it, those who help us understand how to prepare food safely, and on and on. The best way to express thanks is to give. And Nate reminded me of that with his story. Enjoy this unique and special holiday as many 4-H youth will in Atlanta this weekend – by giving to others.

 

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Extension educator gives tips on holiday food safety on WJR

Thanksgiving is a week away. Wait, is that right?  Oh my, I am SO far behind in preparing for that! Anyway, it is a great time to focus on the things we are thankful for, and let’s face it, it’s a great time to eat! Have you ever wondered if those turkey pop-up timers are really accurate? Heck, I have two meat thermometers because I don’t believe them and I’m afraid I’ll get one of them too close to a hot bone. And after a delicious and sometimes sleep-inducing holiday meal, how long can you safely leave the food sitting out until someone musters enough energy or wakes up enough to start putting it away? Learn those answers and more when you listen to Michigan State University Extension educator Jeannie Nichols’ conversation with Kirk Heinze on “Greening of the Great Lakes” on WJR 760 AM.

 Jeannie will share her holiday food safety expertise at 2:08 p.m. this Sunday, Nov. 20. The second part of the conversation will air the following Sunday, Nov. 27, at 7:08 p.m. when she’ll discuss what to do with your food in the freezer in case of a power outage and other food safety issues. If you don’t want to wait till then, you can listen online to both segments combined at MLive.com at http://goo.gl/MDFVe, or visit the “Greening of the Great Lakes” Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/GOTGL. It’s great to have this kind of visibility for our expertise, and Jeannie does a great job of making it clear that food safety isn’t something to take lightly.

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