If you’re like us, you pack up your favorite side dishes to bring over to the Thanksgiving Day celebration adding to the cornucopia of foods on the table. We prepare the food a good deal in advance and then race around the house getting ourselves (and for Tammy, her kids) ready for the celebration.
Two years ago on Thanksgiving Day, Tammy was so busy changing diapers, getting the baby twins dressed up, packing the car and cleaning the house, that by the time we arrived at our Mom’s house for Thanksgiving she realized the perishable food she brought (mashed potatoes and cauliflower made with skim milk, the shrimp cocktail appetizer and the Veggies and hummus) were out of the refrigerator for five hours! She wound up tossing the food, afraid that it would make the family sick.
Don’t let what happened to Tammy happen to you! Pay attention to how much time goes by when you finish cooking your food until your dish is eaten. In all the distractions that come with catching up with friends and family, it will be easy to forget about food and leave it out too long; this potentially invites bacteria to join your feast. If it is out for more than 2 hours, think about putting it into the refrigerator, or if traveling, place it in a cooler. If you want to keep it hot, try packing it in an insulted bag to keep it warm and reheat it at your destination.
If at home and preparing well in advance, a new tip is to place warm foods into the refrigerator promptly after cooking it. These days refrigerators are thermostat controlled and powerful enough to keep the temperature constant. Previous beliefs held that hot food would raise the overall temperature environment potentially affecting other food. By placing your foods in the refrigerator right away and in a shallow dish, you will make sure that it stays fresh and safe for everyone to enjoy come meal time.
Have a great Holiday feast and remember the only thing you should be stuffing is the bird, so try for small portions so you can enjoy a little of everything or just save your calories for your most favorite foods!