Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Food Safety for Leftovers

By Denise Derrer of Indiana State Board of Animal Health

Grandma is bringing over her famous green bean casserole and Aunt Betty can’t call it Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes smothered in mini marshmallows.  Oh, the variety of food is endless at the holidays.  

Unfortunately, the size of our stomachs and pants is not.  At the end of the feasting you survey what remains.  You just can’t fathom throwing away the extra food from those yummy dishes so you divide them into various storage containers and go about your holiday. 

Fast forward a few days and you’re staring at your bulging refrigerator trying to decide if it’s safe to eat Grammy’s leftover green bean casserole.  Remember, leftovers can be kept for 3 to 5 days, so you think you’re safe.  But wait.  Now you can’t remember which foods were eaten at which get-together—and they spanned the entire weekend. 

This problem can be solved easily and quickly.  Simply take the time to write the date on the outside of all your storage containers. 

The hustle and bustle of preparing for the Thanksgiving feast does not leave any time to sit down, let alone create labels.  Take this time to get your kids involved.  While the adults are busy preparing food over a hot stove, ask the youngsters to make leftovers labels. has printable labels and the “consume by” date can be written in the blank space.   

Store your leftovers in shallow containers.  That will allow the food to cool quicker, so it gets to a safe storing temperature faster.  And don’t over-load your fridge.  The cool air needs room to circulate around the food.    

When you initially pick your foods, choose those that sit well at room temperature.  Be sure to put the remaining provisions back in the refrigerator within two hours after dinner is served.  Don’t forget, the danger zone for prepared foods is between 40 ˚F and 140 ˚F.  Keeping your fridge at or below 40 ˚F inhibits the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.

Sit back and rest easy this holiday knowing that chilling and storing food properly is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of food borne illness.  

Create A Holiday Roast Tradition!

By Joe Moore of Indiana Beef Cattle Association - Indiana Beef Council

As we turn toward the November/December holidays, with all their sparkle and magic, what could be more fitting for a company dinner, traditional family get-together or holiday party than some of the finest beef cuts available -- Beef Rib Roast and Beef Tenderloin - roasted to perfection.  

Prime Rib or Standing Rib?  A colloquial and popular term for this cut is "prime rib". Historically, this name stands out regardless of the grade. In addition, the USDA acknowledges this historical note by not requiring the cut "to be derived from USDA prime grade beef". The technical name, per URMIS (Uniform Retail Meat Industry Standards), is "Beef Rib Roast".  Prime rib used to refer to a USDA prime grade standing rib roast, but these days all rib roasts (and some rib steaks) are called prime rib regardless of the USDA grade they received.  A beef rib roast is a cut of beef from the rib section, which is one of the four beef primals.  The entire rib section comprises ribs six through twelve of the animal; a standing rib roast can comprise anywhere from two to all seven ribs. The term "standing" means that because the bones are included in the roast, the roast can stand by itself. A rib roast with the bones removed is commonly referred to as a rolled rib roast or boneless rib roast.  

Each rib feeds about two people, so if you have a party of eight, buy and cook a four rib roast. The rib roast closest to the loin is leaner and more tender than the rib roast nearest the chuck. This end is referred to as the small end rib roast. The chuck end of the rib roast will have a smaller ribeye and contain more fat.   This roast is sometimes referred to as a large end rib roast.

The rib roast cut is so good that it doesn't need a lot of preparation.  The cooking process is also quite simplistic for an entree with such a grand reputation. In fact, this dish is easier to prepare than any other special event food such as turkey or duck. Take the rib roast out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for a couple hours to raise the roast temperature to near room temperature. Preheat your oven to 500°F, or the highest it will go. Generously sprinkle salt and pepper all over the roast.

Insert a meat thermometer into the center of the roast, making sure it doesn't touch a bone. Place the roast rib bones down in a roasting pan in the oven.

After 15 minutes on 500°F, reduce the heat to 325°F. To figure the total cooking time, allow about 13-15 minutes per pound for rare and 17-20 minutes per pound for medium rare. The actual cooking time will depend on the shape of the roast and your particular oven. Use a meat thermometer, this is not a roast to "wing it". 

Roast in oven until thermometer registers 120°F. for rare or 135°F. for medium. Now deglaze the pan by pouring in 1 cup beef broth and bring to a boil. After you've scraped off the bottom of your pan and mixed it into the jus, season with salt and pepper and strain.

Beef tenderloin is the cut of meat taken from the beef loin primal. Since it is the center of tenderness, it is one of the most popular cuts and one of the most expensive cuts as well. Whole untrimmed tenderloin can weigh in around 7-8 pounds and cost as much as $100 or more. If you got the same amount of meat cut into steaks it can cost even more. As tenderloin is easy to trim, purchasing a whole PSMO (peeled, side muscle on) in the bag will save a considerable amount of money. Many retailers will trim it for free.

To trim beef tenderloin start by removing the silvery skin. This cooks up very tough and makes dealing with the tenderloin difficult. Try using a paper towel to get a good hold on the skin while you use a knife to lift it away from the meat. Then remove any excess fat that might be hanging loose. 

A beef tenderloin usually has one large end and one small end. For even cooking, tuck the small tail end under when you tie the meat so that the tenderloin has the same thickness throughout.. With such a terrific cut of beef, the simpler done the better. Try a little black pepper, garlic and maybe a very light coating of olive oil. Anything more will simply detract from the flavor of the meat.  The following instructions for Beef Tenderloin, which calls for the tiniest hint of garlic and black pepper, would work very well.  Allow the roast to raise to room temperature for an hour or so before cooking.  When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 500°F.  Rub the tenderloin all over with olive oil, a cut clove of garlic and freshly cracked black pepper. 

Place the meat in a roasting pan, insert a meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the tenderloin and place the pan in the oven. Immediately turn the heat down to 225 °F. If you think your tenderloin is thin, start checking the temperature on the meat thermometer after 1/2 hour; if you have normal sized tenderloin, start checking after 45 or 50 minutes. The thermometer should read 120°F for rare doneness. When the meat has reached the desired temperature, remove from the oven and let it stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meat Storage

Guest Post By Leah of Real Farmwives and Friends and Beyer Beware

Whether you buy in bulk or you want to keep your precious left overs instead of tossing them out to the dog, I am sure many of you wonder how long does it really stay "good." So, let me break it down for you.
The first thing you want to do is make sure your refrigerator is at 40 degrees or lower and freezer is at 0 degrees or lower. This is will ensure the safest food possible.

Uncooked Meat

One great way to reduce your grocery bill is buying meat in bulk directly from a farmer. Each year we buy a whole beef. That is one entire finished beef steer or heifer. It comes directly from the butcher to our house. It is frozen at the butcher, so it goes into our deep freeze.

The name of the cut, date packaged, and weight of the package will most likely be stamped on the outside of the cuts. The ground meat comes in packages that you predetermined the weight amount.

We do the same thing with pork. We buy a whole pig and have it butchered.

Now, one reason we do this besides just saving money is for the longevity factor. Meat will stay safe indefinitely in a freezer. I can remember my mom cleaning out one of my great-aunt's freezer and finding food that was over 10 years old. It was safe, but the quality is questionable.

So, if you are wanting to guarantee optimum freshness, I would follow some guidelines set by the Food Safety Inspection Service within the USDA.

 As you can tell, you add so much time to use your meat by storing. For more information on how long is safe in the refrigerator, go to this resource.

Cooked Meat

Now I am sure leftovers are on your brain. Especially cooked turkey leftovers. Let's talk about the best way to store your leftovers.

It IS safe to freeze leftover turkey and trimmings — even if you purchased them frozen. I would recommend wrapping up the leftovers tightly, removing as much air as possible for best quality. You have given yourself 3 to 4 days to eat the turkey and sides up. If you are thinking, there is just way you can eat one more bite of turkey and stuffing over the next 3-4 days, I recommend freezing your leftovers. This is what I have done in the past.

Freezer bags are a girls best friend. I usually chop up the cooked meat to use quickly in casseroles or other dishes when I pull it out of the freezer. This makes the whole weeknight, last minute meal making so much easier. I normally can toss the frozen cooked turkey in the microwave to defrost while I am prepping the ingredients. Then it is thawed out when I am ready for it!

Just how, long can you freeze your cooked meats. Well, for the best quality possible*, you will want to keep plain slices or pieces for up to 4 months, turkey covered in broth or gravy adds about 2 months to the turkey's quality of life, giving you 6 months, and any of your sides should last 4 to 6 months in the freezer.

For more information or a quick guide, be sure to checkout this chart.

*Freezer storage times are for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

Friday, November 18, 2011

What To Do With Pumpkin Leftovers

By Dennis Henry of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Can you believe it is November already? With the Holiday Season just around the corner, our thoughts are with planning the meal of the year, the Thanksgiving Dinner.  But we just finished Halloween and still have the ole Jack o’Lantern on the front porch.  Well don’t fret – it’s Dennis with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture coming to you with ideas on what to do with your Pumpkin leftovers.

Pumpkin leftovers??  Yes, why not!  We all look for those Thanksgiving leftover recipes, why should the Turkey get all the attention? The pumpkin is just as important during this the Harvest season.  So I want to share with you three ideas: a twist on a standard Holiday side dish; an idea for our special four-legged friends; and a way to make your Holiday table more festive--all using your pumpkin leftovers.

We all have those favorite side dishes at the Holiday Dinners, don’t we!  The two standards that seem to always adorn our Holiday tables are the infamous green bean casserole and the sweet potato casserole.  But last year I got a pleasant surprise, instead of our standard sweet potato casserole, Linda (my Sister-in-law) made us Pumpkin Casserole.  I was suspicious at first, but once I tried that first bite I was hooked.  It was a lighter and tasty change from the yearly traditional casserole made from the sweet potato.  So I am sharing with you this pinch hitter of a casserole recipe and our new side-dish tradition, Pumpkin Casserole.

  • 1 - 15 oz. can Pumpkin
  • 1 - 12 oz. can Evaporated Milk
  • 3 large Eggs
  • 1 ½ cups Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon Salt
  • 1 – box of Yellow Cake mix
  • 1 cup Chopped Pecans
  • 1 cup Melted Butter

Preheat your Oven to 350 degrees.  Grease the bottom & sides of a 9” x 13” pan.  In a large bowl mix the first six ingredients and pour into your greased pan.  Pour the dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture and then sprinkle with the chopped Pecans.  Drizzle with the melted butter and bake for 50 to 55 minutes.  Serve warm right out of the oven!

Did you know you can make a Pumpkin Treat for your canine friend?  My dogs, Molly & Gabbie, have always enjoyed getting their treats.  They got treats for going outside, being good and most of the time because they begged for them.  So during a visit to the Vet’s office, I was shocked when the Vet told us these treats are loaded with calories and this was probably the cause of their weight gain.  He suggested we substitute our treats for pumpkin, canned pumpkin – frozen in ice cube trays.  The dogs went wild for these new treats.  You just plop out one or two into their food dish and they go at them.  They also got hooked on frozen green beans.  Let me tell you it worked, they both lost that excess weight. Now in the evenings they no longer beg for the other treats, instead they park themselves in front of the freezer – just waiting for someone to open the door to give them this tasty treasured treat.

OK, time for some fun.  Our Holiday table is always overflowing with food; you would think we were feeding a family of twenty – instead of the five of us sitting around the table.  But there is nothing better to me than Holiday leftovers…oh yeah, leftovers.  I am supposed to help you with your pumpkin leftovers, right.  Well, I am and always have been a very crafty person.  I get this from my Grandmother.  I remember sitting in front of her TV watching Carol Duvall when she was still a local show out of Detroit (way before HGTV and those cable networks).  My Grandmother loved her needle work crafts; knitting, crocheting, tatting and even sewing.  You name it she did it, like many of her generation.  So my final leftover idea for you is a crafty one.  For the Holiday season, I set my dining room table as though we are just waiting for the food to be served at any time.  Keeping with our Pumpkin theme, I am using some of those little gourds  for my place settings.    You can a variety of small, decorative pumpkins just about anywhere now – I got these at my local supermarket.  Using my paring knife, I cut the top out of the pumpkins the size of my votive candle and scooped out the pumpkin guts.  I think every one calls them pumpkin guts – at least everyone in my family..  Then I placed the votive candle in the pumpkins; light and you have a place setting that will impress even that Scrooge-like family member (we all have at least one). You may also try this idea.  For a festive holiday center piece on your table, turn a hallowed-out pumpkin into a flower vase.  Or carve a fancy design in the flesh, insert a candle and have a one-of-a-kind luminary.

I hope I have inspired you to look at leftovers in a different perspective; that you enjoy my ideas; and maybe even come up with a few of your own.  Who knows, you could also start a new tradition!  Happy Holidays to you and yours, Dennis.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Teachers: Give your students something to chew on with the 2nd Annual Our Food, Our Farmers essay contest

Prizes for written essays include Apple iPad® and Kodak PlaySport camcorder

INDIANAPOLIS (November 16, 2011)—Students in grades 4-12 are again encouraged to “chew on” the impact of Indiana foods and farmers for the 2nd Annual Ag Essay Contest titled “Our Food, Our Farmers: Feeding the World.” This year’s contest explores Indiana’s role as a global agricultural leader.

“The Our Food, Our Farmers contest encourages students to learn about the role Hoosier farmers and food scientists play in a competitive global marketplace,” said Keira Amstutz, president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. “By participating in this contest, we hope students will think, read and talk more about Indiana’s rich agricultural history and its future.”

Sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers and Indiana Humanities, the essay contest encourages students to recognize and share all the ways Indiana agriculture plays a positive role in their own lives –as well as in the lives of those around them. The essay competition includes three grade levels: 4-6; 7-9 and 10-12. Entries must be received by Feb. 1, 2012.

Grade Level/Essay Theme:
·         Grades 4-6:
What is the World Food Prize?  Profile either of the two Indiana winners and describe why their work is important.
·         Grades 7-9:
Indiana is a national leader in the production of many of the crops, livestock and food products that the world consumes.  How does this benefit our state?
·         Grades 10-12:  
How do Indiana farmers, companies and researchers play a role in making food products better for consumers?

There will be a first and second place winner from each grade level. First place winners will receive an Apple iPad and second place winners will receive a Kodak PlaySport camcorder.  All winners will be invited to attend a special recognition ceremony on March 8, 2012 in Celebration of National Ag Day.

“Indiana’s family farms, large and small, are committed to providing healthy food for Hoosiers,” said Indiana Agriculture Director Joe Kelsay. “But today's farmers also compete in a global market, which requires research, sound business models and a deep commitment to the environment. We want to help young Hoosiers understand and appreciate the work being done and impact being made from right here in Indiana.”

Entry guidelines can be found at or
This contest is part of Indiana Humanities’ two-year Spirit of Competition initiative. Spirit of Competition will celebrate the role competition plays in our lives by examining core elements of competition such as civility, rivalry, innovation, passion and failure.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

$25 Gift Card for Your Holiday Feast

Could you use a little extra this Holiday Season to fill your family's table with something special?

Well, we are going to keep this short and sweet today... Just let us know your favorite holiday dish and enter on the widget below and you could win a $25 Gift Card from Kroger.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Family Literacy Month: Barnyard Chronicles Blog Feature

Hello Farming Fans,
It’s me, Albert, reporting from inside the barn.  If you haven’t had a chance to meet me already, well then let me explain. I am a pig and I am part of the Barnyard Chronicles crew.

Check out to see me in action. My other pals, Lucy and Clarabelle will echo me in saying we love life inside the barn, so that our farmers can take care of us. 

This is to make sure we don’t get caught by predators and to ensure we are fed properly and have the ability grow safely in our comfortable, temperate buildings.  All of us love playing games inside the barn, and we actually want to share them with you.  You can find interactive online games under the “For Kids” section of .  Help Lucy catch the eggs, or help match us up. I’m telling you – these games are PORKTASTIC!

Don’t worry teachers or moms. We didn’t forget about you.  On the “For Teachers” and “For Grownups” sections, you can find ag facts, recipes, and curriculum for your kids.  All of the lesson plans meet education standards and are very interactive. 

Did you know:

·         98% of farms in Indiana are family owned?

·         All milk – both regular and organic – is tested for antibiotics. Any tanker that tests positive is disposed of immediately.

Find out more facts on 

There are also books geared for 4th graders available for your students. Email Hannah at to order these interactive books. You can view them online at

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sixth sick sheik?

By Hannah Brescher of Indiana Soybean Alliance

Did you know that today, November 7 is InternationalTongue Twister Day? In honor of this special day, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite farm Tongue Twisters. Make it your challenge today to say these three times fast!

Gracie Goat grazed gracefully in green grass with the grasshoppers.

Chickens cluck at cute, cuddly chicks.
And finally…according to Guinness Book of World Records, this is the hardest tongue twister…
Get ready...
Get Set…
The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick.
Good luck with that one!
Hey wait...that’s not all.  In celebration of this special day, Indiana’s Family of Farmers is giving you a chance to win a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble Bookstore.  Check out how to enter on the widget below and we will randomly select a winner. (Note: Subscribers may need to visit the blog to see the widget below.)
Happy International Tongue Twister Day!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Harvest and Family: Meet the Mahans

Harvest is in full swing in southeastern Indiana.  The wet weather we experienced this spring resulted in a late planting season.   Harvest is a little behind schedule compared to the last three years in which we have managed to finish by Halloween.  However, I vividly remember several years when it was Thanksgiving or after before we finished.  We can’t control Mother Nature!

We farm roughly 900 acres of beans and 1000 acres of corn.  We are finished with bean harvest and are about halfway finished with corn.  My husband is the fifth generation to live and work on our family farm.  The family farm makes up about 350 of the 1900 acres. The corn is fairly wet this year so we have to dry it before we can take it to the grain elevator.

 Farmers put in long days around harvest season. My husband works about 16 hour days which means we don’t see him very much.  Sometimes that is hard when the kids are little, but we make it work.  I deliver lunch to the field every day.  Our youngest is always up for a little field work.

She likes to help Daddy as much as she can…

Our oldest daughter is now in school.  When she gets home sometimes we head out to the field once again and visit everyone.

She even gets to sneak in a combine ride with Grandma…

while her sister gets to ride in the tractor with Papaw…

and I get to go home and fold laundry in peace!!!

I hope you all are having a great harvest season!