6 Tips To Reduce Produce Food Costs

Salad Greens

We are all feeling the inflation rise with higher prices for fruits and vegetables.

What Can You Do?

Fresh Strawberries

Here are some tips to help you make wise decisions when buying these items and also help you keep produce safe.

Choose Quality

It’s best to choose produce that is not damaged or bruised.

When buying pre-cut, bagged or packaged produce, such as salad greens or half a cantaloupe, check that the produce is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

Bagged Kale Slaw

Store Safely

Most of us know to always store fresh fruits and vegetables separately from raw meats, poultry and seafood when taking groceries home from the store. There was a case of raw blood from a torn hamburger meat package dripping onto raw salad greens which caused an outbreak of E. Coli! This was preventable if the products had been packed separately at the grocery store.

Separate For Safety

Use separate cutting boards for produce, raw meat, poultry & seafood

It’s very important to keep raw fruits and vegetables separate from raw meats and seafood, and also to use separate kitchen utensils for these items. When finished with food preparation, always wash the knives and cutting boards in hot soapy water or the dishwasher.

Saving Money

Raw Carrots

Tips To Follow

You can save money on produce with these helpful tips:

*Buy produce which is cold and refrigerate immediately when home.

*Use clean and sanitary utensils for food preparation.

*Cut away damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before preparing or eating.

*Do not wash fruits and vegetables with soap, detergent or a commercial produce wash as these steps are not effective.

*Even if you do not plan to eat the skin of fruits and vegetables, wash with water first to prevent dirt and bacteria transferring from the surface when peeling or cutting.

*You can use a clean produce brush to scrub firm produce with water such as melons and cucumbers which will also remove surface contaminants.

Salad with a meal

By following these tips, you will reduce produce wastage and reduce your food costs!

6 Facts About Cream Teas That You Didn’t Know!

A cream tea – Cornish or Devon?

It does seem like everyone drinks a large amount of coffee. However, tea is still popular too. My British parents drank tea with milk daily. Coffee wasn’t in our house as tea was the way to go! I always remember my mother, who lived through WW2, saying that she had to give up sugar in her tea, then milk and also get used to plain tea. She was so thankful when she could finally have milk back in her tea. One thing she never had was cream in her tea!

Cornish Cream Tea

What is a Cream Tea?

That brings me to cream teas. If you visit Victoria, you will have the chance for afternoon tea in various restaurants from the Oak Bay Tearoom, Butchart Gardens and even the Empress Hotel. Afternoon tea was introduced to England, in the year 1840, by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. She would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. The evening meal was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, which left a long period of time between lunch and dinner, so the afternoon tea was born. Others liked the idea and, before she knew it, the afternoon tea had become all the rage which included tea, dainty sandwiches and scones with cream and jam. Cream tea became part of the afternoon tea as well.

Cornish Cream Tea with Scones, Jam and Clotted Cream

Devon or Cornish – Which Is The Best Way?

Tea with scones and jam in Cornwall

What is the Difference?

Definitions:

The traditional cream tea, also referred to as Devonshire cream tea, is a specialty of Cornwall and Devon in England where a pot of tea is served with scones, clotted cream and jam. The scone is a single-serving unsweetened cake, with typical ingredients of flour, butter and milk. Clotted cream is a smooth, thick cream traditionally made in Devon and Cornwall. Unpasteurized cow’s milk is heated and left in a shallow pan for many hours which causes the cream to rise to the surface and “clot”.

Devon Cream Teas

The cream is like the butter. You wouldn’t put butter on jam.

Jam was expensive so you only needed a small amount on top.

You can get more cream if you place it on the scone first!

Devon Cream Tea

Cornish Cream Teas

It’s easier to spread with the cream on top and jam on the bottom of the scone.

You can taste the cream better on top!

You wouldn’t put cream on the bottom of a fruit salad.

Cornish Cream Tea

It Doesn’t Matter!

The main thing is to enjoy the cream tea or afternoon tea and use the cream and jam whichever way you like!

Afternoon Tea at Butchart Gardens in Victoria

I will be including a recipe for scones in my upcoming cookbook.

5 Tips for Christmas Turkey Safety

The Importance of Safe Turkey Preparation

Christmas table setting

As we have another Christmas with the pandemic, it is still very important to follow safe preparation practices for your Christmas turkey. The risk of foodborne illness is always present. By following these 5 tips, your Christmas meal will be safely prepared.

Turkey Preparation

As everyone knows, remember to always wash hands with warm or hot water and soap before, during and after preparing and serving the turkey.

Turkey in the raw

Cross-Contamination

Cross-contamination must be avoided. For example, do not use the same knife and cutting board to handle the raw and then cooked turkey. The contamination of the raw blood and juices to the cooked turkey via the knife and board can result in bacterial growth and cause a foodborne illness.

Christmas Tree

Safe Defrosting

Defrost the turkey in the refrigerator or cold water but never at room temperature. I once had a group of hockey parents who decided to defrost their turkeys for the team Christmas party on the ice rink overnight! The turkeys were then cooked and served at their banquet the next day. Unfortunately, 33 parents and children became ill because the turkeys were improperly defrosted.

Christmas Breakfast

How To Stuff Properly

Stuffing tastes delicious, but can act like a sponge inside a raw turkey and soak up blood and bacteria allowing for bacterial growth. Either place stuffing into the turkey immediately before going into the oven or cook the stuffing separately.

Cooked turkey

Cook To The Correct Temperature

Cook the turkeys internally to 74C 165F and check with a thermometer placed in the center of the bird.

Appetizers

After the Meal

After the meal, cut up the turkey into smaller portions and cool quickly before refrigerating.

Christmas Tea

Don’t Forget!

Lastly, don’t leave the cooked turkey in the oven overnight. One of my students did this and was not happy to learn that the turkey had to be thrown out as it had been in the Danger Zone for too many hours!

Have a wonderful Christmas meal by following these 5 food safety tips.

Christmas Teapots

6 Tips for Summer Food Safety

How To Stay Safe This Summer & Prevent Food Poisoning

Now that summer is here, more of us will be camping, having a barbeque and preparing picnic food.

Since restrictions and social distancing have eased, an outdoor picnic is a great way to meet up and share food. However, this is a time when food poisoning can increase due to leaving hazardous foods out on the picnic table in the hot sun therefore allowing bacteria to grow.

Summer Salad

6 Tips You Can Follow This Summer

Remember the mantra Keep Cold Foods Cold. Foods such as potato, greek and caesar’s salads need to be kept cold at 4 C or 40 F. Do not leave these salads sitting out in the hot sunshine for hours as they will be in the Danger Zone where organisms can grow.

Keep Cold Foods Cold & Use A Cooler When Grocery Shopping

Greek Summer Salad

If you are purchasing foods ahead of time at the grocery store or supermarket, place the frozen or cold foods inside a cooler containing ice packs or ice gels in your car. This will help maintain a constant cold temperature for your products until you are home or at your picnic or campsite.

Raw Food Storage

Skewers Ready for the Barbeque

Raw foods such as hamburger meat should be double wrapped and placed in the cooler as well so as not to leak on other foods. Raw meat juices or blood can easily cross-contaminate. If you have cooked products such as hamburgers or hot dogs, keep them in separate closed containers so as not to become cross-contaminated with raw juices if stored together in the cooler.

Barbequing

Barbequing is very popular in the summer months. When cooking hamburgers, always remember to keep the raw meats separate from the cooked burgers. Do not place the cooked burgers back on the plate used for the raw meats as cross-contamination will occur. Use separate utensils for the raw meats and the cooked hamburgers. Never eat under-cooked or raw hamburgers as bacteria such as E-coli can cause food poisoning.

Barbeque
A summer favourite of a burger and salad.

Recycling Plastic Utensils & Take-out Containers

When using plastic utensils and take-out containers, remember that these can be recycled. Covid is mainly spread through aerosols so the single service items can still be recycled. Better yet, take your re-usable dishes with you when camping or having a picnic and wash them later using hot soapy water.

Handwashing

Handwashing

Most importantly, don’t forget to wash your hands and/or use the hand sanitizer before, during and after preparing and serving food. It is extremely important to be vigilant on this practice as it will reduce the spread of Covid as well as prevent food poisoning organisms from making you ill. If you are ill or experiencing symptoms, do not prepare the picnic foods.

Have A Safe Food Summer!

As we face a summer with many festivals and events cancelled, picnics, barbeques and camping in the great outdoors will provide us with outdoor dining and fun with our friends and family. Keep your picnic foods stored safely at the correct temperature and the risk of foodborne illness will be reduced.

Tips For Summer Food Safety:

How To Stay Safe This Summer & Prevent Food Poisoning

Summer is Almost Here!

Now that summer is almost here, more of us will be camping, having a barbeque and preparing picnic food.

With restrictions and social distancing still in place, an outdoor picnic is a great way to meet up and share food. However, this is a time when food poisoning can increase due to leaving hazardous foods out on the picnic table in the hot sun therefore allowing bacteria to grow.

Salad

Tips You Can Follow This Summer:

Remember the mantra Keep Cold Foods Cold. Foods such as potato salad and caesar’s salad need to be kept cold at 4 C or 40 F. Do not leave these salads sitting out in the hot sunshine for hours as they will be in the Danger Zone where organisms can grow.

Keep Cold Foods Cold & Use A Cooler When Grocery Shopping

Greek Summer Salad

If you are purchasing foods ahead of time at the grocery store or supermarket, place the frozen or cold foods inside a cooler containing ice packs or ice gels in your car. This will help maintain a constant cold temperature for your products until you are home or at your picnic or campsite.

Raw Food Storage

Raw foods such as hamburger meat should be double wrapped and placed in the cooler as well so as not to leak on other foods. Raw meat juices or blood can easily cross-contaminate. If you have cooked products such as hamburgers or hot dogs, keep them in separate closed containers so as not to become cross-contaminated with raw juices if stored together in the cooler.

Skewers ready to barbeque

Barbequing

Barbequing is very popular in the summer months. When cooking hamburgers, always remember to keep the raw meats separate from the cooked burgers. Do not place the cooked burgers back on the plate used for the raw meats as cross contamination will occur. Use separate utensils for the raw meats and the cooked hamburgers. Never eat under-cooked or raw hamburgers as bacteria such as Ecoli can cause food poisoning.

Barbeque
A summer favourite of burger and salad.

Recycling Plastic Utensils & Take-out Containers

When using plastic utensils and take-out containers, remember that these can be recycled. Covid is mainly spread through aerosols so the single service items can still be recycled. Better yet, take your re-usable dishes with you when camping or having a picnic and wash them later using hot soapy water.

Handwashing

Most importantly, don’t forget to wash your hands and/or use the hand sanitizer before, during and after preparing and serving food. It is extremely important to be vigilant on this practice as it will reduce the spread of covid as well as prevent food poisoning organisms from making you ill. If you are ill or experiencing symptoms, do not prepare the picnic foods.

Have a Safe Food Summer!

As we face a summer with many events cancelled, picnics, barbeques and camping in the great outdoors will provide us with outdoor dining and safe distancing with our friends and family. Keep your picnic foods stored safely at the correct temperature and the risk of foodborne illness will be reduced.