Monday, June 30, 2008


It is hot, and here in the Northwest we find 72 degrees F. just right and anything above that TOO HOT. We are on our 4th day of 90 plus degree weather and I think now is the time to write the Hot blog. I spent 13 years in California wine country and I learned all the issues with heat. It is from this I draw my helps for you.

#1 Today we took the neighbor girls to the movies. Car seats get wickedly hot. Baby seats left in the car likewise. Keep a towel by the door you go in and out of and carry a towel for each child to put on their seat. They will burn their bare legs so easily. Another help if you have over 100 degrees like we did in Ukiah. Keep a towel in the freezer, or fridge and lay it on the seat long enough to cool it off. My sister made little lemon water wipes she kept in Tupperware in the fridge. Made the car seats smell good and cooled them down too.

#2 Food. You can make everyone very sick with food that isn't treated correctly in the heat. Many people don't understand how this works. Simply bacteria loves starches and warmth. It can grow to a dangerous level very quickly.

So with this in mind foods that cause the biggest issues are: potatoes, rice, meat, fish, poultry, eggs and milk. Now this doesn't mean other things won't make you ill, these are just the fastest feeders for germs.

I know all this because I kept a food handlers license for 10 years, 5 of it cooking for the schools and the rest running a little catering business. From that experience I know that germs won't grow when the temperature of food is colder than 45 degrees F (7 C)

DANGER ZONE: 45 degrees F. to 140 degrees F. so this is how the danger zone works, outside of those temperatures things are safe, once you hit the above 45 all the way to the 140 degrees F. germs grow fast!

The food can smell OK, look OK but you eat it and YIKES.

How can you keep the food safe? Don't trust yourself to know how long it has been out at the picnic. keep food in the ice chest (full of ice) and let people serve themselves from there. You can put ice under the food of concern, a big bowl of ice with a smaller bowl sitting on top is great. I like to carry stacking containers to put ice under things then when the picnic is over I toss the ice and stack the pans.

If food has been hot and you are home, put it in a shallow container and cool it quickly. Ice underneath helps Put the food right into the fridge and keep it uncovered until completely cool. Many people are made ill by hot food stored incorrectly. Once it is cold you can put the food in what ever container you wish and cover it.

Your other choice when you are on a picnic is to keep the food hot. We have a traveling refrigerator that plugs into the car and can keep things hot or cold. It wasn't very expensive and we have used it tons! For the birthdays at the lake we took a travel battery and plugged the fridge into that. It lasted the whole party and food was kept cold.

One more point on the food for summer HEAT. If you are taking it home and plan to eat leftovers you must keep it on ice or you will have no idea how much germ growth there has been and if you put it in the fridge when you get home and eat it the next day it has had a lot of grow time.

There is so much to talk about on safe serving of food but this is just about those HOT days.

#3 Cooking at home in the heat. Here are two of my favorite griddle cookie recipes. DON'T TURN ON THAT OVEN. You will keep your home cooler if you cook in the microwave. But for cookies the grill is the best. (frying pan if you can keep an medium temperate consistent)

And keep your butter in the fridge in the heat it goes racid very fast.

Raisin griddle cookies (recipe from an old "county journal cookbook")

3 1/2 cups sifted flour 1 cup sugar 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp ground nutmeg 1 cup shortening (try butter or oil I haven't tested this but need to) 1 egg 1/2 cup milk 1 1/4 cups raisins

sift all dry ingredients together into a bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture is mealy Beat egg, add milk and blend together Add egg mixture and Raisin mixture to flour Stir lightly until just moistened and dough holds together. Roll on lightly floured board to 1/4"thick Cut with 2 inch round cutter Heat griddle until a few drops of water dance on it. (don't over heat) Oil griddle lightly and place cookies on it. As bottoms brown the tops become puffy. Turn and brown on the other side. Serve warm makes about 4 dozen cookies

If you want you can roll with a sprinkle of sugar in the flour and it makes a nice crust on the cookie These can be cut and frozen so you can take them out and cook what you need I like to add sunflower seeds

Lemon Griddle cookies

make as in Raisin griddle cookies but omit the raisins and add 1 tsp of grated lemon peel. This is very refreshing. I also add a bit of lemon flavoring to the milk before mixing it in.

More HOT Hints in future summer blogs

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