Archive for September, 2008

06
Sep
08

Lysteria and Safe Food Handling Practices

I don’t think it’s possible to overemphasize the importance of safe food handling practices.

Far too often we rush through meal preparation without considering what types of bacteria we may be transferring to our bodies from our food.

Listeriosis monocytogenes found in meat products from a processing plant in Toronto has recently been linked to several deaths and illnesses in Canada.

Listeriosis monocytogenes is a bacterium found in food which mainly affects the elderly, newborns, people with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. It is mainly found in water and soil.

There are systems and regulations in place in food production facilities to ensure that bacterium like Lysteriosis don’t make it into the food supply chain. Those systems are what keep your food safe to eat. They are not foolproof.

Maple Leaf Foods, Canada, recalled all products made at the Toronto plant since January 2008. ( http://www.mapleleaf.ca/ ). They also shut down the plant.

I think this incident underlines why we need to be our body’s last line of defence when it comes to food-borne illnesses. There are things we can do on an individual level to prevent illness.

Here are some preventative measures as listed on the center for disease control and prevention website: ( http://www.cdc.gov/ )

“General recommendations:

  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry.
  • Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods.
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above:

  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
  • Avoid getting fluid from hot dog packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
  • Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, and Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or Mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco, and Panela, unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk.
  • Do not eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads. Canned or shelf-stable pâtés and meat spreads may be eaten.
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna or mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” The fish is found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned or shelf-stable smoked seafood may be eaten. “
02
Sep
08

Roast Potatoes and Baby Shoes

I just wrapped up a beautiful evening with my family.

My daughter spent the afternoon in her jolly jumper, stomping in her new shoes.

Its hard to take a clear shot of fast-moving munchkin feet.

It's hard to take a clear shot of fast-moving munchkin feet.

We also had my parents and in-laws over for dinner on the deck.

My Mom brought two salads and a rhubarb cake, my Father-in-law brought honey garlic spareribs he’d done in the slow cooker. We made some homemade bread and roasted potatoes with tomatoes picked fresh from the garden.

The deck hangs out over the river, and we’re surrounded by trees. While we ate a Heron landed out in the water. It slowly walked up the river, stalking fish.

I love eating outside when the sky starts to go from late afternoon to dusk. I think it makes things taste better. Especially if you’re eating with friends and loved ones.

Wine also helps.

We had a red wine from California (Robert Mondavi, Pinot Noir, 2006) , and a white from South Africa (Two Oceans, Sauvignon Blanc, 2007). The Mondavi worked wonderfully with the starchiness of the potatoes and the meatiness of the ribs. I honestly didn’t get a chance to try the white, but was assured that it was good. 

My daughter, who is teething, even got in on the action. We let her gum a clean rib bone. It kept her entertained while the rest of us ate.

My Roasted Potatoes

This recipe doesn’t require any exactness. Do it to suit your own taste (then it won’t be “My roasted potatoes”, it’ll be your own creation and you can name it what ever you want.

Small, multicoloured potatoes

Ripe tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, the fresher the better

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Fresh ground black pepper

Feta cheese

     This is one of those recipes where the quality of the ingredients really affects the outcome, but it’s super easy to whip up a batch in under an hour with minimal effort.

     Preheat oven to 400F (200C).

     Rinse the potatoes, then cut them, skin on, into quarters. I use baby sized red, yellow, and blue potatoes to enhance the wow factor.

     Place them in a shallow baking dish. Splash on some olive oil. You don’t want to have them floating in it, but a nice coating allows the other ingredients to stick to the potato, and keeps the potato from burning to the dish.

     Add salt and pepper to taste. Slide the baking dish into the oven and cook for 20min. before adding the tomatoes. If using cherry tomatoes, just halve or quarter them, depending on size. Whole tomatoes can be diced and added. Try to get tomatoes that are compact and just ripened. You don’t want to deal with a lot of juice while cutting.

     Put the dish back in for an additional 20 minutes or so. Test the potatoes by tasting to see if they are fully cooked and if they need additional salt and pepper.

     Serve with the crumbled feta added at the last minute, or as a condiment (my Mom doesn’t like feta, so we had a small dish of it set aside as an accompaniment). 

     You can modify this dish any way you want. Increase or decrease any ingredient to suit your taste and feel free to add herbs or other ingredients. If you come up with a tasty variation, I’d love to hear about it.