Is your refrigerator running? If so, better go catch it.
That was a joke from the 1930s as kids crank-called on the telephone. ("Do you have Prince Albert in a can? Better let him out," was another.)
It's not so funny if your electricity is off -- and so is your refrigerator.
When that's the case, you don’t have a lot of time before the food in your refrigerator could go bad — only 4 hours for many foods. The temperature to keep in mind is 40 degrees. Anything perishable — such as raw meat, cooked foods or soft cheeses — that’s been warmer than that temperature for more than 2 hours should be discarded, according to federal food safety guidelines. Fresh produce generally can be saved, though prewashed packaged greens should be discarded. Anything that’s been in contact with raw meat juices should be discarded. Do not gauge the safety of food by its taste or smell.
The key is to keep your refrigerator closed — don’t dip in there for a glass of milk because each time you open the door you cause the refrigerator to warm up faster. For a list of safety guidelines for specific foods, see www.foodsafety.gov.
Freezers, especially full ones, will stay cold for a longer period: full ones, 48 hours; half full, 24 hours. If frozen foods are thawed or partially thawed, they can be refrozen if there are still ice crystals in the food or if the food was at 40 degrees or below for less than 2 hours. Depending on the food, its quality may be affected by refreezing, though it will be safe to eat. Check the freezer temperature once the electricity comes back on to assure that it did not go above 40 degrees.
As with the refrigerator, if food has become thawed and has been held at a temperature warmer than 40 degrees for more than 2 hours, it should be discarded. For a list of safety guidelines for specific foods in the freezer, see www.foodsafety.gov.
Dry ice or block ice can help maintain cold temperatures during extended periods. According to foodsafety.gov, 50 pounds of dry ice should keep an 18-cubic-feet freezer that's full of food cold for two days.
The procratinator's dilemma: Barely time left to get your tickets to hear Michael Pollan when he speaks Thursday evening, May 2 at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park.
The best-selling author, whose works are on the shelves of those following food issues, will talk about his new book,"Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation," as part of the synagogue's "Inspiring Minds" series. Pollan is the author of "Food Rules," "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "In Defense of Food," and other writings that have become must-reads in the food world. You can read my interview with him in the Taste print edition on Thursday and online Wednesday afternoon at www.startribune.com/taste.
Tickets for the event are as follows:
-- $500 for a VIP ticket, which includes a private reception (appetizers by Heidi and Stewart Woodman, chef/owners of Heidi's and Birdhouse) and a photo opportunity with Pollan, plus reserved seating and a copy of his new book.
-- $180 for reserved seating and a copy of the book.
-- $60 for a general admission ticket.
-- $25 for a senior (65 or older) or student general admission.
The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the synagogue, 5224 W. 26th St., St. Louis Park. For tickets or more information, see www.besyn.org/pollan or call 952-873-7300. There will be no ticket sales at the door.
The kangaroo steaks sold out last night, the first time they were on the menu at Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis and, as far as we know, in the Twin Cities ever.
Executive chef Joe Wuestenhagen added it to the menu after extensive testing showed that diners would like it.
"I thought he was joking," said co-owner Cynthia Gerdes as she remembered her surprise at the suggestion of serving the 'roo. Then she headed to the Internet to do some research on the meat and found that it was considered to be both healthful and to have a lower environmental impact. "Greenpeace has endorsed more kangaroo consumption," she said.
That's because the 'roo is not a farmer friendly animal."These are animals that are ruining Australia's lands. Farmers are shooting them," Cynthia said."I never researched a food so much in my life. We don't put an item on the menu to gain some ink," she said.
The upside of kangaroo: No methane gases from the animals (unlike for cattle). They don't damage soil, because they don't have hooves. All-organic meat, as these are wild. The meat is lean.
The downside: People think of kangaroo as a cuddly creature.
"Some people might give us a little backlash, or a lot. That's why I had to think this through," said Cynithia. "In a perfect world, no one would eat meat. But they do eat it. And it's a huge part of restaurants' menus."
She noted that when bison was first introduced to the Hell's Kitchen menu 11 years ago, many restaurant owners raised their eyebrows about that. Bison? Who would eat that? Now it's de rigueur on many menus.
So how does kangaroo taste? (And no, it's not like chicken.) The restaurant reports that the meat has a beefy, slightly sweet and smoky flavor.
"We didn't know how well this would be received, but sold out in one night? This took us totally by surprise," she said.
Initially they are preparing the kangaroo only as steaks. "Our purpose is to get people to try it on the menu," said Cynthia.
Michael Pollan, the best-selling author whose many works are on the shelves of those following food issues, will be in town May 2, at Beth El Synagogue to talk about his new book "Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation" as part of the synagogue's "Inspiring Minds" series. Pollan is the author of "Food Rules," "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "In Defense of Food" and other volumes that have been must-reads in the food world. His new book will be published in late April and focuses on the four elements (fire, water, air, earth) that transform the stuff of nature into good things to eat and drink.
Tickets for the event:
$500 for the VIP ticket, which includes a private reception (appetizers by Heidi and Stewart Woodman, chef/owners of Heidi's and Birdhouse) and a photo opportunity with Pollan, reserved seating, a copy of his new book.
$180 for reserved seating and a copy of the book.
$60 for a general admission ticket
$25 for a senior (65 or older) or student general admission.
Part of the proceeds of the event will benefit Appetite for Change, a North Minneapolis nonprofit that uses food as a vehicle for social change. The event will also benefit Beth El Synagogue.
For tickets or more information, see www.besyn.org/pollan or call 952-873-7300.
The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the synagogue, 5224 W. 26th St., St. Louis Park.
Which cookbook was the best-seller last year, as listed in Publishers Weekly ? Well (no surprise given the photo here!), it was Ina Garten and her next volume in the Barefoot Contessa lineup. At more than 400,000 books sold last year, she was significantly ahead of the other authors, even if you add up the sales of the two Pioneer Woman books written by Ree Drummond (which totaled more than 360,000 books).
Any favorites on this list? Note that all but blogger Deb Perelman either have their own TV show or are regulars on other shows.
1. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten. Clarkson Potter. 428,105
2. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Frontier by Ree Drummond. William Morrow. 267,909
3. In the Kitchen with David by David Venable. Ballantine. 264,953
4. Eat More of What You Love by Marlene Koch. Running Press. 132,796
5. Great Food Fast by Bob Warden. Quail Ridge Press. 122,665
6. The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman. Knopf. 114,547
7. The Chew by The Hosts and Staff of ABC's The Chew. Hyperion. 109,020
8. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond. William Morrow. 103,751
9. Weeknights with Giada by Giada De Laurentiis. Clarkson Potter. 95,040
10. Hungry Girl to the Max! by Lisa Lillien. St. Martin’s Griffin. 86,656
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