New Castle News

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November 28, 2013

Lori Brothers: Thank the cook, watch the leftovers

NEW CASTLE — There are two main reasons for putting out the big spread during Thanksgiving.

One is to gather and share the traditions with family and friends, focusing on appreciation and giving thanks for the abundance and blessings in our lives.

The other is the leftovers.

The smells, textures, and flavors of Thanksgiving have become part of the tradition itself. All of us who do the cooking, or appreciate those who cook, know that the connection to each other at the Thanksgiving meal is coming from a beaming heart as you profess, “please pass the mashed potatoes.” Healthy choosers will remember to go very light on butter and gravy.

Make sure you give those who have been working so hard to bring the meal together a special thank-you. A hug, a toast, a special present — something to acknowledge that there is a “divine order” to how the feast appears on the table, and it often starts the night before or very early Thanksgiving morning.

The ones who prepare those delicacies are true treasures. So let’s make sure we don’t forget the thanks during the Thanksgiving meal where it is most deserved.

I sense that the coming together is more for the love of the family and the ritual, and less about obligation. Most people look forward to the family time, especially with how busy we’ve all become.

In a 2010 USA Today survey, about 89 percent of the 2,691 adults surveyed said they would eat a Thanksgiving meal with family. Of those, 19 percent expected six to nine relatives around the holiday table; 23 percent expected 10 to 14; 12 percent expected 15 to 19 — and 27 percent said there will be 20 or more.

AAA projects that 43.6 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles for the holiday weekend. Ninety percent will drive to Thanksgiving destinations and 7 percent will fly. There’s more than obligation in those kinds of numbers!

If you aren’t cooking, there are places to order your meal and still eat in. Others prefer to go out to eat. Some restaurants now cater to this choice to partake of the traditional turkey dinner by gathering together out.

Here are some stats from the American Restaurant Association:

•14 million Americans (That only makes up 6 percent of the American public) have their Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant.

•Males are more likely than females to eat at a restaurant on Thanksgiving.

•Those living in smaller households, and households without children, are more likely to dine out on Thanksgiving.

•A growing number of restaurants are officially closed on Thanksgiving Day, but they still offer takeout options.

Eating leftovers, for many, seems part of the tradition. There’s nothing like eating another round of the good stuff. Remember, it’s important to handle the leftovers well to make sure that you, family and friends stay safe from food poisoning.

You can’t tell whether turkey leftovers have dangerous bacterial growth by looking at, smelling or tasting them. Salmonella and other bacteria that cause food poisoning are called pathogenic bacteria, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

Tips to safely storing and using leftovers:

•Refrigerate as soon as possible after eating the meal.

•Use refrigerated cooked turkey, leftover casseroles, and cooked vegetables within three to four days; stuffing and gravy within one to two days; fruit and cream pies within two to three days, and cheesecake 7 days. Be sure to eat them within that time, after the risk of food poisoning increases.

•Also, when you are ready to eat leftovers, reheat them on the stove, in the oven or in the microwave until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Once again, here’s to all of the cooks and their loving labors (at home or in restaurants) to make Thanksgiving the recurring holiday memory we love in gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving.

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