Happy Thanksgiving!

HappyThanksgiving_1_

How did Thanksgiving become a holiday? In Autumn 1621, the Plymouth colonists and the Wampanoag Indians shared a three-day  harvest feast, which was considered the first Thanksgiving. They feasted on deer, geese, oysters, corn, onions, pumpkins, squash, and dried fruits. This tradition continued every year, but was not an official ‘holiday’, simply a celebration and gathering. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving. Then in 1939, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving up a week to create a longer Christmas shopping season hoping to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. There was such a public uproar about this decision that President Roosevelt had to move Thanksgiving back. In 1941, Congress sanctioned Thanksgiving a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday in November.

For more on the history of Thanksgiving, please visit http://www.history.com/topics/thanksgiving

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Maintenance Monday – turkey safety

thanksgiving-turkey-dinner

This week’s Maintenance Monday tip is about how to prepare, cook and store your holiday Turkey. Ok, it isn’t really a ‘maintenance’ tip, but it is sort of a ‘Do It Yourself’. Besides it is a shortened holiday week, so let’s get into the spirit!

Holiday Cooking

Turkey Food Safety

During the holiday season, people are buying turkeys for that big family meal. Everyone wants to find the perfect bird, but cooking it properly is even more important. These tips can help you create a safe and delicious meal.

Buying & Storing

Fresh and frozen birds differ in cook and storage time, but not taste or quality. If you like to buy your turkey ahead of time, try a frozen bird. If you have limited storage space, you may prefer a fresh turkey.

When buying a whole turkey, estimate one pound of turkey for each person.

Fresh Turkey

Fresh turkeys can be kept in the refrigerator for only one or two days, but after that, they must be cooked or frozen. Store a fresh turkey in a pan in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook it. (Always keep raw animal products separated from ready-to-eat food products.)

Frozen Turkey

Leave the turkey in the original packaging and keep it frozen until you are ready to cook it. Unless you thaw the turkey in the refrigerator, you will not be able to refreeze it once it has thawed.

Frozen turkeys should be cooked within one year for best quality.

Pre-Stuffed Turkeys

Do not buy pre-stuffed fresh turkeys. These turkeys can contain harmful bacteria if handled improperly. If you do want your turkey to be pre-stuffed, purchase a frozen pre-stuffed turkey that is marked with USDA or state inspection seals.

Do not thaw pre-stuffed frozen turkeys before cooking.

Thawing

In the Refrigerator

The safest way to thaw a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. Keep the turkey in its original packaging, and place a pan underneath to catch any drips.

Allow for a thawing time of 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. Once the turkey has thawed, it can be kept in the refrigerator for one to two days.

In the Kitchen Sink

For a quicker thawing method, submerge your turkey in the kitchen sink. Put the turkey in a heavy freezer bag and close it tightly. Place it in a clean sink, and fill the sink with cold water until the turkey is completely submerged.

Change the water every half hour to keep it cool. The turkey should thaw for about 30 minutes per pound.

If you thaw your turkey in the sink, cook it immediately after thawing. It cannot be refrigerated or refrozen.

In the Microwave

If the turkey will fit, you can use a microwave for fast thawing. Check the microwave owner’s manual for the recommended power level and amount of time per pound. Remove all packaging and place the bird in a microwave-safe dish.

Cook the turkey immediately after thawing. It is not safe to refrigerate or refreeze a microwave-thawed turkey.

Preparation

Prevent Cross-Contamination

Carefully open any packaging covering the turkey and dispose of it right away. Wash any surfaces that the meat, juices, or packaging might have touched, including refrigerator or freezer shelves.

If you use the kitchen sink to thaw the turkey, be sure to drain and sanitize the sink immediately afterward. If you thaw any raw meat in the microwave, sanitize it as well.

When handling fresh and frozen raw meat, wash your hands, utensils, dishes, and kitchen surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water. Use separate knives and cutting boards when preparing the turkey and stuffing.

Early Preparation

Some people prefer to cook their turkeys a day or two in advance. Once the bird has been cooked, carve it and refrigerate the meat in small, shallow containers. The wings, legs, and thighs may be left whole. You can also refrigerate the juices that collect in the bottom of the pan during cooking.

On the day you plan to eat the turkey, reheat the meat in an oven heated to at least 325°F.

Cooking

Stuffing

To save time, you can prepare the stuffing ingredients in advance. Keep wet and dry ingredients separated — and the wet ingredients refrigerated — until just before you cook the stuffing.

The safest way to make stuffing is to cook it separately, not inside the turkey. If you do choose to stuff the turkey, pack the stuffing loosely, and cook the turkey immediately afterwards. Remove the stuffing from the turkey about 20 minutes after the turkey is done cooking.

Frozen Turkey

You can safely cook a frozen turkey without thawing it first. A frozen bird will take 50 percent longer to cook than a thawed or fresh turkey. Remove the giblets with tongs or a fork while the turkey is cooking.

Remember: Do not thaw pre-stuffed frozen turkeys before cooking.

Fresh or Thawed Turkey

Be sure to remove the giblets immediately after thawing. Giblets should be cooked separately.

Preheat the oven to at least 325°F. Place the turkey in a shallow roasting pan. The inside temperature of the turkey must reach 165°F for it to be safe to eat. You may cook the turkey to a higher temperature if desired.

Use a food thermometer to check the temperature at the thickest part of the turkey breast and at the innermost part of the thigh and wing. Even if your turkey comes with a “pop-up” thermometer, double-check the temperature with a food thermometer.

Cook an unstuffed turkey for approximately 15 minutes per pound. Allow a few extra minutes per pound for a stuffed turkey.

Cooking the turkey uncovered will give it a roasted flavor, but can also dry out the meat. Put the turkey in an oven cooking bag for more tender meat and faster cooking. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the bag.

Other options include pouring half a cup of water into the bottom of the pan or covering the turkey with the roasting pan lid or aluminum foil. Covering the turkey will reduce oven splatter and overbrowning.

After removing the turkey from the oven, let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to settle.

Leftovers

Your turkey and other cooked foods will need to be eaten within two hours. After that time, leftovers should be refrigerated or thrown away. (If the temperature is over 90°F, food needs to be refrigerated or disposed of after one hour.)

Leftover meat should be eaten within three to four days; gravy, within one to two days. You can also freeze leftovers, but make sure you eat them within six months.

Turkey leftovers may be eaten cold or reheated in the oven or microwave. The oven should be heated to at least 325°F. Follow the owner’s manual instructions for reheating turkey in the microwave.

For more questions on turkey or other holiday foods, contact your local Extension office or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854.

Thanksgiving Recipes and Traditions

HappyThanksgiving_1_

Century Corporation is thankful for our loyal residents at Burnam Woods, Chatham Gardens and Old Orchard Apartments. We wanted to show our thanks by giving you some of our favorite Thanksgiving recipes and traditions. We enjoy watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with our families, picking names for our Secret Santa gifts and indulging ourselves with our favorite Thanksgiving foods. Here are some of our favorites:

Sweet Sweet Potatoes

canned sweet potatoes
butter
brown sugar

melt lots of butter in frying pan
cut sweet potatoes in fourths – or bite size pieces
place sweet potatoes into frying pan
add lots and lots of brown sugar
continually turn sweet potatoes over
keep adding butter and brown sugar as needed to make a crunchy coating
cook until sweet potatoes are dark brown

 

Baked Macaroni and Cheese:

1 package macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs buttered

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook macaroni, drain, then set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add flour, salt, & pepper, then whisk until blended well. Gradually add milk and cream while continuously stirring. Bring mixture to a boil; continue to boil for two minutes. Reduce heat, and cook for ten minutes while stirring. Add shredded cheese and simmer for 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Remove from flame, and add macaroni to saucepan. Stir until the cheese coats the macaroni. Shift macaroni to a buttered baking dish, and layer the top of the macaroni with bread crumbs. Bake twenty minutes until golden brown.

 

Chocolate Pudding Pie:

Pour whatever flavor of homemade pudding you like into a pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes then let cool. Refrigerate overnight and serve cold.

What are some of your favorite Thanksgiving foods and traditions?

Maintenance Monday – oven cleaning

don't let this happen to you

don’t let this happen to you

Your oven’s auto clean (or self clean) is a great feature, if you use it properly. Set a regular cleaning schedule for your oven, so there is no heavy build up of grease and debris. This is a potential fire hazard. Wipe any loose debris away before setting your oven to auto clean. Also while in the auto clean mode, use proper ventilation by opening a window and turning on the exhaust fan. And NEVER EVER leave the apartment while your oven is in the auto clean mode. Actually never leave your apartment while your oven is turned on, whether it is cleaning or cooking.

Maintenance Monday – save money on your electric bill

Are you looking for a way to save money on your electric bill?

One of the easiest ways to save money on electricity is to turn off electronics when you’re not using them. To make it easier, get a power strip like the SmartStrip, which powers down devices based on one device’s usage. For example, when you switch off your computer, the SmartStrip will cut the power to your monitor, printer and scanner as well.

– Who Knew? 10,0001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems 

multi-tab-power-strip-by-soon-mo-kang

Thanksgiving Food Drive

Thanksgiving 2013 Food Drive

When you think of November, you think of Thanksgiving. What better way to give thanks then to give to area families in need. The Century Corporation is sponsoring a Thanksgiving Food Drive. Food collected from our apartments at Burnam Woods will go to Life Source International Church. Food collected from our apartments at Chatham Gardens will go to the Salvation Army. Food collected from our apartments at Old Orchard will go to Catonsville Emergency Food Ministries. We are collecting donations at our leasing offices through November. Please give generously because everyone deserves a hot home cooked meal on Thanksgiving. Some of the items needed include: a gift card for a frozen turkey or canned ham, flour, sugar, brown sugar, canned pie filling, pie, crust mix, jello, jello pudding mix, fruit cocktail, canned fruit, canned vegetables, yams, marshmallows, stuffing mix, instant mashed potatoes, rice, dried beans, canned gravy, broth, canned milk, salt, pepper, and spices …

Maintenance Monday – kitchen cleaning and maintenance tips

kitchen-sink

Here are some cleaning and maintenance tips for your kitchen:

Counter Tops: Counters tops should not be used as a chopping block or hot plate. Please use a cutting board for chopping or hot pads to protect the counter surface. Counters can be cleaned with a soft detergent like soft scrub.

Dishwasher: For optimum efficiency, do not overload your dishwasher and only use dishwasher detergent recommended for automatic dishwashers. To clean the exterior of the dishwasher, wipe with a warm, damp, sudsy cloth.  Rinse and wipe dry. Avoid gritty or harsh cleansers, as they will damage the finish. Generally the interior of the dishwasher is self-cleaning. The tub and strainer should be periodically checked for foreign objects.

Garbage Disposal: While your disposal is operating, always keep the cold water running. Sharpening of the blades can be achieved by periodically inserting ice cubes. To deodorize the disposal, insert orange or lemon peels.  Do not use drain cleaning chemicals in your disposal. Never put bones, celery, onion peels, cornhusks, artichoke leaves, metal or glass down your disposal.  In addition, never insert paper products, matches or cigarettes. Grease and coffee grounds will also clog your garbage disposal.

– The Apartment Living at Shea Apartments