If you’ve just removed your candlesticks from the cupboard for a party and they’re covered in wax, try this handy trick: Just stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours. The wax will harden and chip right off.
– Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems
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!
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.
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 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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO YOUR SINK
You already know Pledge has many household uses, but did you know that one of the best ones is keeping your sink clean? If you’ve got a stainless steel sink, wipe wood cleaner over it after you wash it out. If you do this at least once a month, the cleaner will keep your sink shiny by preventing water and food stains from taking hold.
– Who Knew? 10,0001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems
Quick Lesson in Refrigeration
You can make your refrigerator more energy efficient by understanding how it works. Refrigerators use energy to reduce the humidity inside, which helps cool foods. Therefore, any time you leave an open container of liquid inside, you’re wasting energy. Make sure all your pitchers have lids, and make sure dressings and moist leftovers are well-covered. You should also always let hot foods cool before placing them in the refrigerator, so it doesn’t have to use extra energy to bring them down to room temperature. Of course, be careful with cooked meats, eggs, and poultry – they shouldn’t stay out for more than an hour.
– Who Knew? 10,0001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems
When the garbage truck comes to empty our dumpsters, they only remove the trash that is actually INSIDE the container. Please make sure that your garbage gets into the dumpster and that the lids are closed when you are finished. Items that cannot fit in the dumpster such as furniture, TV’s, etc are not permitted. We do not have bulk trash pickup; residents must remove these items on their own.
– Allyssa Brown, Leasing Manager at Old Orchard Apartments
Freshen That Air
Here’s an easy way to make your own eco-friendly air freshener with ingredients you have around the house. Mix 2 cups warm water with 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon orange or vanilla extract. If you prefer, you can use an essential oil for scent: lemon, jasmine, rose, and lavender all smell wonderful. If you leave out the extract or oil, it’s safe to spray around kids and most furniture (although you might want to spot-check first).
– Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems
Baking soda isn’t just for baking or keeping your refrigerator smelling fresh. Here are five great ways to use baking soda:
– If hard water in your home causes spots and stains on items that have been run through the dishwasher, add a spoonful of baking soda to your next load. Your dishes will come out spot-free.
– Baking soda is safe and effective when it comes to cleaning gold and silver jewelry. For best results, use a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, and rub gently on your jewelry. It gets rid of dirt, grime, and body oils, and leaves your gold and silver sparkling.
– To remove scuff marks left on your floor by dark-soled shoes, rub some baking soda into the spot with a wet rag. They’ll virtually disappear.
Make Better Coffee
– Combine 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 quart water and run it through your coffee maker as if you were making a cup of coffee. The baking soda will get rid of any mineral deposits that have built up inside. After your baking-soda cycle, run a pot full of plain water through. Now you’re ready to make some of the best-tasting brew to ever come out of your old coffee maker!
Stainless Steel Wonder
– To get the cleanest bathroom fixtures you’ve ever seen, apply a paste of vinegar and baking soda to stainless steel faucets, knobs, and towel bars. Lay old towels or rags on top and wait one hour, then buff off. Rinse the fixtures and then let them dry for sparkling fixtures without a hint of water marks.
Who Knew? 10,001 Easy Solutions to Everyday Problems
Even if you are very diligent about cleaning the lint filter in your dryer, it still may be causing you a problem. If you use dryer sheets, a waxy build up could be accumulating on the filter causing your dryer to over heat. The solution to this is to clean your filter with a toothbrush and hot soapy water every six months.