Cooking and Baking Safety

With the holidays approaching and much cooking/baking to be done, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Be alert! If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don’t use the stove or stovetop.
  • Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.
  • Keep anything that can catch fire – oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stove top.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or hot drink is prepared or carried.

If You Have A Cooking Fire:

  • Just get out! When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number after you leave.
  • If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.
  • Keep a lid nearby when you’re cooking to smother small grease fires. Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop. Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.
  • For an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

Keep your fork (and keep safe)

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After The Fire

This is the time of the year when many house fires happen. Here is a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes. Hopefully no one has to use these, but if you do, hopefully it’s helpful.

  • Contact your local disaster relief organization, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and/or medicine.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance agency for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting the fire damage restoration companies. If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter.Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items. Do not throw away any damaged goods until after the inventory is completed.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records.
  • If you leave your home, contact the local police department to let them know that the site will be unoccupied.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.
  • Check with an accountant or the IRS about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

Keep your fork

Safety Tips for Woodstoves, Fireplaces and Chimneys

Sitting here beside the woodstove, enjoying the fire on a cold evening, reminds me that a woodstove, fireplace or chimney could be a source of danger if not properly maintained. More than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, woodstoves and other fuel-fired appliances as their primary heat source for their homes. It is estimated that less than 20 percent of American homeowners realize the importance of regular chimney and heating appliance maintenance. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Before starting a fire in any fireplace or woodstove, be sure you have the draft wide open. Proper ventilation is necessary for your fire.
  • Never use your fireplace for burning garbage, Christmas trees, piles of paper or building scraps.
  • Make sure there is a spark shield/arrestor or wire basket installed on top of your chimney. The chimney should be at least 2 feet higher than the roof peak or any tall, nearby objects. If your roof is flat or nearly flat, add another foot to the hight of the chimney.
  • Check your flue regularly for any obstruction such as squirrel or bird nests, debris, etc.
  • Use a thermometer on your woodstove stovepipe to insure proper burning temperature.
  • Don’t pile on the wood and smother the fire as this causes creosote to build up in your stove and chimney. Remember, high flames burning hot will burn cleanly.
  • Woodstoves should be at least 36 inches from unprotected combustible materials.
  • Always use a fireplace screen or glass doors. Never keep your wood burning stove door open unless you have a screen or glass door as a backup.
  • Keep the area around the hearth clear of debris, decorations, and flammable materials.
  • Keep your fireplace and chimney in good condition. Check your chimney for cracks and loose mortar and bricks. If there is a problem, have it fixed before using your fireplace or stove.
  • Never leave a fire in your fireplace unattended. Make sure the fire is extinguished before retiring for the night.
  • Chimneys should be inspected and cleaned yearly by a certified chimney specialist.
  • Gasoline or other flammable liquids should never be used top start a wood fire. An explosion or flare up is a real possibility.
  • Pressure treated wood should never be burned in stoves or fireplaces as it contains toxic chemicals that can make you sick.
  • Artificial logs made of wax and sawdust should never be used in woodstoves and should be used one at a time in fireplaces.
  • Learn about seasoned fire woods and what type of woods are best to burn. Only hardwoods should be used as fuel as softwoods have a high content of creosote and resin. Remember, hardwood trees have leaves and softwood trees have needles.
  • Have a special chimney fire extinguisher handy for every fireplace or stove. Also, keep a standard ABC extinguisher nearby for use if needed.
  • If you are in doubt about fighting a fire, get out and call the fire department.

Keep your fork

Household Hints – Part 2

Here are more household hints to add to those that I started on 15 October.

  • For a crisp crust  on chicken, rub with mayonnaise before baking.
  • Use a cloth dampened with rubbing alcohol to remove water spots from stainless steel.
  • Club soda will shine up stainless steel in a jiffy.
  • Add sliced green pepper to fried potatoes to give them a fine flavor.
  • To freshen left over mashed potatoes, put milk in a skillet, add the potatoes and heat; then whip them well and they will taste like fresh ones.
  • Boiled potatoes will stay white if a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar is added to the water.
  • To extinguish a grease fire on the stove, quickly sprinkle a lot of baking soda on the flames.
  • To make marshmallow creme, dissolve 10 oz. of marshmallows in 1/2 cup of milk. Makes 1 cup.
  • Use your potato peeler to shave chocolate. It makes long curled shavings, perfect for use in decorating tops of cakes, pies and puddings.
  • When baking drop cookies, try having a cup of very hot water handy to dip the spoon into. The batter will cut off easily and drop from the spoon without sticking.
  • When baking cream puffs, do not remove them from oven as soon as they are done, but let them stand in the closed oven until they are cool. This prevents them from falling.
  • Baking soda removes fish odor from hands and cooking utensils.
  • Thaw fish in milk for a fresh caught flavor.
  • To prevent edges of pies from browning too much, brush them with water before baking.
  • Household cleaner: put 1 pint rubbing alcohol, 2 tablespoons household ammonia and 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent into a gallon of water. A few drops of bluer coloring may be added to let you know that it is not water.
  • Try using honey instead of sugar in your fresh cucumber salads the next time you make them. It gives them a pleasant but different flavor.
  • Use a can of asparagus soup to cream your asparagus.
  • Homemade cake flour: Use 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon of regular flour. Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and sift together.
  • To make brown sugar: Blend 1/2 cup white sugar and 2 tablespoons of molasses. This equals 1/2 cup of brown sugar.
  • To double whipped cream: Add 8 marshmallows to 1/2 pint of whipping cream the night before. Refrigerate. Next day, whip until stiff. No sugar or flavoring is needed.
  • To make bananas stay fresh looking in jello, add a teaspoon of vinegar to the jello.
  • Pour pineapple juice over fresh fruits, such as apples and bananas, to keep them from darkening.

Keep your fork

Kitchen Cleaning and Safety Tips

Some of these kitchen cleaning and safety tips may be old hat to you, but hopefully there are one or two hints that will make you say, “I didn’t know that.”

  • To keep steel wool pads from rusting in humid climate, store them in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer after using. The next time you have to use it, just run it under hot water and it is “thawed” out and ready to use. The pads will wear out before they ever rust.
  • Easily remove burnt on food from a skillet by adding a drop or two of liquid dish soap and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and bring it to a boil on the stove top. Allow to cool and cleaning should be a breeze.
  • Spray plasticware with nonstick cooking spray before putting into tomato-based sauces. No more stains!
  • To aid in washing dishes, add a tablespoon of baking soda to your soapy water. It softens hands while cutting through grease.
  • To remove the odor of garlic from your hands, wet your hands with water and then rub them with a spoonful of salt and rinse. Repeat, if needed.
  • When stacking non-stick skillets on cupboard shelves, place a paper plate between each to prevent scratches. This will prolong the life of the skillet.
  • Never put a cover on anything that is cooked in milk, unless you want to spend time cleaning up the stove when it boils over.
  • After chopping garlic or onions, rub a fresh lemon wedge over both the knife blade and the cutting board to help remove the odor.
  • For quick wipe-ups of small spills, keep a box of plain white tissues near the stove and use them instead of paper towels.
  • Never wash a rolling-pin, or it may warp, and never let dough dry on it. Immediately after rolling out dough, wipe the rolling-pin clean with a towel.
  • To safely clean coffee makers, enameled cast-iron pots and similar equipment, put 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda in the pot and pour boiling water over it. A baking powder solution is also great for scrubbing butcher blocks.
  • After zesting and juicing an orange, lemon or lime, grind the remains in your garbage disposal for their refreshing scent.
  • For easy cleanup, fill your blender container with warm water, add a few drops of liquid detergent and blend for 30 seconds; rinse well.
  • To deodorize plastic storage containers in which onions or garlic were stored, wash thoroughly, then stuff a crumpled piece of newspaper in the container and snap on the lid. In a few days, the smell will disappear.
  • Never pour water on flaming fat or oil — you’ll spread the fire. If the fire’s inside the pan, slap on the lid. If outside, turn off the heat and douse the flames by tossing on a handful of baking soda or salt.
  • It is easier to clean a grill right after you’ve used it. While still hot, scrape off food bits with a metal bristle brush to keep them from hardening and charring the next time you cook out. A little work ahead of time saves a lot of work later.

Keep your fork

Stroke Signs? Remember F A S T

It’s not just us old codgers that may experience a stroke. Strokes can happen to people of all ages. If you, a loved one or even someone who you just tolerate think they may be suffering a stroke, remember FAST.

  • F – Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Have the person smile. Is the smile uneven or lopsided?
  • A – Arm Weakness – Ask if one arm is weak or numb. Have the person raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech Difficulty – Is the speech slurred? Listen to see if they are hard to understand or are unable to speak. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The grass is green.” Can the person repeat the words correctly?
  • T – If the person shows any of these signs, even if they go away, call 911 immediately. Tell them that you think this is a stroke and the person needs to get to the ER right away. Time is important, don’t delay. Note the time that symptoms first appeared as the emergency responders will want to know.

Unsure? Don’t wait, call anyway!

Keep your fork

Homemade BB/Pellet/Air/22 Target

If you are like I am, you might figure ‘Why buy something when I can make one.’ I’ve looked at some spinning/turning type targets but have hated to put out the hard-earned bucks to buy one. Here’s a solution.

The first thing you may need is some No.9 wire. If you grew up on a farm or in the era when a clothes line was common, you know what No.9 is. For those who are not familiar with this wire gauge, it’s the wire that you see holding up these cheap looking political signs all over the country. (If fact, if you have some of these signs, you can save some time in making your targets.) You want to make what looks like a croquet wire hoop with a flattened top. You want it to look like a big staple. If you want to shoot prone, you need a shorter piece of wire. If you want to sit or stand, you’ll need one the size of a campaign sign holder.

The second item you need are a few bamboo clothes pins with a heavy-duty spring. Insert the wire through the hole in the coil of the spring and move the clothes pin  to the flattened top of the hoop/holder. It should spin on the wire. Depending on the length of the hoop/holder top, you may put on more than one clothes pin.

The third item needed will be used canning jar flats, jar lids or tops taken off pork and bean or canned veggie ‘tin cans’. Clip these onto the clothes pins so they hang down into the center of the holder. You may change these as often as desired or needed.

The last and the most important item is a safe backstop and background behind your target. Always practice safe gun handling and be sure of your target.

Keep your fork