Monday, November 25

Safe Holiday Eating

by Taylor Hughes

As we approach the holiday, it is important to make sure you know all the safety precautions for the food you plan to prepare.

Turkey Prep
There are three safe ways to thaw food: refrigerate, submerge in cold water, and microwave.

You must plan ahead if you are going to thaw your turkey in the fridge. Allow for approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds.

Submerging the turkey in cold water takes less time, however, you must change the water every 30 minutes until the turkey is completely thawed.

Cold water thawing times:
4-12 pounds: 2-6 hours
12-16 pounds: 6-8 hours
20-24 pounds: 10-12 hours

For microwave thawing, follow the microwave’s instruction for defrosting. You must cook it immediately after it’s been thawed because it may become partially cooked.

Cooking Tips
Stuffing 101: For optimal safety, it is best to cook the stuffing separately. If you want cook your stuffing inside the turkey, be sure to place stuffing inside turkey just before cooking and make sure that it reaches a temperature of 165°.

Turkeys must be cooked in the oven at a temperature of at least 325°. Place the thawed turkey breast-side up in a roasting pan 2-2.5 inches deep. The internal temperature of the turkey must reach 165°.

Roasting times:
4-6 pounds: 1 ½ - 2 ¼ hours
6-8 pounds: 2 ¼ -3 ¼ hours
8-12 pounds: 2 ¾ - 3 hours
12-14 pounds: 3- 3 ¾ hours
18-20 pounds: 4 ¼ -4 ½ hours

20-24 pounds: 4 ½ -5 hours

Here's wishing you a happy, and healthy, Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 20

The Deceptive Barrenness of Late Fall

by Richard S. Kordesh

No matter how empty the garden in late fall might appear, there’s actually much to see. 

A row of hardy beets continues to grow in our raised bed. The variable temperatures characteristic of the season allow tougher root vegetables like these to endure beyond the time when most of the other plants have gone to rest.

Shrubs now dormant continue to shed their flaky offerings upon the late November ground. Red, green, yellow, and gold leaves cling to bushes and pear trees. More of them form a thin, colorful blanket on the turf. Soon, I’ll rake them into the compost bin where a quiet transformation over the colder months will yield nutrients for next summer’s cucumbers and tomatoes.

Inside the house, other gifts from the fall garden sit on a kitchen platter prior to their immersion in the simmering broth of a pot roast. This slow-cook recipe, taught to us by our friend, Tom, calls for carrots, potatoes, onions, celery, garlic, and parsnips. The first three have been harvested from our own beds and sacks.

At a nearby market, I’ve met some of the farmers whose crops end up on our table. The roast in its bubbling juices blends good things from varied sources: vegetables from our yard and regional farms, and know-how from our friends. Nearby yields infuse into an autumn meal distinctive aromas and flavors.

As we anticipate the approach of winter’s more barren landscape, we can savor and give thanks for the tasty, durable abundance afforded by our place.

Guest blogger Richard S. Kordesh is the author of Restoring Power to Parents and Places and has worked professionally in the community development field for 35 years. Visit Richard's website for more

Thursday, November 14

Workouts for your brain

by JCC Association and Club One

Your brain is like any muscle: you need to use it or you’ll lose it. 

Daily brain training challenges memory, attention, language, visual skills and executive function.

Try these tips – it’s not as hard as you think.

Helps maintain concentration despite distractions and focus on several activities at once. 

By changing routines, i.e. car routes or re-organizing your desk, you’ll force your brain to pay attention.

Executive FunctionActivities using logic, reasoning and strategy are activities you do daily. 

A brief visit with a friend boosts intellectual performance by requiring you to consider responses and desired outcomes.

Memory: Crucial role in cognitive activities, including reading, reasoning and mental calculation. 

Try memorizing something challenging or brush your teeth with the opposite hand. This builds new associations between different neural connections.

Language: Challenges our ability to recognize, remember and understand words. 

Take time to read new materials and understand words in context, this helps you build your language skills.

Visual: Analyzing visual information is necessary to be able to act within your environment. 

Try walking into a room and picking out 5 items with their location. After you leave, try to recall the 5 items.

Sources: Bernard Croisile, M.D. Neurology, Ph. D. Neuropsychology

Note: The information presented here is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult a physician before starting any exercise. We suggest that you discontinue exercise immediately if you feel you’re exercising beyond your current abilities.

Tuesday, November 5

Katz Festival: The first line of the parental job description

by John Schwartz

I’m really looking forward to this visit to Indianapolis, and to talking with everybody about Oddly Normal, our family memoir about raising a gay son. 

It leads to wonderful conversations with people who want to share their own stories about their own families. 

Oddly Normal isn’t a self-help book – I don’t think anybody would really find guidance in the crazy path that our lives have taken. But a good memoir doesn’t instruct, it leads us to reflect on the path we would take. 

And so that’s why I mention, at the beginning of the book, the only piece of parental guidance that ever rang perfectly true to me: the first words of Dr. Benjamin Spock’s 1946 masterpiece, Baby and Child Care, published in 1946. 

"Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do," Spock writes. 

The rest is commentary, as the sage Hillel said. 

Parents and families raising a child who is different certainly can find themselves in unexpected and unusual situations, facing an unfamiliar landscape. 

But the job of parenting, the support of a family, is the same whatever it is that makes a child different – whether we’re talking about a child growing up gay, or with a learning disability, or being the heavy kid or the short kid or the kid on the autism spectrum. 

Loving our kids so they can learn to love themselves is the first line of the parental job description.
The rest is commentary.

Guest blogger John Schwartz is author of the book Oddly Normal and is set to appear as a featured speaker at the 15th Annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts.