Go Into the Kitchen

The Our Time classes are having so much fun going into the kitchen to take a peek… Children are often eager to help in the kitchen and the spontaneous learning that happens while making something together is priceless.  Measuring, counting, letters, opposites, colors, shapes, reading a recipe, talking about family traditions, and more!  Including children in food preparation, whether it be a weeknight dinner or a special dessert, is a wonderful way to spend quality time together.

Kitchen safety should always be the highest priority when cooking with children.  We love the great information in the article below written by Liza Finlay for TodaysParent.com.

The Healthy Kitchen Guide by Liza Finlay

The kitchen is the most lived-in room of the house, the very heart of the home. It’s where we congregate to chew the fat and chow down. But collected together in a hundred-or-so square feet are all sorts of potential hazards including knives, flames, toxic substances and a virtual cesspool of bacteria. Kidproofing the kitchen isn’t just a good idea — it’s a safety essential.
Top Five Kitchen Hazards

1. Stoves Keep small children clear of the most dangerous area in the kitchen — the few feet just in front of the stove. The Canada Safety Council goes so far as to suggest parents create a “no go zone” by taping off that area to define a clear boundary for kids. And if the sides of your stove are exposed, make children aware of that hot spot too (although some newer models come heavily insulated). Take added precautions by using only back burners and, when you must use front burners, turn pot handles towards the backsplash, out of harm’s way.

2. Knives Store knives in a hard-to-reach place, ideally a contained unit like a knife block and not loose in a drawer. (It’s also a good idea to keep dishwashers locked so that curious hands don’t find knives in the cutlery rack.) And, importantly, keep them sharp; dull knives do more damage because they require greater pressure, leading to more serious injury.

3. Small appliances Put electrical appliances in cupboards whenever possible. If toasters and coffee makers must remain on the counter, push them out of reach (and away from the sink!) and bundle and hide the cords. Don’t forget to put safety plugs in empty sockets.

4. Toxic chemicals Use simple child locks to store household cleaners that contain lethal chemicals. Even seemingly innocuous substances, like vitamins and dish detergent, can make a child sick if consumed in large quantities.

5. Hot water Turn down the temperature on your hot-water tank. Most water heaters are set to 140°F (60°C) and at this temperature a child’s skin burns in less than one second. But at 102°F (49°C), it would take young skin up to 10 minutes to suffer a third-degree burn. Since hot tap water is the leading cause of scalding injury among young children in Canada, turning the temperature down greatly reduces risk.

Food Prep and Storage

There are lots of nasty creatures that can thrive in meat, dairy foods and produce. The four most common in Canada are salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and listeria (one of the more deadly strains of bacteria).

“While the vast majority of farms and supermarkets are aware of the danger and have taken measures to protect consumers, we all have to exercise precaution at home,” says Doug Powell, scientific director of the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph, in Ontario. Here are some of the precautionary measures experts like Powell take in their own homes:

• Keep most food (with the obvious exception of dried and canned goods) out of the so-called “danger zone,” the cozy environment above fridge temperature and below oven temperature. That means eating cooked foods while still hot, storing most produce in the fridge and throwing away meals that have been left at room temperature for more than two hours.

• If eating leftovers, be sure to reheat before consuming (see Cooking Safe).

• Keep your refrigerator set at 39°F (4°C).

• Thaw food in the fridge, not on the counter.

• When grocery shopping, pick up refrigerated and frozen items last.

• Don’t store meat on the top shelves of the fridge where dripping juices can contaminate lower shelves.

• Avoid canned foods that bulge, leak or are dented at the seam or rim. Slightly dented cans that do not have leaks can still be used if the food seems fine.

Don’t Get Crossed

You’re barbecuing your famous honey chicken wings and they’re grilled to perfection. Maybe just one more dab of the marinade. Stop right there! You’re about to commit what many experts name as their number-one food safety concern. “Cross-contamination” is a clinical term to describe how bacteria is spread when uncontaminated items are allowed to come in contact with a contaminated source.

So, says Freya Volstad, a public health inspector with Calgary Health Region, get your entire family into the habit of washing hands frequently while cooking and resist the temptation to dip pinkies into batters and dressings — which may introduce bacteria into food.

Here are a few of Volstad’s other do’s and don’ts for a healthy kitchen:

DO use a separate cutting board for preparing meats. Wash all cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use.

DO replace deeply scratched cutting boards (they’re hard to clean properly).

DO change dishcloths, towels and aprons daily. And use disposable cloths or paper towels to wipe up potentially bug-laden spills.

DON’T use sponges in the kitchen — they cannot be adequately sanitized.

DON’T use the same plate or tongs to carry raw and cooked meats.

Vicious Veggies

Contaminated produce poses as big a threat to public health as meat does. In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented more than 18,000 food-borne illnesses linked to fruits and vegetables between 1990 and 2002; in the same period, only 9,195 cases were traced to beef and 9,612 to poultry.

“It’s great that Canadians are eating fresh fruits and vegetables, and we don’t want to deter that,” says Doug Powell, scientific director of the Food Safety Network at the University of Guelph, “but we do have to be vigilant about washing fresh produce before eating it.”

Tip: Bacteria can live on the surface of fresh fruit and vegetables for weeks so it’s important to clean produce just before consuming. A vigorous scrub under a running tap should do the trick, says Powell; the friction of rushing water hitting the fruit eliminates more bacteria than soap or special vegetable washes ever could. You may even want to run vegetables under the tap before peeling, to avoid the risk of contamination.

Cooking Safe

Myth: When the juices run clear, the chicken is cooked.

Reality: Appearances can be deceiving. To be really sure that harmful bacteria are killed, meats must reach high internal temperatures. Thermometers — inserted into the deepest part of the cut — are the best way to determine if your meat is adequately cooked. As a guide, they must reach the following settings to be safe:

Ground beef or pork: 160°F (71°C)

Ground poultry: 175°F (80°C)

Beef, lamb, veal or steak (rare to well done): 140–170°F (60–77°C)

Pork chops or ham: 160°F (71°)

Whole chicken or turkey (stuffed): 180°F (82°C)

Chicken or turkey pieces: 170°F (77°C)

Rolled stuffed beef or steak: 160°F (71°C)

Leftovers (reheated): 165°F (74°C)

Fire Facts

Most household fires start in the kitchen and according to the Office of the Ontario Fire Marshal, most of these can be blamed on negligent use of the stove and oven. So keep heat sources clean and a fire extinguisher handy. Remember to change the batteries in your smoke alarm once a year or when you hear intermittent beeping. (Checking batteries when you reset clocks in spring and fall is a handy way to remember!)

If your kids haven’t learned the stop, drop, roll mantra, teach them. If clothing catches fire: Stop moving, drop to the floor, cover your face and roll until flames are extinguished.

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