Be Safe & Smart During Holiday Festivities, Starting in the Kitchen
The holiday season is fun for many reasons. We get to gather with family, see friends, make great food, relax and appreciate the good things in life.
The holidays, especially holiday cooking, also can be risky. We’re not talking about Aunt Donna’s Jell-O casserole here (though, be warned!). We want to ensure that hot surfaces, open flames and sharp graters, carvers and openers are safely managed, keeping those kids and distracted adults in good holiday spirit.
So let’s start with holiday kitchen safety!
OK, let’s get this out of the way. Please, if you’re deep frying your bird, make sure that beauty is completely thawed and patted dry. You’ve probably seen the safety demonstrations, but just in case, the result of dipping dinner in a deep frier results in a bit more than a flare up. See the video here.
If possible, create some type of barrier between the food prep/cooking areas and the surrounding tumult of holiday fun. Get out that old dog gate, or get a partner to watch your back while you cook. Anyone not helping to cook should be at least three feet away from the hot and sharp items in the kitchen and cooking areas. In particular, keep young children and pets at bay.
Anyone assisting in food prep and cooking should roll up the sleeves and generally avoid baggy clothing; it’s too easy for the comfy holiday clothes to catch a flame, the handle of a hot pan, or brush across and send a knife air born.
Keep the Kitchen Clean
Hey, we’re not saying you can’t make a mess! That’s half the fun of cooking. But make sure any slippery spills to the floor are wiped away. Any grease or oil close to flame should be soaked up and tossed. Paper products and other flammables, including the recipe on your smart phone, should be kept away from boiling pots. The last thing you need is Aunt Donna’s disparaging look because she’s injured herself AND because you refuse to try her “delicious dessert” dish.
Holiday kitchen safety is about common sense, so if you’re a novice, don’t be deterred. Just do what you’ve always been told about keeping a fire extinguisher handy and ensuring smoke detector batteries work. This is year-round residential safety, of course, but a central component to holiday kitchen safety.
Be Thankful for Teamwork
It’s hard to do everything yourself. And no one wants a Festivus martyr. Get the responsible teen to lend a hand, or the best pal who needs to stay away from shouting football fans. Even if your teammate is doing less than the heavy lifting, it’s good to have some company. If you need to take a break, grab something from the pantry or check in again on Aunt Donna, you have someone standing by to watch the timer, keep the kids at bay and turn down a flame as needed.
And, remember, “too many cooks in the kitchen” is a cliche for a reason. Make your team small. In other words, keep the beer and wine station somewhere outside the work area, for everyone’s benefit.
Holiday Kitchen Safety Means Good Planning
Avoid trying to do everything at once. There will be some items you can get started, or even complete, before the house fills up. Space is always at a premium, especially in many manufactured homes.
When you go to soak your beans on celebration eve, think about baking a pie or two. Make a soup. This will free up the oven and countertop space. The goal is to create an easier process and more safe cooking environment. If your ingredients are in large containers, perhaps find something to decant and downsize; even pre-mix ingredients you know you’ll need to add at once to a particular recipe. More space, less time spent in those final hours and fewer complications will make for a better experience and better food!
Post Meal Safety
Ok, you’ve done all the cooking. Friends and relatives have cheered your name! Now, just turn off the oven and range, and clear out the sharp objects so you can enjoy your meal and your holiday. Let someone else clean up the rest. A little bit of soapy water never hurt anyone.