Check out more parade shots from the Asheboro and Randleman Christmas parades.
Check out more parade shots from the Asheboro and Randleman Christmas parades.
ASHEBORO — It’s hard to think of the holidays without thinking about food — roast ham, standing rib roast, brisket with gravy, perhaps even a spicy, deep-fried turkey. And don’t forget the creamy mashed potatoes and the pies, cookies and other special treats for the holiday season.
With these fond thoughts of holiday foods comes the pressure to prepare everything just right and to serve safe food to all those guests. The cookies and mashed potatoes are relatively straightforward, but how do you know if a turkey or a beef roast is thoroughly cooked? Is “done” the same as “safe”? Not always.
Doneness reflects subjective qualities such as the appearance, texture and optimum flavor of food. However, research has shown that these qualities aren’t necessarily reliable indicators of safety. Only a food thermometer can be relied upon to accurately ensure destruction of pathogens that might be in the food. Visual signs of doneness should be reserved for situations in which doneness is reached after the food has reached a safe temperature.
Poultry is one product that generally reaches a safe temperature (160 degrees F) before most consumers consider it done (165-180 degrees F). At an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit throughout, pathogenic bacteria have been destroyed, but poultry will still be pink and raw-looking near the bone and the juices will be pink and/or cloudy. At temperatures of 170 degrees F for white meat and 180 degrees F for dark meat, the flesh of poultry will no longer be pink, the juices will run clear and the joints will move easily. Visual clues, however, can’t be trusted for the stuffing. The only sure way to be sure the stuffing has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F is to use a thermometer.
Beef is another product that needs a thermometer to ensure safety. While few people like their chicken and turkey pink, many prefer beef that is still red or pink in the middle. Luckily, a solid muscle beef roast that has been cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F or higher will have reached a temperature hot enough on the surface to destroy E. coli and other pathogenic bacteria. Beef products that have been rolled, ground, or mechanically tenderized, however, need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F to ensure safety. Recent research has confirmed that ground beef may turn brown before it has reached 160 degrees F. The only way to ensure safety and doneness is by using a food thermometer. For patties, this often means inserting a thermometer sideways into the hamburger in order to get an accurate reading. A hamburger cooked at 160 degrees F, measured with a food thermometer throughout the patty, is safe — regardless of the color.
Pork roasts are considered safe if they have been cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. At this temperature, the center of the roast may still be somewhat pink. Pork chops also may have just a trace of pink color at this temperature. Again, the only way to ensure that pork with any pinkness has reached a safe temperature is with a meat thermometer.
To ensure safety, casseroles and other combination dishes need to be cooked to 165 degrees F in the center of the dish as measured with a food thermometer. These dishes are traditionally composed of cooked foods and then heated to combine flavors. However, pathogenic bacteria could survive if the meat or poultry component of a casserole is merely “browned” and the casserole was not subsequently heated thoroughly, especially if the dish was assembled in advance and refrigerated. These dishes display no visible signs of doneness. The visual descriptor, “cook until hot and steamy” is difficult to verify. Only by using a food thermometer can you be sure the product has been heated to a safe temperature.
The best part about using a food thermometer is that it takes the guesswork out of cooking. No more cutting into your turkey or beef roast to see if it looks done. Simply place the food thermometer into the food in a couple of places and check the temperature of the food. By using a food thermometer on a regular basis, you can be assured that foods are done as well as safe.
Jeannie M. Leonard is a Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent with the NC Cooperative Extension – Randolph County Center
ASHEBORO — Whether we are one of the early-birds who enjoy decorating for the holidays at 12:01 a.m. on November 1 or the more subtle Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the corner type folks, one name with which we are all familiar this time of year is of that jolly round fellow — good ole’ Saint Nick. There has been some doubt surrounding the existence of this plump, rosy-cheeked elf and whether or not he can be written off as a child’s imagination or an urban legend but take it from me — Santa is real and I have seen his spirit myself. There is a story circulating the typical social media sources and I would like to share a brief and summarized version with you.
“I remember riding my bike to Grandma’s the day my big sister dropped the bomb proclaiming that “Santa wasn’t real.” I rode my bike furiously to my Grandma’s because I knew she of all people would be honest with me. With the comfort of one of her world-famous cinnamon buns I told her the news. “No Santa Claus!” she snorted. “Ridiculous! Don’t believe it. That rumor has been going around for years and it makes me mad, plain mad. Now, put on your coat, and let’s go.”
We pulled up to Kerby’s General Store and my Grandma handed me $10. “Take this money,” she said, “and buy something for someone who needs it. I’ll wait for you in the car.” She turned around and left my 8 year old self in there all alone. I had never shopped all by myself before! The store was filled with people rushing around trying to finish last minute Christmas shopping. I clutched that ten dollar bill, racking my brain, trying to figure what to buy and who on Earth to buy it for. I thought of everybody I knew: my family, my friends, my neighbors, the kids at school, and the people at church. I was just about thought out, when I suddenly thought of Bobby Decker. He was a kid with bad breath and messy hair and he sat right behind me in class. Bobby Decker didn’t have a coat. I knew that because he never went out for recess during the winter. His mother always wrote a note, telling the teacher that he had a cough, but all the kids knew that Bobby Decker didn’t have a cough …. he didn’t have a coat.
Excitement inside of me grew as I sifted through the aisles to pick Bobby Decker the perfect coat. I settled on a red corduroy one that had a hood to it. It looked really warm and I thought he would like that. “Is this a Christmas present?” the lady behind the counter asked as I laid my $10 down. “Yes,” I replied shyly, “It’s… for Bobby Decker.” The nice lady smiled at me and wished me a Merry Christmas.
That evening Grandma helped me wrap the coat in Christmas paper and ribbons. We wrote, “To: Bobby, From: Santa Claus.” Santa always insisted on secrecy, my Grandma told me. In the process, the price tag fell off and Grandma just tucked it in her Bible.
Afterwards, my Grandma drove me to Bobby Decker’s house, explaining as we went that I was now and forever officially one of Santa’s helpers. We parked down the street and crept to the bushes in front of the walk. She nudged me and I dashed to the front door, threw the present down on his step, pounded his doorbell and flew back to the safety of the bushes with Grandma.
Together we waited breathlessly in the darkness for the front door to open. Finally, it did and there stood Bobby.
Fifty years haven’t dimmed the thrill of those moments spent shivering, beside my Grandma, in Bobby Decker’s bushes. That night, I realized that those awful rumors about Santa Claus were just what Grandma had said they were: ridiculous. Santa was alive and well, and we were on his team. I still have Grandma’s Bible, with the price tag tucked inside: $19.95.”
Although I am unsure of the author and quite unsure of the origin story to this piece, I am sure of one thing – that Grandma was a highly prized elf at the North Pole and I aspire to live up to her spirit of Christmas.
With that thought in mind, Randolph County 4-H and Family and Consumer Sciences created the first annual Blanket in a Box Party to encourage all of Santa’s teammates to come together and join us in a virtual evening of Christmas cheer, all the while creating a blanket to donate back to Brenner Children’s Hospital. As always, we had high hopes for this event but the amount of interest has completely blown us away. In less than 24 hours, we reached our maximum amount of participants able to receive the materials free of charge. When I say we were excited — I mean our hearts were pounding much like those characters in the story whilst crouched behind a bush. With that being said, we still want to encourage those that would like to participate to join us on December 7 for a virtual blanket making demonstration and Christmas party. The supplies you need are: 1 yard of solid fleece fabric; 1 yard of patterned fleece fabric; Scissors; Ruler; Some yummy treats to celebrate.
All blanket drop-offs can be made to the Randolph County Cooperative Extension office at 1003 S. Fayetteville Street in Asheboro prior to December 17th. All ages are welcome to participate.
If nothing else, I hope this story has touched you and inspired you to share the Christmas spirit, much like it inspired me to host this event.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from someone on Santa Claus’ team!
McKenna Gardener is a 4-H Program Assistant at the N.C. Cooperative Extension, Randolph County Center
City to hold drive-thru, while car club gears up for festive cruising on Saturday, October 30
ASHEBORO — At least two major Halloween-related activities are slated for Asheboro on Saturday, one geared toward youth and the other more oriented toward youth and adults.
Either way, the intent is to provide good times for all involved.
The 13th annual Trick or Treat in the Park is put on by the City of Asheboro’s Cultural and Recreation Service department. For the second year in a row, it will be a drive-thru event at Bicentennial Park as part of pandemic-based precautions.
“Because this event is larger-scale event, we have to plan for it far in advance,” said Jody Maness, assistant superintendent for the recreation department. “We’re adapting as necessary. We’ll make the best of it.”
The drive-thru will run from 4-6 p.m. It isn’t open to pedestrians in an effort to adhere to social distancing, sanitation and safety guidelines, according to information from the city.
This year’s event is set for a day before Halloween because Oct. 31 falls on a Sunday.
Maness said local businesses have donated candy and others will supply items that might advertise their businesses.
“Whatever the business deems as a nice treat,” Maness said. “You leave there with tons and tons of candy. A pretty good haul.”
City employees are the only personnel permitted to hand out candy during the vent. The full staff from the recreation department is expected to be conducting the event.
“It’s an all-hands on deck type of approach,” Maness said.
Most visitors to the park will be dressed in costumes, both youngsters and adults.
Last year’s event drew more than 425 vehicles.
“It’s a safe alternative to door-to-door,” Maness said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Yet ideally, the pre-pandemic format will return next year.
“We’re hoping in (2022) we can open it up to a full event again,” Maness said.
Cruising can be a real treat
In the evening, Cruising for a Cause will be held with a Halloween theme.
It’s set for 6 p.m.-midnight, based on Northgate Commons parking lot at 1457 North Fayetteville St.
It’s organized by Michael Allred of Grounded Elegance Car Club and Mary Murkin of Brightside Gallery.
Each month, Cruising for a Cause has a different theme.
This time, it’s focused on the children with the trunk or treat activity. Candy and cookies will be available, Murkin said.
Trunk or treating for youth will be held from 6-7:30 p.m., with hosts Grounded Elegance Car Club, unSEEnmovMEnt Car Club and Knockturnal Car Club and Murkin.
Murkin said many of the participants will likely decorate their vehicles and members of the car club are expected to dress in costumes.
This will be the seventh Cruising for a Cause, an activity that began in May 2020 as a means to get people out of their homes in a health-safety environment during the pandemic.
“It was a way to still conduct some socializing,” Murkin said. “They could stay in their cars and could still do all the waving and honking.”
Beginning at 7:30 p.m., Grounded Elegance Car Club will conduct its inaugural Halloween “Show and Glow” competition. Prizes will be awarded for: 1) Best Halloween decorations on and around car, 2) Best LED lights and 3) Best vehicle overall.
The cruising will take place from 8 p.m.-midnight along a 4-mile stretch of Fayetteville Street. It’s billed as a way to embrace nostalgia and make new memories.
Murkin said many area residents will take spots in parking lots on the route, watching the cruising much like they might view a parade.
“It’s trying to go back to a simpler time,” she said. “The way it was back in the day.”
Murkin said the Cruising for a Cause has been especially embraced by adults who might remember such activities in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
“The largest majority of people who’ve fallen in love with this is middle-age and older,” she said. “This was our social media of the day.”