Keep eggnog, other treats safe to eat
December is the most cooking-intensive month, even for people who don't cook that frequently the rest of the year. To make sure that the food you cook and serve is safe, follow these guidelines to keep bacteria growth down:
• Keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees) and cold foods cold (below 40 degrees). The hundred degrees in between is considered the danger zone where the bacteria that can make you sick thrive. You shouldn't keep perishable or cooked foods above 40 degrees or below 140 degrees for more than two hours.
• Use pasteurized eggs and apple cider in punches and eggnog, especially if you are serving guests, who could have compromised immune systems but might not want to speak up about it. And just because you can't see the raw egg in that batch of cookie dough doesn't mean it's not there, so resist the urge to sneak a bite of uncooked dough. For drinks like eggnog or milk for coffee, nestle the container in a bowl of ice to keep cold.
• When storing hot leftovers, it's imperative to cool the food quickly. A giant block of hot stuffing in the fridge will take a long time to cool and will heat up everything else in the fridge, too, potentially making other foods unsafe. Divide the food into smaller containers and/or in shallow containers that will help the food cool faster.
For more holiday food safety tips, go to fsis.usda.gov/fact_sheets/Seasonal_Food_Safety_Fact_Sheets.
— Addie Broyles
6 large eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
4 cups milk, divided
1 tsp. vanilla
Brandy, rum or bourbon (optional)
In large, thick-bottom saucepan, beat together eggs, sugar and salt, if desired. Stir in 2 cups of the milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon with a thin film and reaches 160 degrees, which takes about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in remaining 2 cups milk, and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, several hours or overnight. Just before serving, pour into bowl or pitcher. Garnish with nutmeg, if desired. Serve immediately. Serves 12.
— The American Egg Board