I had the privilege of helping some friends welcome home a beloved son. He had been away for quite some time.
Friends and family gathered together for a relaxed, happy day. The hostess of the gathering wanted good friends, good food, and joy at her party. Her prayers were answered. What a wonderful time!!
I was asked to help with the menu for the day. The event was an open house meaning that the food would be sitting out for 4 hours.
Keeping food at proper temperatures – indoor and out – is critical in preventing the growth of food borne bacteria. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” – between 40° F and 140° F – for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F.
I made a recipe I call Pennsylvania Potato Salad that day for the party. It calls for cooked bacon & I had smoky maple bacon on hand and baked it in the oven until crisp.
I got so many comments on the subtle maple flavor in the potato salad that I think I will make sure it is always in this dish from now on.
That’s my hint for today. Bake your bacon. It will cook evenly, and lie flat. If it splatters and you have a self cleaning oven-well, clean up is easy. I line the cookie sheet with foil, Bake at 350 for about 20-25 minutes until crisp. I save the bacon grease for cooking, storing it in the fridge indefinitely in a mason jar.
This recipe came to me from my friend Kathy, a former pastor’s wife, who confessed that she didn’t make it often because it is so good, she couldn’t stop eating it. :-)
Included are some tips for keeping cold food cold and hot food hot.
PENNSYLVANIA POTATO SALAD
5 lbs. red potatoes
1/2 c. onions, chopped
6 eggs, hard boiled
1/2 lb. bacon, fried crisp and crumbled
In large pan, cover potatoes in salted water and cook until fork tender. Drain and cool completely.
Place eggs in saucepan and cover with cool water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Cover pan and turn off heat. Leave eggs for 45 minutes, then rinse with cool water and cool completely before peeling.
Peel potatoes, if desired, and cut into chunks. Cut up eggs. Combine dressing with above ingredients and chill until serving time. Yield: 20+ servings.
Potato Salad Dressing
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. white vinegar
1 tsp. salt
2-1/2 T. margarine
2 c. Miracle Whip salad dressing
2 c. milk
4 T. all purpose flour
In a saucepan, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Mix eggs into dry ingredients.
Slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Add margarine and vinegar. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cool completely. Add Miracle Whip. Combine with potatoes, eggs, onions, and bacon.
I admit I was not too impressed with the dressing until I added the Miracle Whip. It suddenly changed from yuck to yum! Recipe makes a LARGE amount.
Serving Picnic Food: Keep it COLD / HOT
Keeping food at proper temperatures – indoor and out – is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” – between 40° F and 140° F – for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90° F. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to food borne illness.
Instead, follow these simple rules for keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Cold perishable food should be kept in the cooler at 40° F or below until serving time.
- Once you’ve served it, it should not sit out for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90° F. If it does – discard it.
- Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice, or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
Hot food should be kept hot, at or above 140° F.
- Wrap it well and place it in an insulated container until serving.
- Just as with cold food – these foods should not sit out for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour in temperatures above 90° F. If food is left out longer, throw it away to be safe.
- Platter Warning:
Prevent “Cross-Contamination” When Serving
- Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving — unless they’ve been washed first in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, you can spread bacteria from the raw juices to your cooked or ready-to-eat food.
- This is particularly important to remember when serving cooked foods from the grill.