Thursday, July 7, 2022

July is National Grilling Month

It is a time to celebrate with family, friends, and your favorite food. This month, go outdoors! Breathe in fresh air and enjoy what nature has to offer with flavors from the grill.

Grilling offers the opportunity to eat a varied selection of proteins such as beef, chicken, wild game, seafood, or tofu. Make sure you expand your options by grilling a variety of fruits and vegetables. You can also experiment with rubs, herbs, or marinades. Your options for grilling are endless, smoked or not, direct or indirect heat, or try a grilled salad. One tool all grillers should have in their toolbox is a thermometer. Food should reach a temperature hot enough to kill harmful bacteria and should be kept at 140°F until grilled food is served.

Recommended internal temperatures are:

  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, Veal - 145°F    
  • Hamburgers, Ground Beef - 160°F
  • Fish - 145°F
  • Poultry, Hot Dogs - 165°F

Keep in mind, food borne illnesses increase during summer months because bacteria multiply faster in warm temperatures. Grilling safely follows the same food safety measures used in the kitchen. Make sure you wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood separate from ready-to-eat foods, refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours, and discard leftovers after 4 days.  Grilling is a healthier option than frying because much of the fat contained in or on the food drips out during the grilling process (lowering calories), while preserving vitamins and minerals. In addition to a healthy meal, outdoor grilling also provides an opportunity to spend time in fresh air with family and friends.

This July, take advantage of all the benefits that grilling has to offer.

  • Grilling brings family and friends together.
  • Grilling brings out smiles, cheerfulness, stress-relief, and uplifted moods.
  • Grilling provides entertainment, time to visit with loved ones, and time to make memories.
  • Grilling provides fresh air and Vitamin D (sunshine).
  • Grilling provides an opportunity for children and teens to learn about cooking.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension has a variety of helpful grilling resources and recipes, visit https://dinnertonight.tamu.edu/?s=grilling  and  https://bbq.tamu.edu/ to learn more.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact me, (903) 473-4580 or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu. To view upcoming events or additional information please visit https://rains.agrilife.org/ or follow Rains County AgriLife on Facebook.



Thursday, June 16, 2022

National Safety Month - Work Refrigerator Food Safety

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension observes June as National Safety Month. The month is dedicated to preventing causes of workplace injury. Spending so much time in our workplace lends itself to eating, cooking, and storing food in that workplace. Making sure you follow proper food safety measures can help keep you safe from foodborne illnesses.

Improperly stored food is one of the causes of 48 million cases of food borne illness in the US each year. 128,000 of those cases lead to hospitalizations and 3,000 result in death.

Fridge Basics. For workplace refrigerators and those at home, a refrigerator thermometer is recommended to assure that the internal temperature stays at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or lower. Food kept in between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F for longer than two hours is no longer safe to eat. This rule is good to remember after parties and celebrations when large amounts are served.

Proper Placement. Raw meat, poultry, and fish should be kept on the bottom of the fridge to prevent any liquids from leaking and contaminating any food, but especially food that will be consumed without cooking. 

Cool Down Quick. Large quantities of hot food, like a pot of soup or a large cut of meat should be divided into smaller portions to cool down more efficiently, thus spending less time in the “temperature danger zone”, between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. Small portions of hot food can be put into the fridge and should be covered to prevent drying out and picking up odors from other foods.

Wipe Weekly. Finally, leftovers are only good for 3-4 days. Shared workplace refrigerators should be emptied of leftovers at least once a week. Shelves can be wiped down with a bleach solution (2 teaspoons of bleach and 16 ounces of water) or cleaning product containing bleach. If using a homemade bleach solution, let the product sit on the surface for two minutes, then wipe dry.

The office refrigerator is a great convenience that can help add healthy options to our workday meals, but it often goes overlooked as a place that can harm your health. If you need a refrigerator thermometer, contact the Rains AgriLife Extension office. Taking these steps can help make your lunchtime food safe and flavorful.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact me, (903) 473-4580 or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu. To view upcoming events or additional information please visit https://rains.agrilife.org/ or follow Rains County AgriLife on Facebook.


Monday, April 11, 2022

Fairs, Festivals, and Events Certified Judges’ Training

Are you interested in becoming a Certified Volunteer Judge for fairs, festivals, and other events? Do you want to learn what judges are taught, so that you can improve your own skills as you prepare your entries for your local fair? Are you a volunteer with your local fair? If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then you should plan to attend an upcoming training by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. 

The Certified Volunteer Judges’ Training will be held in two sessions, Monday, May 9th and Tuesday, May 10th, and attendees may register for one day or both days. Monday, May 9th attendees will become certified volunteer judges in Horticulture, Woodworking, Food Preservation, and Baked Goods. Tuesday, May 10th attendees will become certified volunteer judges in Art, Photography, Quilting, and Fiber Arts. Registration for each day is $25.00, which covers materials, refreshments, and lunch.

Attendees will have the option to have their contact information included on a multicounty Judges List directory for use at fairs, festivals, local contests, etc. Additionally, attendees my purchase a Certified Volunteer Judge name tag for an additional $10.00. 

Creative Arts contests hold creativities at its finest. Learning the process involved in judging this wide variety of entries is a talent within itself. Don’t miss your opportunity to join unique group, register to attend today! 

Those interested may sign up for one day of training or join us for both days. Deadline for registration is May 2nd. Both training day will be held in Emory at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office, 410 Tawakoni Drive. You may pick up a registration form at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service office or you may register online by visiting https://rains.agrilife.org/ffe_jt/

In case you missed my last article, Rains County Fair Creative Arts entries will be accepted on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, and Wednesday, September 7, 2022, between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the Creative Arts Building at the fairgrounds (with Horticulture entries only accepted Wednesday). Creative Arts Judging is closed to the public. The exhibit building will open with the fair on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. Entries for the Adult Baked Goods contest will be accepted on Saturday, September 17, 2022, in the Creative Arts building between 6:00-6:30 p.m. and judging will begin at 7:00 p.m. Entries for the Youth Baked Goods contest will be accepted on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, in the Creative Arts building between 6:00-6:30 p.m. and judging will begin at 7:00 p.m. 

If you have questions or concerns, please contact me, (903) 473-4580 or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu. To view upcoming events or additional information please visit https://rains.agrilife.org/ or follow Rains County AgriLife on Facebook.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

How will you participate in the Rains County Fair?

Even though it is still a few months away, it is never too early to start thinking about your county fair entries! The 92nd Rains County Fair will be held September 13-17, 2022. Mark your calendars! 

Creative Arts. The Rains County Fair Creative Arts contests are open to residents, young and old, from Rains and surrounding counties. If you have never entered before, give it a try; we love new exhibitors! Rains County Fair Creative Arts Divisions include Antiques, Canned Foods, Collections, Fine Arts, Handcrafts, Horticulture, Needlework, Photography, and Quilting. Special age groups, senior and youth age categories, are judged in special age divisions. If you would like additional information on a specific division, please visit https://rains.agrilife.org/county-fair/. The 2022 Fair Book will be posted in early summer, but you may reference the 2021 Fair Book for division information.

Rains Creative Arts entries will be accepted on Tuesday, September 6, 2022, and Wednesday, September 7, 2022, between 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. at the Creative Arts Building at the fairgrounds (with Horticulture entries only accepted Wednesday). Creative Arts Judging is closed to the public. The exhibit building will open with the fair on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. 

Baked Goods. If baking and cooking is more in line with your areas of interest, you do not want to miss entering the Adult or Youth Baked Goods contest. Entries for the Adult Baked Goods contest will be accepted on Saturday, September 17, 2022, in the Creative Arts building between 6:00-6:30 p.m. and judging will begin at 7:00 p.m. Entries for the Youth Baked Goods contest will be accepted on Tuesday, September 13, 2022, in the Creative Arts building between 6:00-6:30 p.m. and judging will begin at 7:00 p.m. 

Looking for something with a little more spice? Details for the Annual Rains County Fair Chili Cook-Off will be available shortly. 

Livestock. Youth Livestock Shows are a county fair staple. Rains County youth may show animals in the following categories: Breeding Beef Heifers, Dairy Heifers, Market Steers, Market Goats, Market Lambs, or Market Swine. If you have a child interested in showing an animal at the Rains County Fair Youth Livestock Show, please call (903) 473-4580. Intent to participate in the Rains County Youth Livestock Show must be received by the Rains County Extension Office by May 2nd. Youth in grades 3rd-12th are eligible to participate. 

For youth ages 4-7 years of age, the annual Mutton Bustin’ contest will be held Friday, September 16, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Additional details will be available shortly. 

The Rains County Fair is a fun filled week and offers something for everyone. Information on other events, contests, and entertainment will be available shortly; please visit our website regularly for updates, https://rains.agrilife.org/county-fair/. We look forward to seeing you at the fairgrounds!

If you have questions or concerns, please contact me, (903) 473-4580 or email Sarah.Latham@ag.tamu.edu. To view upcoming events or additional information please visit https://rains.agrilife.org/ or follow Rains County AgriLife on Facebook.