Everyone has some erratic and irrational tendencies, right? (Hint: say yes.)
Everyone has a quirky issue or two, or ten, yes? (At least nod your head!)
I mean, sometimes that is what makes one endearing to others, those little idiosyncrasies... (That's what my friends tell me at least!)
You could be the coolest person on the planet, or at least second to me, and we could get along better than chocolate and strawberries on Valentine's Day...but our friendship could spiral down waaaaaaay quick into a chaotic and dismal abyss if you decide you want to cook for me or invite me to your BBQ. If you don't concede to my irrational tendencies and cleaning practices then we will have a huge problem. And by problem I mean problem. See I am no longer polite and silent about my hang-ups; I scream them from the mountain tops.
Actually, some very responsible and safe-food handling friends recently got a first-hand experience with my haz-mat BLEACH THE CRAP OUT OF EVERYTHING approach to cooking, and we all survived and we are still friends and I am still allowed in their house but...
You see, I have a teensy, itty-bitty issue with the potential slight trace of...
on my chicken and salads and...
...lurking in my burger or side dishes.
And, I am convinced that if I do not oversee every moment of your cooking I, or my family, will end up in the hospital.
Summers make me
wring my hands gnash my teeth seek biofeedback therapy a little uncomfy; everyone and their grandma is having a BBQ and I'm invited, along with my family, as ground beef, chicken and pork are pulled out to be grilled and served next to home made fruit and potato salads...
Here's a head's up, so you won't get offended. I probably won't eat. And I most definitely won't let my kids eat. Unless we bring our own food. Like hot dogs. And bleach water...
Why? Well, unless I can personally verify that the watermelon's rind, or any fruit rind for that matter, was washed with at LEAST soap and water, and unless I can verify that separate tongs are used for raw and cooked meats, and that all gnasty meat juices have been eradicated with bleach, I just won't be able to try your "secret recipe" or "famous dish". Because to me "secret" is evil and "famous" means I might find it highlighted it in the most current Mayo Clinic book. And that's not Mayo the condiment, that's Mayo the HOSPITAL!
OK OK so, this is a bit harsh. I am not THAT bad...I mean, there are some reasonable bones in this body. I realize that MOST BBQ's and meals go without a hitch and living in fear is about as fun as putting Africanized bees in your mouth, but, when it comes to kids and their underdeveloped immune systems, no risk is worth them getting sick, especially since they get much sicker than adults and sometimes sustain permanent injuries from food poisoning.
And for that reason, let's just lay down 10 simple safety tips for your BBQ parties, so you have a safe summer and I don't visit a room with padded walls or IV drips mmmmmkay??
1. If you are the meat prep person, keep raw meat and juices away from all other foods, never preparing them at the same time you make a fruit salad or potato salad or storing them together. Wear gloves and/or wash hands with warm soap and water immediately after handling raw food, don't forget to clean every surface you touch! Keep meats covered and nice and cold until cooked.
2. If you can, prepare all your other foods before your meats and keep them refrigerated until serving, on the TOP shelf and covered so nothing can drip/fall inside. Bleach out your sink and spigot/handles and clean all surfaces before preparing salads of any kind. Your sink and that nasty sponge/rag you keep around is often dirtier than your bathroom!
3. Don't prepare foods in your bathroom. Kramer was whacked.
4. The person handling the grill should have sanitary wipes handy, and a garbage can for meat packs and/or soiled paper towels. Two sets of tongs and plates should be provided, one set for the raw and one set for the cooked. A big bottle of hand sanitizer is a good idea too, since everyone can take advantage of that. Just keep it away from open flames. IT'S FLAMMABLE LIKE SERIOUSLY, BOOOOOOOM!
5. Have a reliable meat thermometer and make sure all meats reach the correct internal temperature. Hamburgers at least 160 and chicken at least 170.
6. Keep your hot foods hot and your cold foods cold! Don't leave food sitting outside for flies to enjoy and for the sun to sour. It's even hotter in the shade than you think and that pistachio Jello salad thing is already green and chunky so...
7. Wash all your fruits and veggies (yes, even those with a rind!) with a 3 parts to 1 solution of water and vinegar. I mean come on, do you lick doorknobs? Of course not! People do not realize that when you cut the rind of a watermelon or cantaloupe, apple or orange, that the bacteria on the surface (usually from the harvesting hands and grocery store workers) is dragged through the flesh by the knife, and LOTS of hands handle your fruit and veggies before they get to you! Imagine leaving unwashed fruit and veggie salads in the sun for a few hours, with a few flies sampling your talents and your day will become cramptastic! Keep a spray bottle of the vinegar solution handy for last-minute jobs!
8. Do NOT eat that burger or chicken breast that looks slightly undone unless you thoroughly love riding the Porcelain Train. In fact, repeatedly slap the BBQ handler for not reading my list, chuck that e-coli-ridden monstrosity out and get a new one.
9. Do everyone a favor and bleach out that cooler before you dump tons of ice into it and load it full of drinks. We know you used that cooler to bring lake fish home last summer and didn't clean it out! DON'T LIE! I'd go one step further and wipe the cans/bottles down before adding them but that's just me. By 4pm you have melted ice, many hands that dove into the cooler to get a soda, and your drinks miserably swimming in a soup of bacteria. GROSS!
10. And lastly, enjoy yourselves. That might best be accomplished by not inviting me. But I am pretty fun, and have a mean volley ball serve so, weigh that decision carefully.
Have a fun and safe 4th of July y'all!