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Food Safety: Some Costco Kirkland Brand Chicken is Foster Farms

chicken

Reuters is reporting close to 300 people have become ill from Foster Farms chicken products contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg. My usual response to this sort of thing is a quick look at the various government agencies tasked with food safety to get a handle on what's actually going on.

The Centers for Disease Control swear they are on the job but the latest Foster Farms related information from them seems to be this update on a salmonella outbreak published in July. This seems like a similar incident from a year ago; it says the outbreak seems to be over. Hmmm. That is not this. or maybe it is. In any case, guess this is not their first time at the rodeo.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is closed and grandstanding about politics. Let's just ignore them for now...

Food Safety and Inspection Services returns a 404.

This isn't getting any better. Lets try the manufacturer, surely 278 sick people is worthy of a voluntary recall.

Foster Farms is not recalling any of their chicken, handing off responsibility to the consumer with the advice to Just Heat It. "No Recall is in Effect. Products are Safe to Consume if Properly Handled and Fully Cooked."

Yeah...no. I don't know about you but I am not a fan of cooking the bacteria out of "likely to be bad" meat.

In the midst of the confusing information about contaminated, but not recalled, chicken that as safe to eat as long as I don't screw it up (how is this about us not Foster Farms?) I felt safe because I mostly buy house-brand chicken at Costco. That warm glow lasted about a minute before fading, leaving me with one big question:

Who produces Costco's Kirkland brand chicken?

A quick check of my freezer turned up a bag of skinless, boneless chicken breasts with a Foster Farms plant number on it. Yikes!

Pretty sure I had my answer, I called my local Costco in Warrenton, Oregon. Chris Delong, the General Manager assured me that Costco was aware of the problem with Foster Farm chicken. He also verified that, yes, the chicken breasts in my freezer had a Foster Farms plant number because they were produced there. (They have a book where they can discover such things. I want to see that book.)

Even though there is no official recall, Costco is accepting returns of chicken from the listed plants for a refund. This is true for both Foster Farms and Kirkland brand products. The chicken is not listed on their recall list but I would expect it to turn up there shortly.

If you have frozen chicken from Costco, do this:

  1. Check the package for the plant number. On whole chickens, it's on the little metal band that seals the bag. On bags, it's a bit of black type printed (usually sideways) on an otherwise unmarked part of the bag.
  2. If your chicken has P6137, P6137A, or P7632 on the bag or tag, don't eat it. Or cook it until it tests at least 165° with an Instant-Read Thermometer.
  3. If you want to return it, take it back to your local Costco. If you have a reciept that's great and helpful but they have computers that know what you ate last summer and where you bought the food. Remember, they are accepting returns of both Foster Farms and Kirkland brand chicken that was packaged at one of the listed plants.

If you are lacking frozen chicken and feeling left out of the fun, the government's food safety site has a big list of recalls and alerts. There are updates as recent as today but nary a mention of the salmonella chicken.

As I was about to publish this, a twitter conversation with @oceansresearch led me to the actual Food Safety and Inspection Services release. It includes the symptoms of salmonella, lest we forget: "The most common symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within eight to 72 hours. Additional symptoms may be chills, headache, nausea and vomiting that can last up to seven days." Sounds just lovely.

Do me a favor. There are a limited number of chicken producers and Foster Farms may well make other store's products. Check any chicken you have that is not verifiably from someone other than Foster Farms for the plant number. If you have some, call your store and ask about refunds. You know what they say: Better to be safe than puking your guts out.

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Eat Like a Pirate on Talk Like a Pirate Day

from the archives...

Eggs Ahoy! Eat Like a Pirate

Do you know about Talk Like a Pirate Day? This annual celebration of all things piratical happens every September 19th and turns ten this year, which makes this a great time to get onboard if you aren't yet.

Even pirates need a good breakfast and this one sports a signature eyepatch. The "recipe" couldn't be easier.

Take one egg in frame, add bacon and toast eyepatch. Serve with graham cracker sand and a large side of "Arrrrr!" Parrot(fish) optional.

The grilled pineapple? It's Pineapples of the Caribbean. *

Recipe from everyone and their grandmother. Photo from my cookbook

* Okay, I'm sorry for the awful line...but the truth is it's a family cookbook and many kids LOVE pineapple. Plus, lightly grilled with brown sugar! It's like dessert with breakfast.

Are you celebrating Talk Like a Pirate Day? Tell me what kind of pirate food you are eating, whose booty you covet, or who's walking your plank... (If you have a web site, feel free to drop the link to your pirate post in your comment.)

Candle Cake Design ~ A Work in Progress

 

KitchenMage-candle-cake

Light one candle for all we believe in,
That anger not tear us apart;
And light one candle to bind us together
With peace as the song in our heart!
Light One Candle ~ Peter Yarrow

One of my friends is having one of those roundy birthdays soon. Those milestone birthdays still mean something, even at 40, 50, or 60 when the annual ones lose their luster. In this case, part of what it means is an excuse to throw a party. A huge one.

Hours of live music, potluck dinner, friends from near and far. someoneElse had a rehearsal yesterday. From what I hear the music is a fantastic assortment of (mostly local) talent. The cooks out here get serious when it comes to potlucks and midsummer means their gardens are bountiful.

This is going to be fun.

Not being a musician but still wanting to contribute something more significant than a side-dish, I offered to make the cake. At the time, the guest count was ~50 and the party had no particular theme. Fifty people means a lot of cake so I started playing with ideas for how to make it all work.

Fast forward a bit and plans have firmed up.

Continue reading "Candle Cake Design ~ A Work in Progress" »

Fact-checking a Photograph

Sometimes a photo just seems too good to be true. You know how it is, the hi-res sunset is too gorgeous for a phone, the amateur's cake is too perfect, the crowd is too large. Something is wrong on the Internet.

Several-hundred-thousand--001

Like this photo, which is I now know not of a Trayvon Martin protest. Twitter disagrees. Still.

When I saw it, it didn't seem quite right to me that the crowd had grown from nothing to this without a tweet in between. If just felt off...so I checked.

Here's how you can tell if that "feeling" is real...

How to Tell if a Photo is Real...or Really Of "The Thing" They Say It Is...

btw, this is also a great way to track down sites that have lifted a photo of yours.

(Photo source: Guardian story on the bridge's 75th anniversary party)

kitchenMage Sandwich ~ A Memorial of Sorts

Kevin Weeks, Farmgirl Susan, and I got to be friends back in the early days of food blogs; back before spokesmodel was rebranded as "brand ambassador" and everything was sponsored.

Man, I miss those days...

The three of us created A Year in Bread, which was perhaps the first site of its kind. It was to have a finite lifespan, be tightly focused on baking bread, and would (we all hoped) build a community of bread-bakers. Little did we know what we were tapping into at the time. That first year, in particular, was a blast for all three of us.

I miss those days, too.

If you had asked any of us what our favorite part of A Year in Bread was, we'd have agreed it was the community. Secretly, I adored the conference calls just about as much. Kevin knew how to use "Hey girl..." when Ryan Gosling was but a pup. It made my day when I'd pick up the phone to hear his voice on the other end. Add Susan to the mix and it was non-stop hysterics. It was common for an hour or more to pass before one of us said, "Business! Didn't we have a list of things to discuss?" We got there eventually but the trip was the fun part.

Damn, I miss those calls.

Kevin died last year. He knew it was coming, we spoke about it occasionally over the years and he left behind a few bits of raw writing when death drew closer. Broken, Dealing, Mortality: 1.

Of all the things I miss, I miss him most.

This post was lifted from archive.org's cache of Seriously Good, the site that Kevin Weeks ran for many years. With any luck his ghost will pay me a visit to discuss copyright. I have a bottle of the good stuff waiting, Kev, bring it...

Continue reading "kitchenMage Sandwich ~ A Memorial of Sorts" »

How Loggers Open Lagers

Just in time for America's annual burn meat and blow things up week, opening beer with manly tools.

I wonder how many beers were sacrificed while he learned this.

ps-thanks to Brian from Awesomeography for the title upgrade.

 

Wordless Wednesday: Rhubarb Curls

Rhubarb-curls

I was just remembering when I used to cook... Love the light through these rhubarb shavings.

In Love With Lovage

...from the archives...

Lovage

Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is one of my favorite herbs you have never heard of. The herb's lack of public recognition always seems odd to me. It's a versatile herb with a palate-friendly flavor a lot like celery, yet more complex and nuanced. Fresh, young leaves are mellow enough to use whole in a salad, but it also stands up to long cooking in soups and stews.

The obvious presenting flavor of lovage is celery, but the flavor is more complex than that. Along with the concentrated celery is a large dose of the bright green flavor of parsley and a hint of something sweetly earthy. I use it as a celery substitute whenever it is available and find it slightly sweeter and stronger than celery, something that I really like.

The hollow stem, a section of which can be up to a foot or more in length and an inch in diameter, makes an excellent straw for drinks, such as a Bloody Mary, where a celery flavor is desired. Lovage stems can be candied, like angelica, as an unusual sweet treat.lovage brush

Excuse me a moment of excitement, but I just discovered a new trick for lovage stems: sliced lengthwise and put in ice water, they curl like the ridged curling ribbon they make for wrapping presents! This offers all sorts of possibilities from the sublime (make a brush for putting melted butter on corn on the cob) to the ridiculous (edible icons of the Flying Spaghetti Monster). Curlicue garnishes. Hair for Halloween monsters. This could be fun.

Lovage is also a beautiful addition to your herb garden. Unfurling from asparagus tip-like bundles in early spring, lovage quickly becomes a hip-high bush of soft green foliage.closeup of new growth on lovageMidsummer sees flower spikes shooting to eye level before opening golden umbels that slowly mature into marvelously tasty seeds, something the birds know as well as I. Come fall, the birds and I vie for the mature seeds, with my winnings finding their way into stelovage flowersws and breads over the winter.

Gardeners appreciate lovage because it is easy to grow, tolerating most soil condition and even a bit less water and sun than large, leafy herbs. (It is easy to tell when lovage is thirsty; mine, which is in direct sunlight, droops noticeably on hot days. Fortunately, it revives just as quickly with a bit of water.)

  A perennial that, like tarragon, requires a period of cold dormancy, lovage is often grown as an annual in warm climates. If you have to do this, you can save your own seeds, stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator, over the winter for spring planting.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank you for sticking around while I have been absent of late. Let's just say that there have been years when everyone around me was healthier than at the moment and I'd really like to go back to one of them. I hope to be back to more regular writing soon...really soon.

Reflections Upon an Herb Garden

from the archives... [updates in italics and brackets]

Closeup of sage flowers in my herb garden
Sage flowers look like itsy-bitsy orchids.

Once upon a time, the kitchenMage had the herb garden of her dreams. Wisteria draped the entrance arbor, opening onto a herringbone path interplanted with thyme and moss and edged with lavender and a plethora of mints. Herbs, both common and rare, filled this garden and new finds were constantly finding their way there. Rare thymes and more mints than she could name filled the beds, and the air, with intoxicating scents. A few choice trees also lived there: the prized sweet bay, a pink dogwood bent near horizontal from its attempts to survive its old home, and the maples (no two the same) that defined the border.

Oh, I'm sorry! I was daydreaming there for a minute.

While I would love to have that herb garden again (and it is worth a look, though I apologize for the old, not so great photos) the sad fact is that I don't. Worse, I won't have anything like it for a few more years to come. [It has been about four years and the garden is still sparse in spots. While I finally have established thyme, my tarragon has never lived beyond its second year. Establishing a garden in a place that gets 10 feet of rain a year is not easy.] A few summers [ha ha ha] from now, I expect to once again walk through a garden like that, although not too much like that.

I have a new house and a new "yard" — if one can call nine acres a yard — but after two years, the new garden remains unplanted. [The herb garden is still confined to the beds around the house, while some trees have made it into the yard. So, yeah, still mostly unplanted.] When we arrived, the little beds around the house's foundation looked like builders had done the planting: some unkempt low junipers and dozens of pansies, in a stunning array of magenta and white--one shade of each. Boring! (When the foxglove and daisies that had been hidden in winter, when we bought the place, first emerged, it seemed fitting somehow that they were also white and purple.)

Frankly, the only thing to recommend the gardened areas was the blueberry patch. The untended space, mostly Douglas firs (originally planted for timber harvest) with fern-laden undergrowth edged up against wild fog forest, has more to recommend it, including the wildlife. At least most of the time.[In what I consider a major victory, the blueberries have been fenced and we get the bounty now while birds screech at us from nearby trees.]

Continue reading "Reflections Upon an Herb Garden" »

DIY Pizza Party at The Happy Place

DIY-pizza-party-fixings

The Thump-thump-giggle-gigglers stopped by for the day recently and when I mentioned that dinner was "DIY Pizza" there was (literally) dancing in the seats. I guess that means your very own, very special, just for you and nobody else pizza with EXACTLY what you want and plenty of it is a hit with kids of all ages.

Go figure.

Pizza dough and sauce were both made the day before and kept in the refrigerator overnight. Meat that needed precooking, like sausage, was also prepared ahead of time.

This time around, one of the kids was drafted to wash the vegetables and then they all sat around the table and cut them. This got competitive which made all that slicing and chopping go by pretty darned fast.

For each pizza, cut a piece of parchment paper. Roll and stretch the piece of dough into the desire size/thickness. Each person prepped their own crust, allowing for variations in thickness. Then the fun begins... (bunch of photos after the jump)

Continue reading "DIY Pizza Party at The Happy Place" »

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